SFSS election results reveals new executive committee

The referendum vote on a BIPOC and DNA support fund was passed

SFSS office inside the SUB
This year’s voter turnout increased drastically from the previous year. PHOTO: Amirul Anirban / The Peak

By: Karissa Ketter, News Writer

Editor’s Note: This article was updated on March 3, 2023 to correct the spelling of Abhishek Parmar and Vaibhav Arora’s names.

The SFSS voting period, which ran from February 15 to 17, has closed. The results reveal the newest executive committee and two referendum votes. 

Newly Elected Executive Committee

Election seats are won when students receive the majority of the votes cast in favour. 

There were a total of six candidates for the new SFSS president. The presidency was won by Helen Sofia Pahou with 35% of the vote. Pahou is a political science major at SFU who ran with the Stronger Together Party (STP). 

Results for vice-president seats are as follow:

  • Vice-president internal and organizational development: Judit Nagy (STP) with 53% of the vote. 
  • Vice-president finance and services: Abhishek Parmar (STP) with 45% of the vote. 
  • Vice-president university and academic affairs: Nicole Kirigin (STP) with 53% of the vote. 
  • Vice-president external and community affair: Eshana Baran (SFU Progressive), uncontested.
  • Vice president equity and sustainability: Rea Chatterjee (SFU Progressive), uncontested.
  • Vice-president events and student affairs: Vaibhav Arora with 59% of the vote. 

Chatterjee and Baran both ran with the SFU Progressives party. The Progressives platform notes they “support building and training community activists and progressive student organisers to create, raise, and maintain political presence on campus.”

Pahou, Nagy, Parmar, Kirigin ran with the STP. Their party notes they are “proudly politically diverse.”

There were students running as individuals as well as through organised party platforms.

This election had far greater turnout than the previous year’s election. The 2022 election saw over 2,300 voters for the presidential vote while the 2021 SFSS elections had roughly 500 to 900 voters for each candidate.

Referendum Results

The SFSS election included five referendum votes. For each referendum vote to pass they require 50% of the votes. 

The first asked students if they support increasing semester student fees by $0.75 for full time students and by $0.38 for part time students to fund the SFU First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Student Association. This fund would be used for support services and raising cultural awareness. 

The SFSS found only 9.8% of Indigenous peoples have Bachelor’s degrees whereas 27% of the general Canadian population obtains a degree. 

This referendum was passed with 60% of the votes. 

The next referendum vote asked students if they support creating and funding two funds — the Students of Caribbean and African Ancestry (SOCA) Black Student Support Fund and the DNA Disabled and Neurodivergent Student Support Fund. These funds are also being used for support services, cultural awareness, and community building. This would increase semesterly student fees by $1.00 for full time students and by $0.50 for part time students per fund. 

The SFSS recognized only 14% of adults with disabilities have a Bachelor’s degree. This is opposed to the 27% of non-disabled Canadians, according to a 2012 study. They also found “only 51% of Black men and 33% of Black women attained a post-secondary diploma or degree, compared to 62% of non-Black men and 41% of non-Black women.”

This referendum was passed with 53% of the vote. 

Two referendum questions centred on SFSS’ health and dental plan. The SFSS stated they have been covering cost deficits from health and dental plans due to rising health care costs. The first question asked for an increase of $39 for both the Basic and Enhanced plan, and the second question asked for a renewal of the Council’s ability to adjust health and dental plan fees by ±5%. Both questions failed to pass. 

The election also asked students for feedback on their preference for the SFSS’s future projects. They asked whether the SFSS should research the feasibility of a SUB in Surrey, a subsidised student housing project, both options, or none. Students were able to pick between these four options to give the SFSS their direct feedback. 

The option for both Surrey SUB and subsidized housing received the most votes with 789 in favour. 

The Peak reached out to Helen Sofia Pahou for an interview but did not receive a response by publication deadline. 

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