Eight candidates vie for two spots in SSMU C&S Rep election

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Two Students’ Society clubs and services representatives vacated their positions last semester, necessitating an election, to be held this Wednesday, to fill the positions.

One representative from each full-status club, service, or publication can cast a ballot on Wednesday, though anyone can ask questions or participate in the debate to be held before the vote. The debate and election will take place in Room 302 of the Shatner Building.

Nathan Goldstein and Lorna Sampson were the two students who gave up their positions, paving the way for this Wednesday’s election. Sampson resigned for personal reasons, and Goldstein was forced out due to poor attendance at Council meetings.

“If you fail to show up for two Council meetings without telling us ahead of time, and then do not meet with the SSMU president to explain why you have been absent then you lose your seat,” said Vice-President Clubs and Services Sarah Olle.

Natalie Fohl – president of pro-life club Choose Life, whose club status was suspended by SSMU Council in November – is running, alongside seven other candidates. Choose Life’s controversial event, Echoes of the Holocaust, held last October, drew considerable public outcry, and led to the suspension of the club’s status.

Olle initially expressed concern that Fohl couldn’t run in the election, because Choose Life’s club status is currently suspended. Only members of full-status clubs, services, or publications were eligible to participate in the election.

“However, her participation in other clubs [Conservative McGill and the Newman Students’ Society] qualified her,” said Olle.

Council’s motion to suspend choose Life’s club status, which passed narrowly, mandated Choose Life and the Student Equity Committee to draft a set of rules, outlining what the club can do within the parameters of the SSMU constitution, bylaws, and policies.

Members of Choose Life, the Student Equity Committee, and VP University Affairs Rebecca Dooley are meeting to discuss the rules this Friday.

“We had a preliminary meeting in December with the two equity officers,” Fohl said. “Both Choose Life and the equity committee are going to bring proposed solutions to the table [on Friday].”

If elected, Fohl claimed that she would “ensure that clubs at McGill are treated fairly.” In her pensketch, Fohl maintained that her “experience with a variety of clubs” would help her “effectively represent the interests of SSMU’s clubs and services” on campus.

Olle acknowledged that, if Fohl is elected and Choose Life’s club status is debated, again, this semester, it would be “a unique and rare situation that we really haven’t dealt with before – at all.”

“It’s the combination of so many unique circumstances, so we’d really have to figure out what would be the just thing to do. But we haven’t come to any conclusions yet,” she said.

Seven other students are running in the election: Bilal Manji, Sarah Rivin, Cathal Rooney-Cespedes. D’Andre Wilson, Adam Wheeler, Keane Yarish, and Timothy Abdulla.

Wheeler is a former Queer McGill political action coordinator – he resigned his position last semester. Olle described him as a competent administrator, adding that “he’s dealt with SSMU extensively.”

Rooney-Cespedes, U2 arts, is a “large contributor” to the International Relations Students’ Association of McGill. His pensketch outlines a plan to increase communication between Council and clubs and services.

“I would not only make an effort to implement ideas of my own, but also make sure that the voices of all clubs and services are being considered,” Rooney-Cespedes said, according to his pensketch.

Wilson, a U3 chemical engineering student, was an executive of the Caribbean Students’ Society and the National Society of Black Engineers, gaining an “in depth” understanding of managing clubs. As a representative to Council, she “would ensure that all clubs continue to get access to the resources they need to keep this campus lively.”

Olle acknowledged that, in the past, SSMU has had a number of acclaimed, or open, political positions. But with eight candidates running in a mid-year election, she was “excited that so many people are ready to jump into Council.”