"A new kind of leadership": Meet your new FSU president, Abdullah Qassab
Credit: ANGELA MCINNES
Abdullah Qassab said he will give away 10 per cent of his salary to students, and fight to maintain the Fanshawe Student Union's (FSU) services in light of the Student Choice Initiative.
Qassab grew up in Libya, and then lived in Iraq for six years until relocating to Canada with his family. His parents, both university professors, ensured he attended English classes while living in both Arabic-speaking countries. He also speaks Kurdish, and is open to learning more languages.
With education being a central focus in his family, Qassab earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Duhok Polytechnic University in Iraq.
After settling in London, Ont., Qassab enrolled in the heating, refrigeration and air conditioning technician program at Fanshawe’s Woodstock campus. He will receive his diploma this year, and is currently working on obtaining his gas technician certification.
Qassab comes into the presidential role with a love of volunteering and community involvement. In Iraq, he volunteered for his city’s international film festival, as well as an organization that helps Syrian refugees. In London, he volunteers with the food bank, the Forest City Film Festival, and as an orientation leader for the College.
“Giving back to community is very important,” Qassab said. “We always have to think about others so that people can think about us, too.”
Qassab’s belief in building strong community relationships fueled his motivation to run for FSU president, despite not having any previous experience in student governance.
“Even my parents were shocked,” he said, recalling the moment he decided to join the campaign.
At first, Qassab was unsure of how people would accept the idea of a candidate from the Woodstock campus. However, after only four days of persistent canvassing, Qassab gathered the 150 nomination signatures required to throw his proverbial hat into the ring.
Now that he has secured the title, Qassab is looking ahead to the upcoming term.
As part of his platform, he emphasizes the importance of maintaining transparency between himself, the College, and the students he will serve. To do so, he plans to facilitate bi-weekly open talks where all Fanshawe members can approach him with any particular issue.
“It will be a bridge between the students and the administration. I will be the bridge between them. It’s a new kind of leadership,” Qassab said.
He also intends to turn 10 per cent of his salary into a monthly bursary for students. He will work with College administration to determine who will be eligible for the funds.
Other platform points include improving supports for students navigating London’s off-campus housing market, increasing awareness of safety procedures, and hosting a TEDx lecture event for the Fanshawe and London community to enjoy.
Qassab said that in light of the Ford government’s impending Student Choice Initiative, he will work to maintain the current quality and number of mental health and wellness services made available by the FSU.
When asked if he had a message for the College, Qassab thanked everyone for their nominations and votes.
“Fanshawe students, faculty and everybody, we came closer to each other by nominating me, we made progress by getting me into the position and electing me, and I think we will celebrate and be successful when we work together,” he said.
“We are always strong together. We should always look out for each other’s backs, and support each other and lift each other up.”
Qassab’s term will officially being on May 1.