SSMU Candidate Interviews

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JOSHUA ABAKI

JOSHUA ABAKI

What has Rebecca Dooley done right this year, and what would you do differently?

One of the things she has done well is getting student opinion – for example, “The McGill We Want.” I think that’s a very important task force, because it shows the McGill administration that we are actually going out there and getting the student mandate. One thing I would like to improve on next year are the committees. I’d like to get a wider section of students sitting on [them].

What is your stance on McGill’s Research Policy?

Section 7.24 definitely needs clarification. It just says “in good faith,” so it’s not very specific and it needs to be clarified. It needs to state that if there is research that’s being conducted that is going to be particularly harmful, then McGill’s not going to support that specific research. Then there are Clauses 10 and 11, which we removed. I think these need to be put back, because these are things that groups like Demilitarize McGill worked very hard to have inserted into the Research Policy. I think it’s a step backward for McGill to remove these particular clauses from the policy.

What makes you the best candidate for the position?

I’ve had a wide variety of experiences, not only in Canada but also in Kenya. In Kenya, I was the equivalent of student union president of my high school. However I had to mandate the day-to-day activities of that particular high school since there was actually no adults. Since coming to McGill I’ve been hugely involved in student life here. So when it comes to tuition that’s something I really understand and I think I’d be in a good position to convince the McGill administration not to increase tuition.

What is your number-one priority for next year?

I want to get McGill to not just say in words that we are a student-centred university, because I think the reality proves otherwise. If the administration wants to claim that we are a student-centred university then that must be reflected in their policies.

David Lipsitz

DAVID LIPSITZ

In your opinion, what has VP University Affairs Rebecca Dooley done well this year?

She’s dealt with the larger issues on campus well. As you’re aware, for example, the research policy is something that’s been going back and forth for quite a while. Although students didn’t get exactly what they wanted, I think that the effort was there and sometimes there’s just no budging the administration.

What are your views on the research policy?

One of the main goals of various student groups on campus … was to restrict military research. The students have only won one concession from the university administration when it comes to this policy: the removal of the anonymity clause, which means that anonymous donations can no longer be made to researchers. Overall, the policy, as it stands now, is a step backward.

Are you in favour of military-funded research, or are you against it?

I’m somewhere in the middle. Military research has a place in society. That’s not to say that I’m militaristic. I certainly don’t support many of the current campaigns that are going on around the world today. At the same time, though, it is important that university students know where their money is going.

What differentiates you from the other candidates?

I’m the most experienced candidate. I’ve worked with SSMU closely – I’m the chairman of the External Affairs Committee. I’ve made reports to SSMU, discussed the issues that concern SSMU’s relationship with the Quebec government and with other student groups in Quebec. I’m also a senator. I know how the Senate caucus works. I’ve also worked with [the Arts Undergraduate Society] in the past. Basically, I’ve got all the bases covered. I’m a diplomatic person. Level-headedness is an important quality in this job.

If elected, what would be your number-one priority for next year?

My campaign has three pillars. In the tuition category, I’d work towards securing a commitment from the university not to implement a self-funded tuition model for undergraduate education. The second pillar is sustainability, particularly food sustainability on campus. The administration is working towards implementing composting facilities for their residence cafeterias. I want to expand this. The third pillar is improving the undergraduate experience. I’ve focussed on exchange programs, transfer credits, independent classes. There’s a lot of bureaucracy [in these areas]. It would be a shame not to simplify these processes.