Kehan Fu.
Kehan Fu.

International focus for Fu

For Kehan Fu, winning the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union (USSU) presidency was the only option.

"I was constantly nervous. I was always anxious at the possibility. But I never had a plan B," Fu said.

"You could call it a bit of arrogance, but I see it as a degree of commitment. I went into it putting everything—100 per cent."

Fu managed to pull a win out of his campaign, and will soon trade offices from his current position as vice-president student affairs as he enters his new role as USSU president.

He described this last year as a great opportunity for learning the finer details of the USSU, and looks to the well-worn path of past presidents as a good example to follow as he transitions into his new role.

"I think people often also forget that mentorship and legacies are things that we as students all want. At the end of your academic career, you realize how fast those four years were."

Fu hit a snag early on in his election run when some critics accused his campaign—which took shape as a cross-cultural blur of flashy posters, social media hubbub, special events and "Fu Dynasty" branding—of emphasizing style over substance, of being, in his own words, "all sizzle, no bacon."

Though the negative feedback was somewhat worrisome, Fu said he remains proud of all the promotional materials his team strategically chose to represent him.

"A lot of the campaign and its influences come from personal passions, but also from parts of my identity that I want to promote, that I want to express. There's a very evident Asian theme in there—we talked not just about Fu, which is my family name, but we also used Asian characteristics, the emphasis on the noodles as an Asian cuisine that I love," Fu said.

"People often forget that this is something you might not have seen on campus even five years ago, to see a candidate who's not only not visibly white, but an immigrant running a campaign that's very culturally different from what normally happens. I'm very proud of that."

His campaign was built on a multi-issue platform of big-picture themes: celebration, sharing, hospitality, home, flavour, memories and vision. These seven ideas acted as an umbrella for more targeted issues, including campus connectivity, continued support of indigenization and greater alumni engagement.

Fu plans to take particular interest in issues of internationalization on campus, both in pushing for expanded research opportunities, bringing with it more opportunities for undergrads, and helping campus to better understand the vast diversity that exists within the blanket term "international students."

"Just because you have one student from China and another from Nigeria, that categorization of international students is still a very artificial one, and I think there needs to be a better system within both administration and within campus culture in general of understanding the nuances of the different cultures that are actually represented under that international banner," he said.

With only one year of experience with the organization, alongside three prior terms with the Arts and Science Students' Union, Fu is somewhat of a greener leader than the USSU has seen in recent years. Fu said he wants to make sure he does not lose track of the people who were confident enough to help him get to this point despite his comparative inexperience.

"That's probably one of the driving forces of what I want to be as a president: somebody who's constantly aware of why I got this job and the people who could have had this job, but chose not to and are still supporting."

Though he has no plans to run for re-election in 2017, Fu said he hopes that whoever takes his place can similarly learn from his own time in office and continue where he leaves off.

"I'm going to be gone after this year from this student position, but I don't want all the work that we've done as a team, that I've done, to not just be forgotten, per se, but to slide away and for people to have to re-learn the mistakes and successes that we've made," Fu said.

"That's what the dynasty would represent: the idea that every year is a continuation and that every year is going to be better than the last one."

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