The Capilano Students’ Union turns 50 Series #3

Past members of the executive reflect upon their time at the CSU, how it’s changed, and what they hope for its future

Bridget Stringer-Holden (she/her) // News Editor

Perry Safari (he/him)

Safari served as the President and Vice-President of Finance and Services from 2017 to 2018. A large part of his portfolio included overseeing the finances of the organization and ensuring responsible spending. “It was a very supportive environment because we’re all students at the end of the day and we all need help sometimes,” he said, referring to help with the audit and creating the next year’s budget.

Some tough decisions regarding the health and dental plan were made that year, and Safari ensured that student perspectives and expectations were brought forward to the Services Committee. “Premiums were going up like crazy the following year, and we had to give students the option of whether to pay a little more to get the same coverage or — if I recall correctly — pay the same but get less coverage,” he said.

The services aspect of the position included oversight as well, but Safari was able to be a part of the creation of new services as well, such as the electronic repair service, Device Doctor, which he considers to be the most memorable thing he helped accomplish. “It exists today as a result of what some people did back then — they set their minds to it and worked together to accomplish it,” he said, mentioning how Kate Jarman — who was a staff member, but also a student at the time — and Chris Girodat, were very supportive of Device Doctor.

“It was a very unique executive setup, and being able to work on projects that clearly mattered to us all despite our different backgrounds and different ways of thinking was very rewarding for me,”said Safari, noting that diverse representation is something he hopes will continue to grow and progress at the CSU. Safari made time during his presidency to meet with board members to try to understand their perspectives, especially since he didn’t come from a background of advocacy and nonprofit work.

While he found it rewarding, working with different-minded people was a double edged sword. “One of the challenging things that I had to overcome — and I’m not even sure if I overcame it, but I just had to work with it — was keeping some level of unison among members of my executive team, and in many cases on the board as well.” He found engagement from the board quite difficult, likely due to a multitude of factors, but challenging nonetheless.

One of the lessons that Safari tries to pass onto others is that “what you put into it, is what you get out of it.” He finds it a simple, but sometimes overlooked concept. “When you have a seat on the Board of Directors, you’re representing students, your peers, a constituency, a faculty, and that’s that’s a big deal.” Thankfully, he feels as if board engagement has improved — at least from his outside perspective. He noted that the subsequent board was smaller but very passionate about what they were doing.

Safari also feels that the sky’s the limit in how cohesively a student union and their university can work together, even though during his year he felt that it couldn’t get much better. “As the university is growing, so is the CSU,” he says, excited to see what joint initiatives can be done between the CSU and CapU in the future. “They both have very common goals and initiatives that they strive towards, which creates grounds for great opportunities to work together and to cater to each other’s strengths to service students better.”

In the future, Safari hopes for more awareness about the CSU positions and more people who step up to try out for the positions. “Even if a lot of people feel that they’re underqualified, I feel like those are the ones that are often very valuable to these kinds of organizations,” he says, noting that he sees a lot of modest people who don’t realize the strengths they have to offer organizations like the CSU. “You don’t need a resume of having done ten years of advocacy — the foundation and the basis of it is caring about your peers and your community.”

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