A high-profile B.C. student leader is stepping back from the spotlight to protect his mental health.
Gabe Liosis said in a statement that effective January 24, he will be resigning as president of the Simon Fraser Student Society. He's been in office since May of last year after serving as vice president university relations in the 2020-21 academic year.
"What I am experiencing is severe anxiety and depression," Liosis revealed. "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."
As the student society president, Liosis advocated on behalf of more than 25,000 students. He said that it has been extremely rewarding to be able to influence change at the highest levels of the university.
"I have done everything in my power to address my mental health challenges, while maintaining my position," Liosis stated.
Liosis is a graduate of Maple Ridge secondary and studies political science at SFU.
He acknowledged that it's important for a president to be highly accessible and responsive to student society members, but said that this is difficult for a person like him, who's an introvert, because it can be very 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," he declared.
Liosis acknowledged that this was a difficult decision and that after he resigns, a society bylaw will elevate the vice president internal and organizational development, Corbett Gildersleve, to acting president until May 1.
"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," Liosis said. "I would never have made it to where I am now, if not for the amazing people that I am surrounded by every day."