Posted in SFSS Elections

Election Special: VP University Relations

Candidate: Erwin Kwok


The vice-president university relations is the liaison between the university and the SFSS. The VP university relations works with university leaders, such as the president, vice-presidents, and Board of Governors. They also coordinate programs in collaboration with the university, including the U-Pass and BC Open Textbook Program.


Erwin Kwok erwin


1. How will you handle circumstances wherein students and the administration have opposing views or interests?  

The function of Board members is to represent the interests of SFSS members. Having stated this, I believe most opposing views/interests can be satisfied by at least taking a firm stance to support students.. To ensure future development and relations between SFSS-SFU, I will work with the SFSS President to assess what points both parties bring to the table. It is necessary that I consult student members continuously. For whatever issue, I will regularly provide updates to our members and inform them of possible alternatives. Ultimately, I will request student feedback such as through Board’s advisory body Council to resolve issues and seek opinions of SFSS staff. My job is described as being a SFSS representative liaison to SFU. This means it is not necessarily I alone, but the collective Board which represents students that will make a decision on opposing views/interests. I would handle these situations by ensuring SFU-SFSS relationships are not strained and maintain rapport between both parties while relaying information for Board to make an informed decision after consulting with members. 

2. What will you do that your predecessor specifically did not do?

My predecessors from the past several years were often delegated much Build SFU work which limited their ability to work on other matters. I will also work on Build SFU but focus on other tasks such as the pressing tank farm concerns and long-term open textbook campaigning which I had worked on as part of Advocacy committee. Given the new strategic plan for 2016-19, it is necessary for fiscal year Board members now to focus on continuity in all work that is done. I will distinguish between immediate concerns such as the Tank Farm safety plan and others like open textbooks which are anticipated to take longer in achieving. However, for these ‘long-term’ goals, I also take smaller steps and consider alternatives. For example, I plan to request SFU to include information on average expected textbook costs in enrolment course descriptions. This way, both students and Professors become increasingly cognizant of rising materials cost. 

3. How do you plan to build a strong working relationship with the university administration?

What better relationship to start with than already having established one? I have worked with SFU Student Services, Dining and Ancillary Services, Student Engagement, and Health and Counselling through volunteer roles in the past two years. Consequently, I have pre-existing relationships with SFU. As for developing working relations with SFU Administration, I have also contacted my predecessors such as Arr Farah, the current VP University Relations. Rather than ‘start from scratch’, I consulted Farah regarding how he interacted with SFU Administration, their mannerisms/expectations and other advice. Rather than damaging SFU-SFSS, I aim to work cooperatively. This means I will not take extremist approaches but rather realistic, tangible steps that are more likely to be considered by SFU Administration. There are often areas concerning students that SFSS has no control over due to being the jurisprudence of SFU. As such, firm, steadfast opposition to SFU will not be conducive to discussion. Finally, I will be explicit in my communication to prevent misunderstandings.