U of S student president hopes to make governance more accessible

Click to play video: 'Kehan Fu new University of Saskatchewan Students Union president'
Kehan Fu new University of Saskatchewan Students Union president
WATCH ABOVE: The University of Saskatchewan Students Union (USSU) has a new president. Kehan Fu speaks with Joel Senick about how the role has change over the years and how much influence the USSU president has on campus – Sep 7, 2016

Kehan Fu finds himself trying to complete an extra, self-assignment amid the conventional work that the first week of university classes tends to bring.

“Hey folks, how’s it going,” he asked one group of students in the University of Saskatchewan’s (U of S) bowl Tuesday, in an effort to earn high marks in the art of socializing.

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A passing grade could complete one of his school-year goals: to bridge the University of Saskatchewan’s student government with the people it represents.

“Making sure that they see us physically and can ask us questions in a way that’s comforting and doesn’t make us seem, you know, too elitist or too out in our own ivory tower,” said Fu, who is the incoming U of S Students Union (USSU) president.

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“We’re organizing town halls, face-to-face sessions,” he added.

Fu is a fifth-year political studies student who has been involved in multiple levels of student government during his time at the U of S. In an interview, he said his year-long goals include increasing the USSU’s social media reach and presenting the group as more “student friendly.”

“To show [students] concrete examples of how involvement works so that they could see themselves in [student government] without having to feel like they have to research twenty pages on governance to join,” Fu said.

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The USSU was founded in 1909 and its executive includes three other members besides its president.  U of S vice-provost Patti McDougall said the roles are essentially full time jobs and the leaders regularly collaborate with university officials.

“We figure out each year what are their goals, what do they want to accomplish and we figure out where we can collaborate together,” McDougall said in an interview.

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“They are attending committee meetings, our USSU president is a member of our board of governors, so they’re extremely engaged in the day-to-day operation of the university.”

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Click to play video: 'Orientation week at the University of Saskatchewan'
Orientation week at the University of Saskatchewan

Fu said he will use is seat at the board to encourage officials to consider the student body in all of its decisions and fit the “student narrative with the larger narrative of the university.” It’s a mindset that every student leader should have throughout their term, according to 2012-13 USSU president Jared Brown.

“The voice of the president is the voice of the students,” Brown said when asked what advice he would offer Fu.

“It’s welcomed, it’s needed and it needs to be provided in a light that represents the student voice.”

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Fu said he hopes to build on the legacy that Brown and others have left him. He is also the first Chinese-born USSU president and said the group should work to develop leaders to put “more people with different shoes and backgrounds … in positions like mine to see themselves empowered.”

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