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(L-A Benoit / The McGill Tribune)

SSMU Election 2017: VP Student Life

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The Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Vice-President (VP) Student Life manages relations between SSMU and its clubs, services, and independent student groups. In pursuit of this, the position is tasked with helping student groups coordinate events, assisting student groups with resources, managing the Society’s mental health initiatives, and collaborating with university staff from Student Services.

Jemark Earle is the only candidate for VP Student Life. His platform features a significant focus on projects that complement student mental health services, including training all faculty student executives in Mental Health First Aid and creating a Mental Health minor.

During the press conference on March 6, Earle described the specifics of his plan to address mental health on campus.

“Right now we have the Career Support Centre […] which deals extensively in helping destigmatize mental health and allowing students to speak when speaking to a professional is too intimidating,” Earle said. “[Training student executives in mental health would] create a space where [executives] would be […] more approachable, more empathetic to situations, and create a space to talk.”

At the debate on March 9, Earle spoke more on his emphasis on mental health.

“My platform deals extensively with mental health and this is because I’ve seen how detrimental this can be on campus,” Earle said. “What’s missing from the equation is student input and as your VP Student Living I plan on dealing with the administration because I don’t believe they’re being transparent in how they deal with students.”

Incumbent VP Student Life Elaine Patterson asked Earle about conflict mediation, with Earle explaining his approach.

“What I believe helps or is beneficial in dealing with student conflicts is sitting with both parties and acting as mediator between them, ask them to say what the conflict is […], working towards asking them what they want from the other party, and what the other wants from them,” Earle said.

Patterson also inquired into how Earle will balance his time between supporting his personal projects, mental health, and over 150 student groups on campus—Patterson believes that the latter is the largest part of the portfolio. Earle clarified his priorities.

“In the first few months I know a lot of the job is going to be dealing with clubs and services, we have activities night so I’ll have to be responding to a lot of emails and talking to a lot of clubs and services representatives,” Earle said. “So I think that dealing with the mental health and the clubs and services […is] what I will prioritize over my personal projects.”

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