Deepak Sharma resigns as SFSS president

Deepak Sharma (centre) has vacated his position, leaving VP Student Services Larissa Chen (right) as acting President.

Deepak Sharma is no longer the President of the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS).

The Peak has received confirmation that Sharma failed to meet membership eligibility status and has been forced to resign. His seat has since been “deemed vacant,” according to a press release from the SFSS.

This comes just over a month after the current Board of Directors took office on May 1. The SFSS elections had notably poor turnout, with one position on the board failing to even garner a single candidate.

Larissa Chen, VP Student Services, will be taking over the responsibilities of President for the time being as per the society’s bylaws.

“The SFSS just got exciting again, didn’t it? In a really bad circumstance,” she admitted.

The board learned at their May 19 meeting that Sharma’s eligibility status was in question. From that point on, Chen took over the responsibilities, and he was instructed to stay away from all Board duties. However, as an act of good faith, he was still publicly listed as the President of the SFSS, in the event that it was a clerical error that had nullified his eligibility.  

The position wasn’t officially vacated until the most recent board meeting yesterday. Now, the board must decide how to move forward.   

“We can either have a by-election, or we can have a [simple resolution]. Another option is to leave it as it is and for me to continue being interim president,” said Chen.

“Those are the next steps for board. I don’t want to comment on it now because I don’t want to say anything concrete and then for it to be an error.”

Former SFSS President Enoch Weng said it was a surprise to learn about Sharma’s resignation.

“A million things went through my head [when I heard]. Why? What were the reasons? Was it personal?” said Weng. “Then I learned that it was membership eligibility.”

“I honestly believe that he did his best, it’s just an unfortunate thing.” – Enoch Weng

While Weng and Chen both declined to comment on the specifics of membership eligibility, former board exec Kathleen Yang wrote in a Facebook post that “Failing to meet membership eligibility usually means that you were not considered enrolled in any SFU courses for two consecutive terms.”

This definition matches the one offered in the Board’s bylaws, which notes that membership in the SFSS “shall cease when a member fails to register for undergraduate courses at the University for two consecutive registrations.”

Weng said that he found the news to be a shock.

“I did do my transition with Deepak and I saw kind of what he did and the plans he wanted for this year,” he said. “I honestly believe that he did his best, it’s just an unfortunate thing.”

He did hope that students both take note of this situation, and hopes they aren’t too dramatically affected by it.

“It’s something that students should care about, because of the SFSS manages student fees and helps with student life,” he said. “Students won’t feel too much, because life goes on. In terms of the board, and how they’ll feel, there definitely will still be huge bumps because you don’t have a presidential figure.”

Sharma only ran against one opponent in the last SFSS election, and that was Darien Lechner. Sharma ultimately won with 63.2 percent of the vote, with a total of 1,870 votes. Lechner said that he finds this development disappointing, but hopes to see some good come out of it.

“I think that he should have done his due diligence at the time and made sure he would have been able to serve the full term,” he said. “I reach out to him, and whatever situation he’s going through he has my full condolences, but I see this as an opportunity for some positive things to occur.”  

The next board meeting is scheduled to take place on June 16. Chen said this is when the board hopes to discuss their next course of action.

She acknowledged that the situation has been something of a trial-by-fire for her.

“It has been a challenge — however, I find that my team is amazing. The execs have distributed the responsibilities and we’ve all been very proactive. The board is very responsive.

“Imagine what it’s like to just come into board, and for this to happen to the new members who have never experienced this. They’ve been so wonderful, they’ve been responsive and responsible, and they’ve done a very good job.”

She concluded by hoping that Sharma is not antagonized during this time.

“This is a very difficult situation to be in, and I think that it has impacted us and [Sharma] a great deal. In terms of moving forward, I think that one key thing I want to note is that I want the privacy and the confidential matters to be respected.

“I would hope that people would have enough respect to not pry for answers when they shouldn’t be.”

Deepak Sharma could not be reached for comment at time of publication.