Focussing on fun: new FSU Execs plan for the year ahead

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: ANGELA MCINNES
It's been a tough year, but the new FSU Exec team is gearing up to promote student engagement and fun.

A new team of executives has taken over the Fanshawe Union Student (FSU).

Ricardo Souza is the new president of the FSU, winning this year’s election with nearly 1,000 votes back in March. The former advocacy and communications coordinator admitted he never expected the win.

“I was not expecting to be in this position,” explained Souza. He recalled walking through the hallways of Fanshawe College, seeing other students’ campaign posters for president and thinking he couldn’t possibly be up for that kind of challenge. But, after working with the FSU for a year, Souza had a change of heart.

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“I fell in love with the FSU and getting involved with the students and advocating on behalf of them. Then the opportunity [for president] came up and I decided to face the challenge.”

While things are just getting off the ground for the new FSU Exec team, Souza said he feels confident about the year ahead.

“I had some proximity with the team already because I’ve been working here for one year,” said Souza. “But I think president is a whole different situation. I have so many meetings with so many people; presenting the FSU, discussing ideas, sharing what we are planning for the next year, and having new ideas on how we’re going to transition from the online format to the hybrid format as soon as possible.”

For Souza, focusing on fun is his biggest goal as president.

“I think we should focus our efforts for students this year on providing a little bit of fun,” he said. “Last year, we were more [focussed on] being resilient, we should be adaptable. But now, one year later, I think students are tired of this whole thing of being resilient. And we have to provide them with a little bit of fun for now.”

Another member of the team hoping to bring the fun is student life coordinator, Ismail Aravai. A graduate of the University of Mumbai, Aravai is ready to bring his business savvy to the position.

“Student life coordinator specifically focuses on improving student life and the student experience with college,” said Aravai on what attracted him to the position.

As an international student, Aravai said the FSU was a big help to him when he first arrived in Canada.

“Before this role, I had attended a couple of events with the FSU, and when I landed here I took advantage of the bus pass that FSU had made,” he said.

Despite COVID-19, Aravai has high hopes that the team can engage students.

“We will be coming up with some ideas on how to deliver the programs, and come up with any new events on how students can engage more with the FSU in this virtual environment,” said Aravai.

Joining Aravai and Souza are FSU advocacy and communications coordinator, Tanushree Prasad, FSU finance coordinator Karen Martinez, as well as a stacked team of directors, including Sana Abidi, Dany Joshua Bilapati, Bradley O’Kelly, Siddharth Patel, Franck Albert Sigah, and Vatsal Prakashbhai Tripathi.

Although Souza wants to focus on providing some levity for students in the wake of COVID-19, he said he’s aware of the biggest issues facing students right now.

“I think the online environment is a struggle for all students,” said Souza. “It slows down their communication. This has been very stressful and communication has been a big issue. So we are trying to organize a little bit better, the information, to connect better with students….and to help them connect with the staff inside the college.”

Souza added that he aims to help support students through financial aid initiatives, and continue to facilitate communication with Fanshawe’s counselling services to assist students dealing with mental health concerns.