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An interview with SFSS President Hangue Kim

Kim shares a look at the year ahead

Image Credits: Alexa Tarrayo

It’s only the first week of the semester, but SFSS President Hangue Kim’s schedule is already packed.

Between fulfilling his board duties, coaching at the Enactus national competition, and taking classes, Kim still found time to sit down with The Peak to discuss the year ahead.

How are you feeling at the start of your term as SFSS president?

“I’m feeling really great. We just finished our first week in office working with the new board and transitioning them into their new roles.

“There’s been a shift, I think, with the new board. There’s a lot of energy and a lot of really good experience and diverse perspectives from the new board and I think there’s a lot more commitment to really engage with students, and I think that’s what we are going to make a priority this year.

“The shift in the culture of the student society — just seeing it in the past few weeks — it’s been really amazing and we’ve been more active just around the SFSS getting our staff involved, getting our student at-larges involved, and our board members as well […] and we just need to continue that throughout the year.”

How do you think your role as vice-president finance prepared you to be president?

“As VP [vice-president] finance I sat on the [executive] committee and had a really good opportunity to understand the finances of the organization and I think that’s really important, not only being president, but being a board member in general.

“I think just sitting on the executive committee and chairing the Finance and Audit committee, it gives me a really in-depth view of how the organization functions with their budgets, with their policies, with internal controls, and making sure that we are risk-averse. We don’t want to be spending money inappropriately or in ways that aren’t bettering the student experience here at SFU.”

What do you foresee being your biggest challenge this year?

“I think the biggest challenge for us this year [will] really be shifting the culture and building that trust with the students. I want [us] to be a student society that really represents and advocates on student interests [. . .] and not being that board that is sitting in their ivory tower that is really distant from their membership. I want to be on the ground.”

In your campaign, you emphasised that you would increase student support services, how do you plan to do that?

“So the biggest thing is we’ve received the results from the General Membership Survey and we’ve gotten a good response rate from that. Based on that, the question is how to increase the student support services. It is really prioritizing what the results are from [that] survey and developing our board work plan around that. [. . .] Just providing more staff support, more board support for these initiatives.

“One big thing is the food bank program. That’s one of the services that’s really widely used on campus. We’ve seen an increase in use of the program and in this upcoming year we see the cost of it exceeding the amount that we have budgeted. As a student society, we’re not […] going to cut that service, but we need to find other ways to fund it.”

You also indicated that you plan to increase opportunities for students to get involved, what will that look like?

“The biggest thing is — I push this onto my board all the time — I tell them to be leaders. I tell them to be innovative and work with students, so I think the biggest thing is getting them to really take the lead and take the initiative to lead other students and [provide] them the guidance and the support they need from the SFSS.

“[O]ne big thing that we shifted this year is even our committee placements. We [questioned] the reason for limiting the spots or the opportunities [for students] to sit on a committee. They want to be involved with the SFSS, and support us, and do events for SFU students. The biggest thing we changed is still including them as general volunteer members to help champion new ideas, new initiatives, and give them the opportunity to take the lead on these initiatives.”

What are your priorities for advocating on behalf of students this year?

“Based on the survey [. . .] a couple important things that students did advocate for [are] increased study space on campuses — like a space expansion plan whether or not it is our Surrey or Vancouver spaces. Longer library hours — that’s something that our previous board members did work on and we were successful in extending the hours [of the Fraser Library in Surrey]. So continuing initiatives like that, that mean a lot to students.

“We saw a lot of students asking for more campus events, we will be prioritizing that as well with our Events committee and also our Strategic Engagement committee. We increased the funding last year, so hopefully students will see more of a campus culture.”

You don’t have a lot of free time, but what do you do for fun?

“For fun? Oh man, I don’t know if I have any free time to have fun. I mean, I like going on hikes, that’s kind of my downtime. Either going on hikes or hanging out with my friends. I go to this place called Big Chicken Town sometimes on late nights when I’m really craving fried chicken. It’s honestly really good chicken.”

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

“The chicken. I think the chicken came first because the chicken was a cell within the egg that developed a shell […] something like that.”

Responses have been edited for length.

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