I am a fourth year criminology student. For the past year, I have served as one of your At-Large
Representatives on the Board of Directors for the Simon Fraser Student Society. Some have said that the At-Large position is an obsolete one; however I believe that the generality of the position has allowed for diversity in the projects I have taken on. During the last election, I ran under the idea that we, as directors, should be working to make the student experience an easier one, by removing some of the bureaucratic red tape that even those well versed in SFU’s system have trouble maneuvering around. The University Relations Officer is meant to act as the middle-person between the University Administration and the students; I want to be the person that students feel comfortable coming up to and saying “there are no electrical outlets in this hallway of the AQ, can this be solved?” or “the dance studio closes at 7 and our club needs to practice, can you help us find a space?”. There is no such thing as no, just a million different paths to get to a yes.
I started my SFU career at SFU Surrey and spent two years on the Surrey Campus Committee, as a general Officer and then as the Chief Officer. As a Director, I was quick to jump at the chance to be the Board Liaison to Surrey; I think the experience at different campuses brings a wider view of what SFU students need. The Surrey Campus has a different atmosphere than the Burnaby and Vancouver Campuses; there are different dynamics and different needs from the students who frequent them. However, the one thing that the trio have in common is that they are all home to SFU students who all deserve the best university experience we can give them. As your University Relations Officer, I hope to continue my work with the Build SFU project by bringing the opinions and needs of students from all three campuses to ensure a building that is a source of pride and usability for all SFU students. As well as be the person who never denies a phone call to a student who has an idea to better their student experience and that of others. No gimmicks, no promises of lowered tuition, giant parties or solving world hunger; I’m a fellow student who values the SFU experience and who, as the University Relations Officer, wants to add more value to your university experience.
My name is Alia Ali and I am currently the Arts and Social Sciences Representative of the SFSS. In my years at SFU, I have been a Team Leader for the Orientation program, Vice President Student Life and a founding member of the Society of Arts and Social Sciences (SASS) a Student Senator on the SFU Senate, the Build SFU Volunteer Coordinator, President of the SFU Jazz Band, and a part of a variety of Departmental Student Unions.
During this time, I organized SFU’s first ever Arts Frosh for the largest (and at the time, the only) Faculty Student Union along with SFU’s 1st annual Arts Week happening March 4-8 in the South AQ (you’ll be seeing me handing out the passports and free food all week long!).
These roles have enabled me to speak to many students of a variety of different backgrounds, all of whom have given me great perspective and a real idea of what the students of SFU really need. What I’d like to do is communicate these experiences and opinions to the university Administration, something I will be able to do more effectively as your University Relations Officer. I will ensure student voices are actually heard and listened to.
A vital part of everyone of my various roles on campus were to communicate and deal with different university relations, which has helped me learn how to effectively work through the bureaucracy that is SFU. Learning to talk to the right people and fill out the right forms and collaborate with the correct stakeholders, has given me the ability to achieve what I have at SFU. During my time at SFU I have created strong relationships with SFU administrators, which I will put to good use in order to serve you better.
I truly believe that the URO position is the direct link from the students to the University, which will give me the chance to bring up concerns on your behalf. SFU is promoting engagement with the world with their new slogan Engage SFU, and as URO I want to keep them accountable to this motto. Currently there is a lot at SFU that isn’t going so well that inhibits students’ success both academically and socially. Every week I talk to a new student who has had to delay their graduation because of a lack of professors or classes; this is unacceptable.
Furthermore, the current state for International Students at SFU is appalling.They pay three times the tuition of a domestic student but get very little in return for their extra investment. They are told that their English skills are appropriate to succeed at SFU but in reality they often are not and there is little to no supports for these students. This can (and often does) create a barrier between ESL and non-? ESL students within classes. They have some of the lowest retention rates in the entire school and yet they continue to receive minimal support. The Faculty of Arts has recently cut many International initiatives, which resulted in the loss of staff, who were the closest thing FASS had to a Student Engagement Officer. The Faculty of Science lost their version of a Student Engagement Officer last year who was never replaced and left a large hole in the faculty felt most strongly by students. It is issues like these that pushed me to run for the URO position.
The other reason I am vying for the URO position, is of course, BuildSFU. Being heavily involved in the beginning stages of the project and watching it grow has truly been remarkable. SFU has needed a student union building for at least a decade and students from all walks of life have felt that need. I will continue to work closely with the BuildSFU Manager and other staff in order to make sure that we can keep that ball rolling in the right direction. After finalizing location, I hope to finally get on to consultation and figuring out what a student union building would mean to YOU. Only with the maximum amount of input can we have a building that can change the entire university experience for future students and help SFU finally lose its commuter campus reputation.
To summarize, I have three main goals as URO:
Create the student space SFU not only needs but wants. I will develop and implement a student consultation process and help in the hire of a consultation coordinator to ensure all students have their say for the next five years, making sure to use all aspects of reaching students including social media and online voting polls. We are a generation online, and I want BuildSFU to be accessible to you!
SFU Actually Being Engaging
I want to lobby the University Administration to put pressure on the Deans of every faculty to ensure there is a Student Engagement Officer to be a resource to students. This will hopefully help bridge the very large gap between student and administration and help increase community within departments and faculties and find out which departments are struggling and need extra support. I will also be a voice for international students so their problems will not continue to be ignored. We are only as strong as our weakest link and together we can make SFU the most engaging university it can be.
Improved Student Experience
Lastly, I want to improve the overall student experience. I have been a part of many events and a witnessed many students who want to try and make SFU a better place but can’t either because of red tape or funding. I want to make it easier to book university spaces and hold events on all four campuses and make sure that SFSS funding is going to those who need it. I love SFU and I strive everyday to make it a university I can be proud of.
Thank you for reading and I hope that you will support me for another term as a director of the Simon Fraser Student Society!! :)
If you have any questions or want to chat about ways to make the campus better, please email me at email@example.com, tweet me @alia724, call or text me at 778-828-8447 or FB me at facebook.com/Alia724.
Working for you,
University Relations Officer
I believe this to be the most important position on the SFSS Board of Directors for the foreseeable future (given the magnitude of Build SFU). For this position we need someone that is an experienced negotiator, possesses the ability to mobilize support and has proven results. I believe there is one candidate that fits this bill. My name is Brock Balfour.
Personal background – former high school class President, entered SFU Fall 2008, winner of the 2010 Dean’s Student Service Award (given to 1 out of 3,400 undergrad students), 3 years involvement within the Business Administration Student Society including President, 2 years on the SFSS Forum, experience business case competitor and debater. Can graduate after this semester with a BBA in Accounting and Human Resources, but will continue to complete an extended minor in Economics and an additional concentration in Finance (5 classes more).
Personally signed well over $100,000 worth of corporate sponsorship contracts
Includes deal with CGA-BC, largest of its kind in Canada
Increased the budget of the Business Mentorship Program to $20,000 from $3,000 through grant with the Beedie School of Business
Ability to Mobilize Support
Successful transformation of the Business Administration Student Society
Executive Council restructuring
Improved operations (events and programs) mix
Added a Board of Governors to assist with long term sustainability
Strong advocate for Build SFU
Strong advocate for Faculty Student Unions (the provincial governments of the SFU landscape)
Highly respected among Faculty and Staff at the Beedie School of Business
Set record high budgets, constituent satisfaction and increased sustainability in 3 student organizations
Centennial High School Student Council (President)
International Business Association (VP External)
Business Administration Student Society (President)
Effectiveness in fighting for the best interest of my constituents
Plans for URO
1. Raising capital, specifically corporate sponsorship*. Conceptually the lower the ratio of student levy funds to the cost of the building, the better funds for students. I will work hard in conjunction with our stakeholders to:
a. Raise funds
b. Create a system for how we deal with sponsorship and other donors
2. Building design – several ideas here. A main licensed ballroom where banquets and dances can be held on campus is currently absent. Additional group study space. Faculty Student Union offices (given the projection of ever increasing importance).
3. Inclusiveness means allowing all students to not only have a voice, but using funds in such a way were all students from every faculty can benefit. While it is great if involved business students benefit, my job is to serve all my constituents: every undergrad student at SFU and this will always be my primary focus.
Additional Value to the Board of Director Team
1. Faculty Student Unions – currently have the deep knowledge on this given my past, will work to ensure proper by-laws and policies are in place by the end of the term and aid any faculty that requests support.
2. Events look like they could increase in focus and given my extensive event planning and operations management, I will be able to give some great support to members leading these initiatives
3. Budgeting – going through and independently assessing whether things we do still make sense, or if we do them because we always do. The primary goal should always be to provide the greatest benefit for all our constituents.