January 5, 2022
This statement is shared on behalf of Gabe Liosis, Simon Fraser Student Society President
This letter serves as my notice that effective January 24th, 2022, at 5pm, I will be resigning as Simon Fraser Student Society President.
Serving as an Executive, first as Vice-President University Relations on the 2020-21 Executive Committee, and then as President on the 2021-22 Executive Committee, has been the greatest honour of my life. This experience has been like none other than I have ever had the privilege of experiencing. Engaging in activism and advocacy on behalf of 25,000+ students and influencing change at the highest levels of this University, and beyond, is extremely rewarding. Activism has always held a special place in my life – to know that my voice, energy, and time can contribute to changing systems to benefit people within the community.
But in the face of these wonderful experiences, this job has also presented many challenges for me personally that I want to share with you openly which has led to my resignation.
My journey with the Simon Fraser Student Society started in Spring 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic was entering our lives. As the world was grappling with these unprecedented times, I – like many people my age were – began to grapple with deep mental health challenges associated with social isolation and burnout, which worsened over the next 21 months.
What I am experiencing is severe anxiety and depression. Anxiety has always been something I have battled, as an introvert and generally a person who sets high standards for themselves. However, it became increasingly unbearable over the last two years, not only because of the pandemic, but performing an incredibly difficult job on top of that. My anxiety has become particularly bad since returning to campus for in-person learning in September 2021.
I have done everything in my power to address my mental health challenges while maintaining my position. But when you decide to run for President of a student society, you take on a big responsibility. You are required to be highly accessible and responsive to members, Council, staff, and SFU at all hours of the day. That alone can be quite difficult for someone who is an introvert, where social interactions can be draining. You also bear the burden of representing and advocating for your friends, your peers, and marginalized communities – you are expected to perform your best as anything less will result in harm to those people and groups.
It is safe to say that I have not prioritized my mental health in the way that it needs to be prioritized. I believe that staying in this position will only do further harm to myself and exacerbate the existing issue, and furthermore, it will harm others if I am unable to provide the support that is required of me in my role.
I care deeply about this Society and its members, and the steps we must take to make it better. During my nearly three years with the Simon Fraser Student Society, in varying positions, I have worked hard with others to reform and rebuild the Society for it to work better for its Membership. Right now, I do not believe I can be the person to lead the charge in moving the Society in the direction that it needs.
This was a hard decision for me to make; I grappled with this for a long time. But I do not, and will not, regret taking any actions I deem necessary to protect my mental health, even if it means stepping away from a job that I love with immense passion.
As per By-Law 14, once my resignation takes effect, Vice-President Internal & Organizational Development Corbett Gildersleve will serve as Acting President until May 1st, 2022.
During this interim period, where Corbett is Acting President, Council will appoint a Councillor as Acting Vice-President Internal & Organizational Development, who will serve in that role, until May 1st, 2022.
I am deeply appreciative and grateful to the people who have always, and continue, to support me in the work that I do, and provide me with love, guidance, and friendship. I would never have made it to where I am now, if not for the amazing people that I am surrounded by every day.
In solidarity and a heart full of gratitude,
President, Simon Fraser Student Society, May 2021 – January 2022