The SFU undergraduate student body has spoken — well, some of it, anyways — and has elected Larissa Chen to become the official president of the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS).
With just over five percent of the student body casting a vote, Chen defeated opponents Deepak Sharma and Darien Lechner. This is Lechner’s second defeat in a presidential race this year, while Sharma failed in an attempt to reclaim the position he infamously resigned from back in June.
Of the 1,574 students who cast a vote for president, 55.8 percent chose Chen, making her the overwhelming favourite. Lechner — who was not present at the announcement — came in second with 25.9 percent of the vote, and Sharma in third with 18.3 percent.
Chen seemed very grateful for the way the vote went, and could barely process the results herself.
“I think I am still in shock. I feel overwhelmed; the past few weeks have just been so overwhelming with support, so much interaction with people,” she said. “It was kind of interesting to step away from board and see the real world outside of board, and now I know what students think about certain things and how we can go about changing it. I am excited to incorporate this new mindset into board.”
Sharma was on hand at the announcement ceremony Friday morning, and while he was disappointed at not getting another chance at the presidency, he had nothing but kind things to say about Chen.
“The biggest thing I want to say is thank you to the membership for giving me at least one opportunity to serve as president. Second time ‘round it didn’t work out, but I am very thankful that I was even given the opportunity to run again and additionally being proud that I did go through with it,” he said.
“That being said, I am very happy for Larissa, as you may have noticed,” he said, having hugged Chen upon the announcement of her victory. “I still think this was quite a positive campaign between both of us, and I think she is gonna make sure the board continues towards the success it has already had this year.”
Chen is eager to return to the board after resigning from her original position as VP student services to run for chair of the board of directors. She acknowledged that her time away from board gave her some perspective on how students view the SFSS, and noted that the student society is disconnected from students.
“I am excited to work with the staff again and students again, and I think that the little period where I stepped away from the the board, it did give me a perspective of someone who is not so engulfed in this environment,” she said.
“Once you are in that environment, all you think is, that environment, that’s the norm, but it’s not the norm, it doesn’t have to be.”
Meanwhile, Thadoe Wai defeated Supreet Malhi for the position of environment representative, collecting 61 of the 91 votes cast in the race. He will fill a position that has been vacant since April, as there were no candidates in the general election for the role — a vacancy which was the original cause of the byelection.
“I am feeling elated about it, to be honest,” Wai said. “It was kind of nerve-wracking, I guess, although I’m pretty happy about the result.
“Next few months, to be honest it’s hard to say [what my plan is], but I do hope to start working together with people from my DSU [Departmental Student Union] as well as other people from the faculty and start forming a plan to help strengthen the faculty.”