by Gurleen Aujla, Peak Associate

This year we have six candidates running for the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) president position. Voting takes place February 15–17 through SFU Mail. 

Shariq Ahsan (he/him), Independent

Why did you decide to run for SFSS president? 

I’ve been involved with the SFSS for a long time. In that time, I’ve seen the student body lose faith in the SFSS and feel like they can’t rely on it. I want to show students that the SFSS is worth getting involved with and that real change can happen.  

What are your plans to support students during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic? 

I want to make sure that the university gives [students] ample time to make informed decisions about their education. We’re going online for a semester, fine, give us ample notice so students who have families, commitments, etc. can plan accordingly. Our administration should empathize with the situation of students.

If elected, what would be your top three areas of focus? 

Firstly, I want to provide students [with] platforms in which they can voice their concerns and opinions. Secondly, I want to focus on empowering our clubs, unions, and groups on campus to better reach their membership. Finally, I want to regain the trust that many students have lost in the SFSS.

What leadership skills will you bring to this position? 

Above all else is my willingness to make sure the student body is heard. I have had the privilege of working with a lot of people in my many years as both a DSU/FSU President and it has provided me with many different perspectives. A true leader empowers his membership.

 

Liam Feng (he/him), Independent

Feng wearing a mask pointing at the camera in black and white
Liam Feng, Independent.

Why did you decide to run for SFSS president? 

I’m the most accurate student representation you’ll get. I struggle with schoolwork, I sleep at 2:00 a.m., I’m ambitious to change things despite a lack of experience/qualifications. And if I don’t get elected, you better believe I’m finding some other way to make a change.

What are your plans to support students during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic? 

Excellent question. You best believe I am going to reopen that Student Union Building. I’m gonna give students more space to be people, and that is going to support them in the most direct way.

If elected, what would be your top three areas of focus? 

My three areas of focus: 

  1. You. 
  2. Making that sketchy inner council more trustworthy, and more importantly, verbally open. 
  3. I want more people to hear about [the SFSS] and care about it.

What leadership skills will you bring to this position? 

I can hustle. I’ll film commercials in the middle of the night to get votes. I busted into common rooms and lecture halls for nomination signatures. I can craft posters to catch attention in a certain way, because this election is worth gunning for.

 

Vincent Huang (he/him), SFU Change for Better

Huang smiling with a lighthouse in the background
Vincent Huang, SFU Change for Better.

Why did you decide to run for SFSS president? 

I love making positive impacts [on] people. By having discovered what the students need (and more in the future) and what can be improved at SFU, I could see myself [making] changes as SFSS president while working together with others on the same page and supporting one another.

What are your plans to support students during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic? 

Other than adding 50 hand-sanitizer stations throughout the campus, I would love to improve the students’ mental health by offering a platform that allows students to voice their concerns and [be] heard, and providing more games like ping-pong tables for students to have fun between their busy schedules.

If elected, what would be your top three areas of focus? 

  1. Students’ mental health and beliefs that every one of them matters. 
  2. Free finance and investment education to emphasize its importance, allowing students to apply it in real life as early as possible. 
  3. Career simulations or workshops to polish the skills needed in workplaces through reliable practices.

What leadership skills will you bring to this position? 

As a leader, my people (including the students) are important. I will bring my selflessness and empathy for anything they need while providing directions and support so that they can learn, grow, feel rooted and belong in the community, and become the best versions of themselves as they should.

 

Dilraj Nijjar (he/him), Independent 

A headshot of Nijjar on a black background
Dilraj Nijjar, Independent.

Why did you decide to run for SFSS president? 

I joined SFU in Fall 2020. In these two years, I realized there is very little student involvement in SFSS decision-making. That’s when I decided that I will get students the transparency and power they deserve. It’s time we take back control of what’s rightfully ours.

 

 

What are your plans to support students during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic? 

Because of COVID-19, students are divided into two major groups: those who want online classes and those who prefer in-person. They both have valid reasons. My plan is to demand a hybrid option for the first group while resuming in-person classes for the second group.

If elected, what would be your top three areas of focus? 

Top three areas of focus: 

  1. Push for bylaws that will make transparent decision-making a duty and not a choice.
  2. Providing better mental health resources, especially for international students. 
  3. Get a better extended health plan. 

What leadership skills will you bring to this position? 

I was the school president of my high school for three consecutive years and advocated for gender equality and more. Just a few weeks ago, I, along with a few friends, organized and led a BC flood relief food drive and collected donations of more than half a million dollars.

 

Helen Sofia Pahou (she/her), Stronger Together Party

A full body shot of Pahou smiling in front of the AQ
Helen Sofia Pahou, Stronger Together Party.

Why did you decide to run for SFSS president? 

Collectively, my team and I agreed that the SFSS is in dire need of change. At such turbulent times, students deserve an SFSS that fosters a student-centric, resourceful and welcoming government that serves all. If elected, I hope to reinforce that while rebuilding trust between students and the [SFSS].

What are your plans to support students during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic? 

My team was [the] first to conduct a survey about students’ perspectives on the Spring 2022 return-to-campus. The barriers students face throughout the pandemic aren’t universal. Folks have different experiences and needs. Thus, I hope to foster a holistic SFSS that is careful in cultivating data as a guide for decision-making.

If elected, what would be your top three areas of focus? 

Out of a myriad of issues needing improvement, three key areas I’d focus on are: 

  1. Raising students’ awareness of their benefits and services via virtual town halls. 
  2. Empowering the SFSS Council with coherent policy training. 
  3. Utilizing periodic data-driven methods to include students within collective decision-making models.

What leadership skills will you bring to this position? 

Formerly as SFSS vice-chair and councillor for political science, I offer salient knowledge that’s central to the Society’s organization, procedures and bylaws. As [an] SFU senator, I advocate for improving student policies. However, being resilient is my most essential skill. I hope it’ll inspire students to be resilient too.

 

Sophonie Priebe (she/her), SFU Progressives

A full body shot of Priebe smiling inside of the AQ
Sophonie Priebe, SFU Progressives.

Why did you decide to run for SFSS president? 

To build on the legacy of radical student activism and build joy, celebration, and empower the community.

What are your plans to support students during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic? 

As SFSS president, I will increase [student] supports through the distribution of the $400,000 passed previously to acquire resources to support students during the pandemic, such as N95 masks for students, push for hybrid learning on campus, and continue pushing for [the] introduction of rapid testing sites on campus.

If elected, what would be your top three areas of focus? 

I want to bring this spirit of community to the SFSS and build on the work that progressive student activists and allies have done. I will focus on advocating for student rights and equity, building a community of care and solidarity uniting all students, defending student safety during COVID-19.

What leadership skills will you bring to this position? 

I have a host of leadership skills from my previous experience with other amazing student groups. This past year, I got involved with a lot of efforts to build community, whether it be at the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Student Union, the Students of Caribbean and African Ancestry or the Society of Arts & Social Sciences, I have helped to amplify students in any way I am able.