A mere 78 votes decided the winner of the presidency for the 2014-15 Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) executive in results released Friday at Gerts.
Tariq Khan, U3 Engineering, was elected as SSMU president with 29.8 per cent of the vote, beating out runner-up Courtney Ayukawa.
Other members of the 2014-2015 SSMU executive team will include Claire Stewart-Kanigan, Stefan Fong, Kathleen Bradley, Amina Moustaqim-Barrette, and J. Daniel Chaim.
Tariq Khan elected as new president
As SSMU president, Khan said he is determined to build strong connections in the coming months.
“Winning these elections is a very small part of [gaining respect],” he said. “[The important thing is] winning the representation, and winning the heart—I know I have to earn a lot of trust. I need to work with you all and I look forward to that.”
Khan explained that his upcoming goals as SSMU president would include increasing a sense of cohesion among SSMU members.
“The first step is uniting the team and that will be a big challenge,” he said. “The long-term goal will be earning the trust back from students [….] We will advocate for accountability, and I will start off [with] myself.”
SSMU Clubs Representative Billy Liu said he was looking forward to see what next year’s executives, including Khan, would bring forward.
“I’m interested in seeing how sustainability will be incorporated into [Khan’s] portfolio,” Liu said. “For example, what steps he has planned in sustainability, like specific events, forums, etc., or whether he will hold consultations with other campus groups.”
Elections SSMU issued a public censure on Khan the morning of the last day of voting, which stated that Khan had disregarded the bylaws by asking a non-campaign committee member to send unsolicited text messages to the public.
Khan denied the accusation.
“I was not informed before the censure happened,” Khan said. “I think I should have been consulted and given a chance to represent myself [….] I consulted my campaign manager and he assured me that something from our campaign team did not happen [.…] We will be investigating the entire thing.”
Elections SSMU Chief Electoral Officer Ben Fung said a censure would not affect a candidate after they have won unless there is definitive evidence that the elections were skewed in their favour.
In the race for vice-president clubs and services, incumbent Stefan Fong received 56.1 per cent of the vote, while his opponent Sandhya Sabapathy received 43.9 per cent. Amina Moustaqim-Barrette defeated opponent Enbal Singer for the position of vice-president external with 60.2 per cent of the votes.
Three uncontested candidates were also elected—Claire Stewart-Kanigan as vice-president university affairs, Kathleen Bradley as vice-president finances and operations, and J. Daniel Chaim as vice-president internal.
Increase in voter turnout
According to Fung, voter turnout this elections period was impressive in comparison with last year—29.1 per cent in 2013 versus 31.4 per cent this year.
“That’s almost 500 more people,” he said. “Our job as Elections SSMU is to make sure that it’s a fair and equal election, and [to] get as many people to vote as possible [.…] I think we did our best to ensure that both of those things happened.”
Fung also described Elections SSMU’s goals to improve future elections.
“We’re looking into expanding the number of events that are going to happen,” he said. “We’re also going to try to rearrange the voting period and polling period in a way that gives the candidates more time to campaign before the polling period starts.”
Students voted in favour of all referendum questions except for the implementation of the University Centre Building Fee.
Questions that passed included those regarding the SSMU First-Year Council Fee, the Organic Campus Fee, disaffiliation from TaCEQ, the Legal Information Clinic at McGill Fee, the Athletics and Recreation Facilities Improvement Fee, the SSMU Access Bursary Fund, the SSMU Ambassador Fund, the SSMU Campus Life Fund, and the SSMU Library Improvement Fund.