‘No matter what, life goes on’: Checking up with FSU president Katyayini Thakur
Credit: ANGELA MCINNES
Katyayini Thakur is helping to hold down the fort of the Fanshawe Student Union from the safety of home.
But leading Fanshawe’s body of 43,000 students through the fallout of a global pandemic wasn’t exactly what she had in mind.
Thankfully, with a background as a physician in India, Thakur has been able to roll with the punches.
“[My health background] has helped me out in grasping the reality of the situation,” she said. “It’s very important, at least right now, for use to get the word out at every single level so that we can get past this.”
Typically, the FSU president takes up their position at the beginning of May and gradually learns the job over the summer to prepare for the fall.
Thakur, however, had to learn the ropes remotely once she completed her studies in health systems management. She has been closely assisted by the FSU office staff, but even then the team is treading uncharted waters.
“This was not the expected experience,” Thakur said. “There wasn’t an orientation for me. I didn’t do it the usual way. But everybody was more supportive than ever in trying to make me feel comfortable.”
Now that the world has crossed over to its new state of normal, Thakur’s average workday revolves around answering a steady stream of emails before attending an average of three or four Zoom meetings. She then focuses her energies on raising awareness of the FSU via social media strategy and connecting with the students she serves.
With the executive team on a hiring freeze, Thakur said she is currently doing the work of all positions combined.
“The best we can do for the students is let them know that we’re here for them, even if we’re not available to meet them face to face, we are always here for them,” she said of the FSU. “They can come to us at any given point in time and we will get back to them.”
The FSU normally makes itself known to students by hosting events. To circumvent the lockdown, Thakur said the organization is mainly relying on using social media to bring students together. Through “Koffee with Katy” sessions, where Thakur will address student questions in video segments. Acoustic Afternoons, Trivia and Deal or No Deal games are also being hosted virtually.
Thakur said that, like anywhere else, planning for the long-term can only go on a day to day basis. Her key focus is on preparing food services accordingly for future students in residence and hopes to reopen The Out Back Shack’s patio as well.
“I had lots of plans before I got into this role as president, and all of those plans have sort of been put on hold because those are not a priority as of now. We have new priorities based on the situation,” she said. “No matter what, life goes on.”