Larissa Chen will be staying on as the interim president of the Simon Fraser Student Society for the summer semester.
As per a press release from the SFSS, Chen will be maintaining her role for the time being as the board’s bylaws require. Chen took over for Deepak Sharma on June 2, when bylaws forced him to resign for failing to meet membership eligibility requirements.
The board is not allowed to make any formal changes to its leadership structure until September, and it has not yet been decided what those changes might be.
For now, Chen is just cautiously optimistic about staying the course as interim president.
“I’m obviously nervous, but very well-supported. Our team is great, and they’ve done a very good job of being understanding,” she said. “I’m just excited, we have a lot of projects ahead of us, and now we can get started and really get rolling.”
She will still be responsible for her initial role on the Board of Directors, which is VP student services. She said that a lot of the presidential tasks will be delegated amongst the other members of the executive to help her maintain her increased workload.
“In terms of balancing both those roles, it’s been discussed before that VP Student Services is a great deal of operational services. However, there are these governance aspects where you can engage with students and get consultation and feedback with students, and I think that’s really great, which is why I applied for this role,” she said.
“Moving forward, I will still do the responsibilities the president is named to, but with a service focus and still making sure [both my roles] are being done well and that there is always someone taking care of any tasks.”
VP external relations Christine Dyson acknowledged that students might be feeling a little wary of the SFSS right now, but that they should still have faith in what this year’s Board of Directors can accomplish.
“I would say right now we do have a lot of — I don’t want to say negative — I would say news stories coming out and there are a lot of issues that have been developing, but I would say really focus on what the board is doing this year,” she said.
“We had our board plan, we worked on that, there’s some really good things coming out of that. Also, we’re working off of the strategic plan from last year, and that’s great because the society hasn’t had a strategic plan before, so this is the first year it’s really being implemented.”
Chen said that she understands that students are upset about what happened with Sharma, and said that the reason board members are not rushing any decisions is to make sure they make the best decision for both the Board and for students.
“I think that in terms of the Deepak situation, it’s fair for students to express their concerns, and I think it’s fair for them to be upset about it,” she said. “We will definitely be weighing out all the aspects and all the catalyzing effects of any option and all the options that are available to us.”
This means that the Board will take their time in deciding how to proceed come September instead of making any decisions or announcements to the public.
“At this point in time, we’re still trying to weigh out all our options,” said Dyson. “That’s why we’re going to wait a few weeks and make sure we suss it out properly, and then at that point in time we’ll have a formal release of what the plan will be going forward.”