By: Jaymee Salisi, Promotions Coordinator
With hopes to ease student hardships, Helen Sofia Pahou is prepared to begin her term as president of the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS). Pahou spoke with The Peak about her plans of action for the 2022/23 year.
As president, Pahou aims to ensure clearer communication and collaboration within the SFSS. She hopes this will benefit students by increasing their access to opportunities and resources.
Pahou plans to begin her term by “bringing events back to campus for SFU students to enjoy.” She said this would look like organizing town halls, educating students on Studentcare coverage, and encouraging clubs and departmental student unions to use the facilities in the Student Union Building (SUB).
In regards to these new events, Pahou did not specify COVID-19 guidelines. However, Pahou discussed her plans to deal with campus concerns regarding COVID-19. “The SFSS is inclined to follow protocols and good practices recommended by the BC provincial government and their current province-wide restrictions.”
The SFSS plans to continue circulating recommendations throughout the SUB on wearing masks in public spaces, washing hands, and wiping down high contact surfaces.
Pahou noted they will continue to make spaces with cleaner air circulation accessible to students as the pandemic continues. She mentioned the spaces in the SUB’s 1000 level are equipped with HEPA filters.
Additionally, she hopes to work alongside the SFSS Women’s Centre to increase and amplify safe spaces for women and the LGBTQIA2S+ community on campus. She explained being a woman in a leadership role inclines her to empower women, as well as educate the SFU community on sexual violence and prevention.
“Amplifying sexual violence prevention training to student leaders, and creating more dialogue on the realities of sexual violence on campus, will be a key project going into this year,” Pahou said.
To do this, she plans to collaborate with SFU’s Active Bystander Network and SFU’s Sexual Violence Support and Prevention Office. Both groups offer the opportunity for SFU students and employees to be educated on and receive support for sexual violence.
Pahou said she is “inclined to uphold the work, initiatives, and policies that have already been put in place to support students a part of marginalized communities.” She added, “Consultation with these communities, and holding ourselves accountable to serving these communities, will also be a key part of our role while forwarding initiatives and surveys centered on amplifying their needs.”
To make her leadership services more accessible to students, Pahou said her plan is “to offer in-person and online office hours a few times per week for students to say hello, create new points of connection, and speak to [her] about whatever concerns they may have.”
She aims to increase accessibility and engagement by frequently having members of the SFSS executive available to student members in Convocation Mall on the Burnaby campus. Pahou believes this will allow herself and her team to make better connections with students and answer their questions.
Pahou said she is experienced in the functions of student politics and leadership as a result of her previous roles as SFSS vice-chair of council, SFSS councillor for political science, and SFU undergraduate senator for the faculty of arts and social sciences. During her time serving in the Senate, she was involved in sub-committees including the Senate Committee on University Priorities and the Senate Committee on International Activities.
Since the SUB’s soft-opening in August 2021, the building has not been fully operational. Pahou said as the SFSS re-introduces more in-person activities, she expects there to be a “learning curve” in engagement and event planning upon the building’s grand opening.
However, she said she feels “very lucky to be working with a fantastic staff, and an eager team of vice presidents ready to help us overcome all these new challenges.”
Students interested in getting in touch with Pahou can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.