On March 16, the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) elected Muna Tojiboeva as SSMU President with 53.1 per cent of the vote. 21.8 per cent of the student body participated in the election compared to the 17.5 per cent turnout during the last year’s SSMU election.
Vice-President (VP) Operations Anuradha Mallik, VP Internal Maya Koparkar, VP Finance Arisha Khan, VP External Connor Spencer, VP University Affairs Isabelle Oke, and VP Student Life Jemark Earle will join Tojiboeva on the executive team.
“It feels a bit too unreal,” Tojiboeva said. “I’m super happy obviously. I’m a bit surprised [and] I’m super excited for the upcoming year.”
Looking forward to next year, Tojiboeva will prioritize mental health, implementing a sexual assault policy, and reforming the Judicial Board.
“I want to implement the sexual assault policy,” Tojiboeva said. “It’s one of the more urgent manners. I’d [also] like to see the budget and talk to [McGill Counselling and Mental Health Services] to see what can be done. I was an outsider to SSMU so I’m sure there will be things that I’m not aware of […] but definitely my priorities are mental health, the sexual assault policy, and the Judicial Board.”
Presidential candidate Helen Ogundeji, who received 38.6 per cent of the votes, shared her thoughts on the election results.
“I think the election outcome reflected what the majority of the students who voted wanted but not the desires of all students (since [presidential candidate] Lukas [Shannon] and I both garnered votes),” Ogundeji wrote to The McGill Tribune. “So for next year I’m going to continue to work on implementing my projects […] and hope that it all works out well.”
All three of the presidential candidates’ platforms addressed recent events at SSMU–including allegations of sexual assault raised against two now-resigned executives–and restoring students’ faith in student government.
“I’m looking forward to [rebuilding trust]. I think it can be done and I can’t wait to start,” Tojiboeva said. “I’ll talk to all the [incoming executives] and try to see what their vision is and how we can work together. Obviously there’s been a lot of disconnect between SSMU and students. I would need to talk to the other people in order to see what they want to do [….] Hopefully it’ll be a better year for SSMU.”
Unlike this year’s SSMU executive board, which had only one female member, women will fill six of the seven positions in the 2017-2018 academic year. The previous board also lacked diversity, but will now have executives from various ethnic backgrounds.
“I think it’s going to be a very interesting [executive] this year because it’s mostly women and people of colour,” Koparkar said. “As a woman and person of colour, I’m really excited to represent students’ different perspectives and I think they will welcome the difference from this year.”
Spencer said that she will likely begin to assist with the responsibilities of the VP External, a position that is currently empty, before the official turnover in May.
“I think that it’s important that I can use my position to represent their interests to make sure real changes happen, especially around sexualized violence,” Spencer said.
The executive team will officially transition into their new positions with help from current SSMU executives.
“This is a portfolio I put my life into so I’m grateful for [being elected],” Koparkar said. “I really just want to get settled. [Daniel Lawrie is] going to be transitioning me until my contract gets started. I’ve been working with [Lawrie] already so [the job is] something I’m used to.”
Earle expressed his enthusiasm to learn about his position with the help of VP Student Life Elaine Patterson.
“[Being elected] feels great, to be completely honest,” Earle said. “It was my dream to be a SSMU executive [….] Over the summer, I’m looking forward to shadowing Elaine and really seeing what the job has to offer and to really start to implement ideas from my platform.”
VP Operations Anuradha Mallik: Yes, 89.8 per cent.
VP Finance Arisha Khan: Yes, 92.7 per cent
VP Student Life Jemark Earle: Yes, 90.1 per cent
VP External Connor Spencer: Yes, 84.1 per cent
VP Internal Maya Koparkar: Yes, 90.7 per cent
VP University Affairs Isabelle Oke: 58.4 per cent
President Muna Tojiboeva: 53.1 per cent