ASSU President Lucas Kobashi is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science, with minors in physics and mathematics, as well as a Certificate in Global Studies. (Photo: supplied)

New ASSU president lauds ‘sense of community’ in College of Arts and Science, urges students to get vaccinated

For the new president of the Arts and Science Students Union (ASSU), one of the best parts of studying in the college is being part of a community.

By Shannon Boklaschuk

“I love the sense of community the College of Arts and Science fosters. There are always so many opportunities to learn and grow as a student and as a person,” said Lucas Kobashi. “Everyone has always been extremely helpful and friendly. I had the opportunity to make great friendships and connections that I will take for the rest of my life.”

This strong sense of community will be important as students, faculty and staff return to University of Saskatchewan (USask) campuses in September for in-person learning and other activities. Kobashi noted that the fall term will require “a lot of empathy” as people readjust.

“I urge the students and professors to be patient, as we are all going through the same thing. COVID is not over yet and we have all suffered from the outcomes in the past year and a half,” he said. “Please remember that we are humans and there will be a lot of adaptation going on this semester.”

Beginning Sept. 7, all students, faculty and staff will be required to show proof of at least one dose of a World Health Organization (WHO)-approved COVID-19 vaccine before coming onto campus. Proof of a second dose will be required by no later than Oct. 18.

Individuals who are unable or who are unwilling to get vaccinated will be required to provide regular and frequent negative COVID-19 test results and to submit a daily symptom checklist in order to access USask campuses. All faculty, staff, students, visitors and contractors will be required to wear 3-ply single-use masks in all indoor spaces on USask campuses in Saskatoon, Regina and Prince Albert.

“Please make sure you are vaccinated, wear your mask, follow the recommendations of the university and use reliable sources to get information from,” said Kobashi.

Kobashi became president of the ASSU for the 2021-22 academic year, succeeding his friend Palak Dhillon, after previously serving as vice-president internal affairs. Joining him on the ASSU executive this year are Veronica Dirk-Pothier, vice-president internal affairs; Ana Azevedo, vice-president marketing; Maahi Shah, vice-president external; and Sahil Soota, vice-president academic. The ASSU executives are encouraging their fellow students to get a COVID-19 vaccination to protect themselves and those around them.

Kobashi, who is originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil, came to USask after taking part in a Rotary exchange program in 2017 and completing his senior year of high school in Toronto, Ont. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science, with minors in physics and mathematics, as well as a Certificate in Global Studies.

“I have always been interested in computers and their inner mechanisms. However, it wasn’t until I took CMPT 141 that I was sure of what I wanted to do,” he said. “The College of Arts and Science gave me many opportunities to discover and fall in love with computer science.”

Outside of his studies, Kobashi enjoys listening to music, playing video games, spending time with friends and watching TV shows. He encourages his fellow Arts and Science students to get involved with the ASSU this year and to follow the organization on Instagram (@assuusask) for the latest news and updates.

“The ASSU is your elected student body to represent your voice in the College of Arts and Science. Don’t be afraid to reach out and join us for a meeting,” he said.

Kobashi said he decided to seek the presidency because he is “extremely grateful” for the opportunities the ASSU has offered to him since he started his university career.

“I wanted to give back to my college and peers, as well as keep up with the great job done by the past presidents. I believe the ASSU has a lot of potential to improve the experience of the students and I want to do my best to make it happen,” he said.

In particular, Kobashi wants to continue the “great work” undertaken by Dhillon, who served as the ASSU president as USask transitioned to remote learning in 2020.

“I want to help the students coming back on campus without forgetting the ones still at home. I want to make up for the missed opportunities on campus and make sure all students feel included and have a safe space on campus to connect with other students and enjoy the great things that we have planned for this year,” he said.

All Arts and Science students are welcome to get involved with the ASSU by attending the meetings and joining one of its four committees: academic, marketing, internal or external. Kobashi noted that students need to attend just three consecutive meetings to become an ASSU member.

“I strongly believe that the ASSU can provide not only opportunities for students to improve on their interpersonal skills, but also to be a space where students can hang out and create friendships,” he said. “Furthermore, we are the liaison between the students and the college, where we can effectively voice the students’ concerns and ideas.”

The ASSU will hold meetings and other events this fall, and Kobashi said these gatherings could take place in person “if we continue improving on vaccinations.”

“We are very aware that some students will not be returning to campus—so we are hoping to do a hybrid approach, so no one misses the activities we are preparing for this upcoming year,” he added.