Get to Know Your SSMU Candidates

17 Mar, 2013

Christopher Bangs: President 

Quick bio?

Hey everyone! My name’s Chris, I’m a U3 Honours Economics, Political Science and

Urban Systems student, and I am so excited to be a candidate for SSMU President.

I have two years of experience working with SSMU. As a founder of the Independent Student Inquiry in 2011, I worked closely with then VP University Affairs and current VP Clubs and Services to produce a comprehensive report into the events of November 10th on campus. Since then, I have worked as the Campaigns Coordinator of the SSMU, an inter- portfolio position that has required me to engage with all six Executive positions. I have written a comprehensive Green Investment Action Plan for the SSMU and collaborated with Legislative Council to promote students’ interests.

Salut! Je m’appelle Chris, et j’étudie les sciences économiques, la science politique, et les systèmes urbains. J’étais fondateur de l’Enquête indépendante étudiante, je suis présentement coordinateur des campagnes de l’AÉUM, et je travailles avec tous les exécutif(ive)s pour promouvoir les intérêts des étudiant(e)s.

What platform are you running on?

I’m running for President because students’ principles of Equity, Sustainability, and Participation should guide our Society. As SSMU President, I am committed to making our Society work better for all of us. Together, we will build a Mental Health Plan and Equity Action Plans and conduct a thorough tuition review. We will realize the student-run café, expand green career opportunities, and work with McGill to make its investments sustainable, and implement a contract duration maximum responsive to students. Finally, we will increase the club fund to support student initiatives, consider changing our ancillary fee funding policies, and make General Assemblies work better.

With a collection of strong action points—including bylaw changes, specific transparency initiatives, a Mental Health Fund, and plan proposals—my platform is actionable, responsible and realistic. For my full platform, check out chrisforpresident.ca.

Je suis candidat pour le poste de président parce que je crois que les valeurs étudiantes de l’équité, de l’écologie, et de la participation doivent guider l’AÉUM. J’augmenterai les opportunités de carrières dans les secteurs verts, je promouvrai la santé mentale, l’accessibilité et l’équité sur le campus et je mettrai sur pied le café étudiant. Nous allons créer des archives des votes les sénateurs et conseillers et doubler le financement des clubs.

Veuillez visiter chrisforpresident.ca pour en savoir plus. Ma plateforme en français sera disponible bientôt.

Why are you running? Why is student government important?

As Campaigns Coordinator of the SSMU, I’ve seen every side of SSMU imaginable. I worked with Equity Commissioners, the Sustainability Coordinators, and the Environmental Commissioner, with the Financial Ethics Research Committee, with Councilors and Senators, and with all six Executives.

What I saw above all else is that working hard for students is what’s important. I am running for SSMU because I will put in the time and effort needed to lead SSMU forward, and I have the proven track record of results and efficiency, along with the necessary experience, to make it happen.

Student government is important because we students have discrete interests and values, many of which we share with other members of our broader communities but many of which are unique to us. With strong commitments to equity and sustainability, to accessibility and mutual support, to student clubs, services and initiatives, we deserve the opportunity to look out for each other and work together through our own systems and structures.

Thinking back on my time here at McGill, our Society’s clubs and services have made this university experience so much better. I think most of us have similar sentiments. Our student government is the body that facilitates this, that makes it all possible. I am excited to get this opportunity to expand the services offered to students and to make all of our times here better.

What are the successes and failures of this year’s SSMU? What would you have done differently?

I think that President Redel has done an absolutely terrific job with what he has been handed. He and VP (Clubs and Services) Cooper have been tireless working on behalf of students, and they have handled everything they inherited with competency and professionalism. I wish that President Redel had had more of an opportunity to bring something new to the job. I am hard-pressed to name a new initiative under his portfolio, which is regrettable.

President Knight, his predecessor, had regular consultation sessions so that students could always participate in the governance of the Society; the VP C&S and the VP External have spearheaded the only similar initiatives that occurred this year. I wish Josh had continued and expanded the opportunities for involvement, and I will make accessibility a major component of my Presidency.

Similarly, I wish President Redel’s administration were more open with its activities. There has been almost no regular communication to students on the issues that matter most, and if elected I will make the information public that students need, subject to confidentiality restrictions, as regularly as possible.

How do you foresee Montreal and McGill’s political climate affecting the role of SSMU and SSMU executives in the upcoming year?

The budget cuts that the university system faces are unacceptable, and the largest tuition hike in fifty years is not an option. SSMU, working with its national representatives, should collaborate with the McGill Administration to fight for adequate and fair funding for universities, without shifting the costs onto the backs of working students.

The VP External position will probably be an active one next year, and I am excited to work with them to promote our interestsWe need to unite here against the budget cuts, so that McGill can continue to be a world-class research university, and so that high-quality education will be accessible to all. We deserve better than the draconian cuts and hikes of the Parti Québecois.

Beyond the need for adequate funding, there are broader concerns here. Corruption continues to be an issue across the province and specifically in the McGill University Health Center. Divestment from fossil fuels is an issue at the forefront of student politics here at McGill (which nearly every executive candidate supports!), and students at McGill are taking it to TaCEQ, FEUQ, and ASSE to make divestment a national movement.

Finally, I am particularly worried about the methods through which the budget cuts are being imposed at McGill. The administration is threatening to increase percentage fees for Student Services, which is funded by students not the University, and it is cutting courses for students. I want to use my strong connections to allies in the Administration, MAUT, AMUSE, MUNACA, MCSS, and PGSS to push for a fair and equitable distribution of cuts, with a focus on reducing expenditures on lawyers’ fees and bureaucracy.

Get to know you questions:

Favorite . . .

Trilogy?

Lord of the Rings

Pizza Topping?

Mushrooms, basil, and garlic

Guilty Pleasure?

The best show on television today, Vampire Diaries

Study Area?

SSMU Office (.50 cent coffee machine)

Rom Com?

I’m not-so-secretly a huge fan of rom coms, especially if they’re queer or really trashy.

On a tangent, there’s a kick starter for a Veronica Mars movie; it’s not a rom com I know, but it’s going to be amazing.

Katie Larson: President

Quick bio?

I am a U3 Student at the Schulich School of Music and have been actively involved in student life and student governement on campus the last three years. I currently sit on the SSMU Legislative Council and am the VP External for the Music Undergraduate Students’ Association which I was President of last year. Additionally, I worked as one of the SSMU Frosh Coordinators this summer, and have been active working on SSMU committees including the Funding Committee, External Affiars Committee, and the Students’ Society Programming Network.

What platform are you running on?

I want to focus on four things next year: strengthening relationships between student groups on campus, finding ways to more effectively represent 22,000 undergrads, promoting health and wellness on campus and review the student staff and executive positions within the SSMU.

Why are you running? Why is student government important?

I am running because I feel confident that I have the experience to do the job well. The thing I most look forward to as SSMU President is being positioned to interact with a wide variety of groups on campus including student government, administrative and governance bodies. The role of student governement is to represent students to these bodies and to Quebec externally, and it is imperative that the SSMU President works hard to foster relationships that increase the sense of community on campus overall.

What are the successes and failures of this year’s SSMU? What would you have done differently?

This year’s SSMU could have done more work in the way of communication with the undergraduate students and working on visibility on campus. It is important that students understand what SSMU is, and that there are amazing opportunities to get involved through clubs, services and operations under the SSMU. This communication challenge is not new at McGill, and general apathy of many students can be a limiting factor, however it is important that the SSMU continue to push for new and creative ways to encourage students to join in student life activities outside of the classroom.

How do you foresee Montreal and McGill’s political climate affecting the role of SSMU and SSMU executives in the upcoming year?

SSMU is represented through a larger student organization, TaCEQ. It is important that students can become aware that TaCEQ exists and that through this body, McGill students are represented provincially. As the current government seems to lack commitment to funding university in Quebec, it will be an important year for the SSMU to understand the political situation that these budget cuts will create in the university system, and communicate well to students how they effect McGill.

Get to know you questions:

Favorite…

Trilogy?

Lord of the Rings

Pizza Topping?

Veggies

Guilty Pleasure?

Gummy Bears

Study Area?

Music Library

Rom Com?

 27 Dresses

Julia Kryluk: VP Internal

What platform are you running on?

My platform has three key tenets: inclusivity and accessibility, diversification and innovation of events and the integration of equity, sustainability and accountability.

All students should have the equal opportunity to participate in events that they enjoy. This means offering events that appeal to all sorts of students from parties to spirit events to everyday special activities or workshops.

Offering events and activities that are accessible to everyone by ensuring they are affordable to every student and just cover the necessary costs.

Innovation of events where my key focus is on Orientation and Homecoming. Having an Orientation that can offer events to students of all interests, being able to include students that are under the legal age of 18 in the festivities appropriately. I believe Homecoming should be more engaging and interactive by involving Faculties, Varsity sports teams, SSMU clubs and Greek life. Homecoming doesn’t need to be just about the football game it is about alumni and current students celebrating together in the school spirit and community that is McGill.

The integration of equity, sustainability and accountability: Equity is something that really needs to be integrated into events, most notably Orientation. Equity is a process and needs to start with setting examples to show what is appropriate. Starting with working with the coordinators and Frosh Leaders to ensure they truly understand the concept of equity. Frosh Leaders are arguably the most important as they are the point of contact with the students and they are the ones who can create a fun and inclusive experience within their own group.

Sustainability is key in events, this is all about keeping things local, utilizing the space that we have on campus like in Shatner, Gert’s or the Red Path Museum to host certain events or activities instead of outsourcing to other locations. By holding events on campus we have the ability to be more environmentally sustainable as we have control over the garbage/recycling, type of tickets, cups used etc.

Lastly, accountability: ensuring that the students know that they can approach me at any time. Enforcing an open door policy where students can always drop by and speak their mind.

Why are you running? Why is student government important?

I have been involved at McGill since my first day, serving on the Molson Hall Council and joining the McGill Cheerleading Team. Since then I have coordinated numerous events on campus like Frosh, Carnival, Faculty Olympics and 4 Floors. I served as SSMU councillor last year and have worked directly with the current and past VP Internals Mike Szpjedza and Todd Plummer. With all this experience I have been able to truly determine the qualities that make a good Internal. I have a serious passion for school spirit and am eager to make events more fun, exciting and inclusive to everyone. I feel this has been lacking in the Internal portfolio and want to breathe some life into the position. I want to bring the school community together by holding a slate of events that can appeal to all students and getting athletics and SSMU clubs more integrated into SSMU events.

Student government is important because it allows us-the students to have a voice. Specifically in the Internal portfolio it allows students to plan events for students. Who better to plan freshman orientation than students who just had their orientation a few years ago? We are lucky that administration gives us the freedom to plan our Orientation and make it as legendary as we all know it is. Students come to college to do more than just take classes; learning to live independently and beginning the next stage of their lives is a huge step. It’s important that everyone can enjoy their time here at McGill and make great memories, and student government is unique in that the enjoyment and benefit of our constituents gets to be a top priority. I would get to wake up every day thinking and working towards making it the most pleasant and special one possible for everyone else.

What are the successes and failures of this year’s SSMU? What would you have done differently?

This past Orientation was successful and VP Szpedja did a wonderful job of integrating the SSMU Frosh and the Faculty Frosh together. This was also the first year that SSMU did try to get events for students under the age of 18. I think that moving forward we can continue in the same vein by expanding even more to make Frosh even more inclusive. Having a special frosh offered to those who do not wish to participate in Faculty Frosh that can have its own leaders and its own slate of activities making sure it is inclusive, fun and safe.

Secondly, it’s time to start institutionalizing standard practices that can maintain an entire year of steady programming rather than just a few key big ticket events. I love our traditions so much and would work to improve them – Homecoming especially, since each year it’s difficult to pull off – but I think my main priority would be a full calendar of frequent small-to-medium events to keep students engaged and happy. It is the little things that make a difference in people’s everyday lives and having SSMU there to offer small workshops, activities or games can keep student life thriving even during the dullest moments.

How do you foresee Montreal and McGill’s political climate affecting the role of SSMU and SSMU executives in the upcoming year?

It’s clear that the political environment here is going to be a central theme throughout the year, and if I’ve learned anything in the last two years, especially 2011-12, it’s the importance of a unified executive. Not only will tuition battles and university funding cuts be a huge part of what we will have to deal with, but also the entire future of post-secondary education in this province is in jeopardy. With that being said, the role of the VP Internal is to interact with the students, improve student life and plan exciting and inclusive student events. If I foresee the political climate will affect the duties and responsibilities of my portfolio I would consult with the VP External for his/ her opinion and decide on a plan of action together to move forward in a constructive manner. The most important thing is to have a unified executive team ready to protect students’ interests.

Get to know you questions:

Favorite…

Trilogy?

The Bourne Series…there’s actually 4 movies

Pizza Topping?

Pepperoni

Guilty Pleasure?

The Twilight Saga

Study Area?

Call me a SNAIL but I get so much done in the Law library!

Rom Com?

A classic, You’ve Got Mail

Brian Farnan: VP Internal

Quick bio?

Born in Prince George, British Columbia moved down to Vancouver where I am based. Attended French Immersion and graduated with a Dogwood Certificate (bi-lingual high school diploma). Have been obsessed with sports since a young age, playing soccer, rugby, track-and-field and cross-country at high levels. Although managed to dabble in many sports, swimming competitively was my main focus–competing on the regional, provincial and national levels with best finish 4th place at Nationals (for my age-group). Since then I have continued to participate in sport, completing my first half-iron man last summer. I am studying Political Science and Communications, with a passion for Political Theory. Spent the past four years deeply involved with student government and extra-curricular activities, and now am looking to serve as your VP Internal.

What platform are you running on?

My platform is based off of a mix of experience and concrete, tangible ideas that I will be sure get achieved over the course of my tenure.

My experience is perfectly suited for the position of VP Internal; I have served as Management Carnival Captain 2010/2011/2012, VP Internal for Molson Hall, VP Events for Right to Play Executive, currently the VP External for the Arts Undergraduate Society, have sat on the SSMU Community Engagement Committee, created and chair the Arts Community Engagement Committee and have spent this past term shadowing the current VP Internal Mike Shypada.

My platform is based off of three aspects: Communications, Events and Executive. These are the three responsibilities of the VP Internal. For Communications: I seek to implement my “Simplify McGill” initiative (graphic design project simplifying the various uncharted areas of McGill’s bureaucracy, administration and services into a digestible form for students), increase social media as a means of communication, expand and innovate current media platforms to include multi-media. For Events: Institute certificate program in which the Department/Faculty/School would award Certificates/Reference letters to Operations Staff, Frosh Leaders and Coordinators involved in Frosh/Orientation week, pursue the Equitable Events protocol, institute Sustainability, Equity and Community chairs/consultation on all events committees and work towards standardized tactics across faculty/alternative/SSMU Frosh. For Executive: I hope to lend the event-planning and communications capabilities of the VP Internal to the other positions of the Executive Team and seek External support and/or consultation for effective Student Surveying and Marketing/Advertising.

Why are you running? Why is student government important?

I am incredibly passionate about McGill, SSMU and campus life. I have been involved since my first-year arriving at McGill, captaining my first Carnival team and serving as VP Internal of Molson Hall got me hooked on giving back to this amazing community and giving my time to improving everyone’s experience. I have known I was running for VP Internal since September and have been shadowing the position since January which I have done to both show my commitment & respect to the position and the portfolio and also, to become well-versed in all aspects of the VP Internals’ job. All I want is to be given another year to spend here at McGill, to be able to contribute as a student and executive to improving McGill for everyone. Student government is crucial to the operation of student life here at McGill. After having given 4 years of dedication to this school, I have learned that not a lot of people understand the gravity of the projects and decisions that are made by their elected representatives. From deciding on student services, to structuring programs and initiatives to benefit the student population and defending the academic interests of our constituents, us members of student government volunteer our time to ensure these aspects of the school experience are improved and maintained. Would I like people to understand how much we student volunteers accomplish? Absolutely. Do I think it’s going to happen? Not necessarily and I AINT MAD.

What are the successes and failures of this year’s SSMU? What would you have done differently?

This year’s executive has been able to accomplish great things this academic year; they have increased student participation and awareness on many key issues and events (from Space Campaign to innovating this year’s GA) and have been able to make it look easy. The executive team has been extremely approachable and open-minded and have been able to handle all hiccups in stride. Having sat on SSMU Council this year and worked closely with many of the executives, I am humbled knowing I am able to potentially take one of their places in the upcoming year.

I don’t think that they had any failures this year but I think every Executive believes they could have improved on certain aspects or done others differently. As a unit, I believe the executive team did a fantastic job; as individuals, I believe there is work to be done or else none of the candidates running for a position would have a platform! I think that the 13 month tenure that each executive holds is split in between learning the aspects of the portfolio/how to effectively serve the Society in that role and the second half is the aspect in which you have room to innovate. I think that the earlier I manage to start planning over the summer and managing my time effectively, the sooner I can reach that point where I am innovating the position and improving it. Specific to the Internal position this year, I think that I would have tried to bolster the Communications aspect of the portfolio: both expanding the reach and influence of SSMU Communications, and to get more creative with the ways the SSMU Executive communicated with the society.

How do you foresee Montreal and McGill’s political climate affecting the role of SSMU and SSMU executives in the upcoming year?

It will inevitably affect the role of SSMU and SSMU Executives in the upcoming year. As a large academic institution in the middle of downtown Montreal in a very tumultuous political landscape, SSMU and SSMU Executives will have to engage and mediate the situation in the coming years; it is about acting/reacting to the changes in our environment in a manner that protects the fundamental mandates, goals and aspects of our Society’s mission and doing so in a manner that is consistent with the desires of our students. SSMU will have to take a stance on various issues and the most important thing for an Executive is to ensure that the operation of society is never threatened and the voices of the students are heard.

Get to know you questions:

Favorites…

Trilogy?

THE MIGHTY DUCKS

Pizza Topping?

If cheese doesn’t count: Chicken fer shure. So versatile…

Guilty Pleasure?

Brushing and Flossing my teeth multiple times a day….sorry it’s not your typical “Lazy Sundays”

Study Area?

My room absolutely. Void of florescent lighting, I can kick it in my PJ’s, drink free coffee/munch on free food and conveniently take naps whenever I so please.

Rom Com?

Had to think about this one pretty hard, one of those lose-lose questions. Having three sisters really broadens your movie interests…

If I had to pick I would say….10 Things I Hate About You and How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days.

Young Heath Ledger and an adaptation of Shakespeare leave 10 Things as a definite winner. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days….well…yeah…

Sam Gregory: VP University Affairs

Quick bio?

I was born in England and grew up watching football, eating scones, and listening to some of the classics of the 90′s like S Club 7 and the Darkness. At 12 years old, I moved with my family to Calgary Canada, where I soon became known as ‘British Sam’ amongst my friends. I spent the next six years adapting to Canadian life, often hitting up some of Alberta’s best skiing, drinking Tim Horton’s daily, and learning the appropriate use of the word ‘eh’. Understanding Canadian life is harder than one thinks – I was once joked into believing by my band teacher that a Dairy Queen ‘Dilly Bar’ is a deep fried sausage on a stick. He, and the entire class, had me believe it for about 2 months. Last year, I came to Montreal to start my life at McGill, where I have been since!

What platform are you running on?

Very broadly, I have four main platform points.

First, I want to increase Student Senator Accountability and Outreach by using the SSMU social media, website and a new blog, to increase awareness about the important work that Student Senators are doing. This will mean that more students from across the University will be able to participate in the conversations and debates that affect them.

Secondly I want to increase student voice to the administration. This will be achieved through re-establishing the University wide consultation fairs and working with the administration to make them accessible to students. It will also be achieved through strengthening the role of the McGill Academic Round Table – a SSMU committee that brings together the various VP Academics from across the student faculty associations to discuss and debate issues and initiate projects to address them.

Third, there are a number of important projects that I want to work on as part of my portfolio to improve students Academic lives. These include continuing to work with administration on library improvements, finding creative solutions to grading discrepancies across faculties and finally increase the awareness of both students and professors on Academic Assessment Policies – for example, did you know that, if you have to legitimately miss a midterm, the professor HAS to offer you a second one – they can’t just say it will put towards the final.

Lastly, I am taking clear stances and making clear plans for dealing with the more controversial issues on campus, including divest McGill and the Weapons Research Free Campus initiative. To learn more about my stances on these, and to read more about my campaign in detail, please visitwww.samgregoryvpua.ca

Why are you running? Why is student government important?

I am running for the position of VP University Affairs because I believe we have a very unique opportunity next year as students, as we get to engage with a new Principal and a new Deputy Provost Student Life and Learning. This will mean establishing strong, respectful and collaborative relationships from the beginning, and I strongly believe that I am the best person to do this. As the McGill Food and Dining Ombudstudent (think ombudsman) this year, I have already been recognized as someone who is able to work well with administration by creating respectful and effective dialogue. Furthermore, as the Senate and Committee Secretary General at SSMU, I have had many opportunities to already build strong relationships with many of the administration I would be working with next year.

Student government is important, especially in the context of the VP University Affairs position, because students need to be represented in the decision making process of their University. The VP University Affairs position deals with issues related to academics, teaching and earning pedagogy’s, space on campus (Libraries, classrooms etc.) and the policies and programs of Student Services. This is why it is critical that students become engaged with SSMU and the elections, because we as student leaders have influence over the very thing we came here to do – learning. Beyond the position of VP University Affairs, the SSMU provides essential support on campus to over 300 student clubs and groups, manages the only easily accessible student space on campus, and aims to provide safe, equitable spaces on campus for all students.

What are the successes and failures of this year’s SSMU? What would you have done differently?

I think the SSMU Executive this year have done an exceptional job at rebuilding a community on campus after a very divisive year last year. They have worked very well with University Administration to bridge gaps and find consensus, and I feel this is very important going forward. Further, some very cool projects have come from SSMU this year, including the SEAMLESS conference initiated by SSMU President Josh Redel that brought together student leaders from across campus to learn from one another, as well as the recent Space Campaign for the Shatner building.

One of the biggest challenges that SSMU faces is truly engaging with all students on issues and carrying out full consultation across the campus on controversial issues. I would have advocated for a more widely done consultation on the Divest Campaign, as I feel that many students voices, especially those concerned about the campaign in Engineering and Mining programs, have not been fully listened to yet. Further, I would have promoted that the campaign contact students and administration from faculties of Engineering and Management to be a part of the research process – this being said, it still isn’t too late to do this.

How do you foresee Montreal and McGill’s political climate affecting the role of SSMU and SSMU executives in the upcoming year?

This is really hard to predict. I think that if we see an escalation of protests from students across Montreal, it will be up to the students to decide how, if at all, they want to be involved. With the budget cuts coming our way over the next few years, students will need to decide how they want to react, and then SSMU needs to be there to support them on it. Student may decide to bunker down, take the cuts, and work to find the best ways to deal with them. Or, they may decide to take a more vocal stance against the cuts and the PQ government. If I were to take a guess, I think that most student would pick the first option, and then I believe it is SSMU’s job, and especially mine as the VP University Affairs, to work with students to achieve this. This will mean listening to students and understanding what they value the most – and therefore what they are least willing to cut – and communicating this to the University. SSMU will also need to talk about some of the other ideas out there in dealing with the cuts – some have suggested that SSMU should push for an increase in fee’s to Student Services, so that we can counteract the cuts that are coming. The point is, it will be SSMU’s responsibility to ensure that the conversations are happening between students and the University and that we advocate on behalf of students for what we hear from them.

Get to know you questions:

Favorites…

Trilogy?

Lord of the Rings, hands down.

Pizza Topping?

I used to work at Little Caesars when I was a kid. I would make this amazing pizza with hot and BBQ sauce, chicken, onions, banana peppers and pineapple. I would then stuff the crust with cheese, and eat it with ranch sauce. So good.

Guilty Pleasure?

The cookies they sell at the Royal Victoria College (RVC) cafeteria. They have so much butter in them and are so delicious. I eat like, one a day.

Study Area?

Everywhere really. Second floor of Bronfman is nice, and the new group study area of Redpath is great. I also like coffee shops – El Mundo is great.

Rom Com?

Oh this is easy: P.S I Love You. I start crying from the moment the husband dies and can’t stop. It’s my one weak spot. I don’t remember the last time I cried in a movie otherwise.

Samuel Harris: VP External

Quick Bio?

I’m a U3 joint honours history and political science student. As a fluently bilingual lifelong Montrealer, I feel that I have a good understanding of McGill and the wider Montreal and Quebec communities. I have been both an outsider to McGill – my life in Montreal before attending university – and now as an insider with McGill and the SSMU, where I’ve been involved with the SSMU external affairs committee this year. I have also attended meetings of the TaCEQ (Table de Concertation Étudiante du Québec – the national student association of which SSMU is a member) with this year’s VP External, Robin Reid-Fraser.

What platform are you running on?

Here is my platform, copied from my website samforvpexternal.wordpress.com:
General statement:
For the year ahead, I propose holding discussion workshops with other Montreal universities, electing delegates to TaCEQ, informing members of the SSMU of the important issues at stake in November’s municipal election, strengthening our ties with the residents of Milton-Parc, and expanding initiatives like Intro to Quebec Week. Look below for a more detailed description of my platform.

Specific platform points:

A) Discussion workshops with other Montreal universities:

Despite our geographic proximity to three other universities – UQÀM, Université de Montréal, and Concordia, we seldom have any conversation with students from those institutions. Though McGill is thought of as a bastion of elitism and conceitedness, I have found this to be untrue. What I propose for the next year it to collaborate with these other institutions and hold discussions on a variety of topics so that we can have a better understanding of who we are, where we are coming from, and how our ideas differ. This could also be an opportunity for English-speakers to practice their French, and vice-versa.

B) Elect delegates to TaCEQ:

This would increase TaCEQ’s visibility on campus and allow more members of the society to get involved. While I support SSMU’s continued participation in the TaCEQ, there will be no blank cheques – literally and figuratively. If it fails to fulfill its role, we will explore all options.

C) Informing SSMU members of the issues relevant to them in the 2013 municipal elections:

This would include things like hosting a debate between political parties, having talks about the major issues at hand, etc. I will also be prepared to involve the SSMU in relevant issues should a provincial election be called.

D) Strengthening relations with residents of Milton-Parc (McGill Ghetto):

I propose that we continue pilot projects, such as the community ambassadors programme currently underway, so as to ascertain best practices that will build stronger relations with members of the Milton-Parc community.

E) Expand and continue initiatives like Intro to Quebec Week:

This year, we had the inaugural Intro to Quebec Week in January. Various people presented workshops and discussions on several aspects of Quebec society. Due to frigid weather and a some miscommunication, it was not as well attended as it could have been. I therefore propose moving it to September and collaborating with groups like the Comité d’affaires francophones, so we can make it successful, enjoyed, and well-attended.

Why are you running? Why is student government important?

I’m running because I feel that I can bridge the gaps between McGill and the wider Montreal and Quebec communities, specifically through the above-mentioned initiatives that I propose. I am also very politically engaged, and as I previously mentioned, my bilingualism is an important asset for communicating with the external communities of Montreal and Quebec, which are predominantly francophone. Student government is important because we have the unique opportunity to have total autonomy over what we do and what we believe in (services, clubs, ideas we believe in, companies we invest in, etc.). McGill would be infinitely less enjoyable if SSMU were not around to do what it does, and was not accountable to the people it serves – McGill undergrads. It is also a way for McGill students to stand up to the bad decisions decreed by the administration.

What are the successes and failures of this year’s SSMU? What would you have done differently?

Despite the polarization of last year’s elections and the subsequent variety of opinions on the exec, they have worked very well together and have not let differences of opinion get in the way of doing a good job. For my own position, Robin Reid-Fraser has done a lot of groundwork that I feel has gone unnoticed, but has been very crucial at sowing seeds for the future. She organized the inaugural Intro to Quebec Week, she had to prepare for and attend the education summit (which, while it was disappointing, required a lot of work and prep), she launched the community ambassadors pilot project in Milton-Parc, and she has started drafting the bylaws so that we can elected delegates to TaCEQ. I don’t think there have been weaknesses necessarily, but these are all initiatives that I would like to build off of so that they can really take off and are institutionalized for years to come. I also will not describe the lease negotiations as a weakness, because however frustrating they are, I do not know the details and it is, of course, important to stand up for McGill undergrads.

How do you foresee Montreal and McGill’s political climate affecting the role of SSMU and SSMU executives in the upcoming year?

As mentioned above, I see the municipal elections as being very important for many things that affect McGill students, namely transportation (bike paths, public transit etc.). A provincial election would also be very crucial should the PQ government fall during the next school year. As for McGill politics, the elephant in the room is the budget cuts. The administration is going to decide (and hopefully consult) where the cuts will fall, and we have to make sure they are held to account and do not cut necessities – i.e. do the least amount of harm.

Get to know you questions:

Favourites…

Pizza topping?

Pineapple

Tyler Hofmeister: VP FOPS

Quick bio?

I’m a 4th year double major in economics and finance at McGill.  I’ve had the opportunity to help organize frosh, as Chief of Staff and Co-Chair (which is one of the two head organizer roles) for MUS Carnival.  As Co-Chair, I oversaw the budget for Carnival, which includes a total amount of near $100,000.  Before coming to McGill I was fortunate enough to manage a bar in Calgary, overseeing hundreds of thousands of dollars of sales and inventory.  Since coming to McGill, I’ve been heavily involved in many different aspects of student life such as Model UN delegations and business competitions such as JDC and HM.

What platform are you running on?

I’m running on a platform of increasing information access to SSMU’s finances, by teaming up with student run publications in order to publish financial reports on a regular basis.  I’d also like to increase the amount of information available to clubs and groups applying for SSMU funding.  Clubs are having difficulty forming budgets because they do not know the amounts to expect from SSMU’s funds and whether or not they will receive funding.  By publishing a public policy for what SSMU can and cannot fund, we can clear up this grey area.  I’d also like to speed up the funding process as much as possible.  Funding applications for student groups are often not processed until the actual event that they are running has passed.

Another aspect of my platform is making the Student Run Cafe in the SSMU building a reality.  While this project is pending lease negotiations and the current SSMU Space Survey to see if this is a project that students are behind, I’ve spoken with Jean-Paul Briggs about how far the project is currently along and we agree that renovations should be able to start at the beginning of next summer.

My platform includes the creation of a Supplier Database.  This would compile information about all of the different suppliers student run initiatives use for their various needs.  Things like apparel, stage set up, and transportation methods would be included in the database.  This database could be an incredible student tool to quickly compare different suppliers in terms of cost, social responsibility, and how easy it is to work with each particular supplier.  This could be used to not only compare among different suppliers, but also track the changes in these variables in a single supplier over time and be used as leverage when discussing price.  Lastly, consolidating all of this information could reveal new information about where students consistently buy from for their events. If a single supplier is used often, SSMU could negotiate lower prices due to the massive amount of business that we are bringing this supplier.

These are the highlights to my platform although you are welcome to visit my website at votehoff.com to see more.

Why are you running? Why is student government important?

When planning MUS Carnival and Frosh, I got a first hand look at the positive benefit someone in that kind of role can accomplish.  I saw that my actions mattered, and could help make things better for a large group of people in a way that mattered to them.  The reason I’m running or SSMU VP Finance and Operations is I see the role as a way for me to create a positive benefit for an even larger group of people in an even larger way. I believe that the skills I’ve accumulated through my studies and my extra-curricular involvement are highly relevant to VP Finance and Operations and will help me further serve the McGill community.

What are the successes and failures of this year’s SSMU? What would you have done differently?

The biggest issue with incoming SSMU executives has always been availability.  It seems that once campaigns are over, the doors close.  This is why I’m advocating an open door policy.  I’m extremely approachable and as the position is a representative of the Student Body, I believe this is an important aspect of being a SSMU Executive that doesn’t receive the attention it deserves.

That being said, the successes of this year’s SSMU have been numerous.  Jean-Paul Briggs has completely updated the club auditing system.  Previously it was just done once a year.  The down side of this is: if past club executives were irresponsible with their budgeting and spending habits, the incoming executive would have virtually no chance to prove to SSMU that they were worthy of funding due to their poor audit scores that would last for the entire year.  Jean-Paul Briggs increased the number of audits done a year so that each group of incoming clubs executives could be held accountable for their own actions and not necessarily those of the previous executives.  I hope to continue the exemplary standard that he has set.

How do you foresee Montreal and McGill’s political climate affecting the role of SSMU and SSMU executives in the upcoming year?

The political climate of Montreal and McGill are going to be changing what is asked for of SSMU executives.  In a state of polarized viewpoints, SSMU executives will have to work hard to ensure that they represent the viewpoints of McGill students and not necessarily their own.

With regards to SSMU’s finances; since the funding of SSMU is done primarily through student fees I believe the financial impact of the budget cuts to SSMU can be minimized.  The current election also includes votes on whether or not to create certain new fees, such as the Equity Fund, and the same decision with renewing certain fees.  Providing SSMU’s fees can be renewed, SSMU will continue to thrive.

Get to know you questions:

Favorites…

Trilogy?

Lord of the Rings.

Pizza Topping?

BBQ Sauce.

Guilty Pleasure?

MUS Carnival

Study Area?

Big fan of Birks reading room.  Super quiet, no shoes, and the librarian runs it with an iron fist.

Rom Com?

Really liked Silver Linings Playbook but that’s probably just because it’s the most recent one I’ve seen.

Thomas Kim: VP FOPS 

Quick bio?

Hi, I’m Thomas Kim an Economics and History student. I’ve been living in Montreal for about four years, and have enjoyed exploring various activities the city offers, while also actively participating in campus related events. I am an avid tennis player, and enjoy a good film noir (or anything by Wes Anderson).

What platform are you running on?

My platform can be found on my website: vote.thomaskim.ca

Essentially, I want to increase student involvement and initiatives on campus by improving the communication within the Finance and Operations portfolio. I will make myself available to clubs and services when and if they have concerns over their club audits or funding process. I want to transform this portfolio and make it more engaging, doing so will ensure both the short and long-term financial sustainability of SSMU. I plan on executing a communications plan to streamline inefficiencies in regards to the audit process for clubs and services, while raising awareness of SSMU funding. I bring with me experience from the private and non-profit sectors that I will use to ensure SSMU maintains profitable operations with respect to Gerts and MiniCourses, while working on initiating a long term SSMU-Alumni Relations project.

Why are you running? Why is student government important?

I am running because I believe that SSMU plays such an important role in creating a sense of community for the student body, and I want to make the Finance and Operations portfolio more relevant to the student body. I plan to increase outreach initiatives so that a greater number of students are aware of SSMU funding that is available for their respective projects.

What are the successes and failures of this year’s SSMU? What would you have done differently?

This year’s executive team did a fantastic job maintaining SSMU’s standard of service, while undergoing an arduous lease negotiation process that is still unresolved after three years. Ultimately, I plan to continue to their work but initiate projects to better engage with the student body within the Shatner building, but also outside as well. I want to use the VP Finance and Operations portfolio to increase student involvement on campus by showing them what services and clubs their money funds, and how they maximize benefits their student union, SSMU, is able to provide!

How do you foresee Montreal and McGill’s political climate affecting the role of SSMU and SSMU executives in the upcoming year?

With respect to the VP Finance & Operations portfolio, I do not see the political climate in either Montreal or McGill affecting the role it has within the executive committee. However, with that in consideration I believe that during time of political tensions it is important for all executives to make themselves available for consultation by the student body so that individuals and groups can present their respective viewpoints and concerns.

Get to know you questions:

Favorites…

Trilogy? 

The Original Star Wars Trilogy

Pizza Topping? 

Italian Sausage

Guilty Pleasure?  

Chicken fingers with sweet potato fries at Gertrude’s Cafe

Study Area? 

McLennan 3rd Floor

Rom Com? 

Manhattan

Last update: March 20

Voting in the SSMU elections is ongoing until Friday March 22nd. Make your voice heard at: https://ssmu.simplyvoting.com/

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