(L-A Benoit / The McGill Tribune)

SSMU Election 2017: VP External

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The Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Vice-President (VP) External represents the society’s interests to local and provincial governments, other student associations, and groups, including McGill labour unions. The VP External is also in charge of SSMU’s political campaigns and mobilization efforts.

After Mazin Gasim withdrew from the race after the press conference on March 6 and Noah Century withdrew on March 12 after being censured by Elections SSMU, the remaining candidate for the position is Connor Spencer. At the press conference and the debate on March 9, the candidate was able to elaborate on her platforms.

During the press conference, Spencer said that McGill should join the Association for the Voice of Education in Quebec (AVEQ) and collaborate with other universities in order to fight provincial and federal austerity measures. In the Winter 2016 Referendum, SSMU members voted against joining AVEQ. SSMU has continued to participate in AVEQ as a non-voting member with observer status.

Spencer also plans to overhaul the VP External website in order to promote the outreach of the office.

“The website for the VP External right now is off the [SSMU] page a little bit,” Spencer said. “[…] It would be great if we had a campaigns tab […] with a regularly updated [page] that goes into what has happened this week at the provincial level that specifically would affect McGill students as members of the Montreal community.”

In her opening statement at the SSMU Executive Candidates’ Debate, Spencer stressed integration with the larger Montreal community and student movements, improving accessibility for students, and the implementation of a gendered and sexualized violence policy for SSMU.

The moderator and audience questioned McGill’s role in the Montreal community and Quebec student movements, the candidate's experience and qualifications for the role, and the candidate's specific plans for the indigenous affairs aspect of the VP External portfolio.

“It’s something that I hope to really, really work towards including,” Spencer said. “At the same time, [I] recognize that I don’t come from those communities and it’s important that I don’t have a stance on what that should be because it’s about opening a dialogue with those communities about what they want to see and how we can make that happen.”

Several members of the audience expressed their approval of Spencer’s answer by snapping.

In her closing statement, Spencer emphasized that she wanted to continue her work in student activism and affecting change at McGill.