Written by: Jaymee Salisi, News Writer
With a focus on equity and amplifying marginalized voices, Gabe Liosis has begun his term as president of the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS). Liosis spoke with The Peak about his goals for the 2021/22 year.
“Students deserve a student society that embraces student unionism and activism,” he said. “I [have] a unique knowledge of how the SFSS is structured, how it works, and what is needed to make this new governance system thrive.”
He said he is prepared to provide new councillors with efficient training and support to serve under the new governance structure where Council is “the top decision-making body in the SFSS.”
Liosis chose to get involved with the SFSS after he observed the 2019/20 Board “intentionally disregarding the impact” of on-campus space for marginalized communities. Because of this, he served as Council chair from January 2020 to April 2020 and continued as vice president university relations in 2020/21.
During his time with the SFSS, Liosis advocated for the Pass/Credit/No Credit grading system, the development of the Burnaby Mountain Gondola, and the end of SFU’s pilot exam proctoring during remote learning.
“By the end of this year, I really hope that we will have built an organization that will perpetually foster advocacy and activism”
“By the end of this year, I really hope that we will have built an organization that will perpetually foster advocacy and activism,” Liosis said.
Using his knowledge of the SFU bureaucracy, he hopes to make bursaries more accessible, implement a tuition freeze, and distribute emergency funding to support students amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the consultation of marginalized communities, he also aims to focus on working with SFU to change its policing and safety practices on campus.
As the university plans to reopen for in-person classes, one of Liosis’ priorities is to ensure the return to campus is a safe and positive experience. To do this, he aims to develop a detailed safety plan with the university and province for the Fall 2021 Student Union Building reopening.
Through his experience as vice president university relations, Liosis said he learned to build solidarity with students, and pushed SFU to support BIPOC community members.
“Mobilizing undergraduate students around fundamental systemic issues is critical,” he said. “The best that you can do in terms of advocating for students is speaking truth to power.”
Liosis aims to contribute to the development of the new Black Student Support Centre and Student Advocacy Office “to further strengthen the SFSS’s advocacy capacity.” The Student Advocacy Office will represent and advocate for students who are in a dispute with the university.
“When making decisions, I always want to be making them from an equity lens, ensuring that the voices of folks who are most marginalized are being heard.” Leading decisions centred around equity, Liosis said the SFSS needs “bold, radical, and progressive voices” to drive systemic change within the SFU community.
“I hope that the principles of fighting for BIPOC communities who suffer the most from systemic disadvantages are never lost [ . . . ] We need to be very intentional about the spaces we are creating, and how we treat people in those spaces.”