SSMU executive mid-term reviews

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Kareem Ibrahim—SSMU President

 

Due to the resignation both the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) general manager (GM) and the Daycare director, President Kareem Ibrahim was forced to assume many of both positions’ responsibilities. In acting as a caretaker, he has performed impressively in ensuring that SSMU as a whole has continued to function and provide services to students; however, as a result of the resignations, many of Ibrahim’s original plans and ideas have been derailed. Initiatives such as the completion of a human resources equity policy and the establishment of a consultation listserv, which was a campaign promise to better consult students, have fallen by the wayside. Additionally, efforts to increase outreach and be more visible to students were inadequate in comparison to the primacy they received in his election platform—the Fall General Assembly (GA) failed to reach quorum.

Although he wasn’t visible externally, he was constantly present within SSMU—much of his portfolio includes acting as a support member to other executives or other permanent and part-time staff. He was responsible for student-staff orientation in September, a task normally under the portfolio of the GM, and has also overhauled many internal regulations of the president’s portfolio while also improving the operations of Council.

With the introduction of a new Daycare director, GM, and a vice-president (VP) Internal this semester, a period of relative calm has presented itself in an otherwise tumultuous tenure. Moving forward, Ibrahim will need to return to the tenets of his platform that have been neglected in order to ensure that the somewhat frayed relationship that students have with SSMU is repaired and strengthened.

 

 

 

 

Emily Boytinck—VP External Affairs

 

Since the dissolution of the Fédération Étudiante Universitaire du Québec (FÉUQ), Vice-President (VP) External Affairs Emily Boytinck has actively participated in the formation of two new student associations: The Union Étudiants du Quebec (UÉQ) and the Association pour la Voix Étudiante au Québec (AVÉQ). She has reached out to faculty associations to present information on both organizations, appropriate consultation given the early stages of both organizations.

Most of Boytinck’s political focus last semester concentrated on the Divest McGill and McGill Against Austerity campaigns. Boytinck was active in event planning for both campaigns as well as meeting with administration. She also coordinated with Elections Canada to launch the vote campaign during the federal election.

Boytinck additionally completed extensive work on community affairs, including delivering letters to every house in the Milton Parc neighbourhood during Frosh. Boytinck has put forward new initiatives to improve community relations, including a garbage survey to lobby for new trash cans.

With no VP Internal, Boytinck was delegated the planning of 4Floors, which failed to sell out. Though she was handed the event on short notice, she and the committee should have concentrated more on advertisement of the event, and less on organizing ticket-sales online, which will hopefully be taken into consideration next year.

A consistent problem throughout the semester was low attendance at the events Boytinck organized. This problem may have been exacerbated by a lack of effort to reach out to groups on campus that vocally opposed these causes. In the coming semester, we would like to see more consultation with such groups from Boytinck, which will hopefully increase interest in her educational events.

 

 

 

 

 

Zacheriah Houston—VP Finance and Operations

 

The absence of a GM has greatly affected the position of VP Finance and Operations, with tasks such as the budget revision being completed weeks later than has been typical in the past. However, it is a testament to Zacheriah Houston’s ability that despite this, he has been able to implement significant changes within SSMU. Houston worked to create an online form and streamlining system for club audits, simplifying the process and making it much more easily understood and accessible for SSMU clubs. Additionally, Houston has laid the groundwork for a base-fee increase referendum question, which will be voted on later this month, and has worked towards creating a purchasing database of ethical suppliers for SSMU.

The Student Run Cafe (SRC) is one area that Houston will need to pay more attention to in the upcoming semester. The SRC opened at the beginning of this academic year on the second floor of SSMU, in the space across from The Nest—another student-run initiative. While the idea of renting space to student-run cafés as opposed to commercial tenants is a nice one, neither the SRC nor The Nest, which has been operational for over two years, have yet to break even, let alone turn a profit. The fact is that many students are unaware that the SRC and The Nest even exist, therefore focus needs to shift to outreach, advertising, and communication with all students if the SRC hopes to be a profitable venture for SSMU.

 

 

 

 

 

Chloe Rourke—VP University Affairs

 

Compared to the roles of the other executives, the role of the VP University Affairs has been the least affected by the vacancies at SSMU. Rourke has continued to working to implement initiatives geared at improving students’ mental health and well-being, including planning the second Mental Health and Awareness Week at McGill, as well as instating Happy Lights, a program which allows students to rent lamps used to treat seasonal affective disorder from SSMU.

Rourke has also worked on broader academic initiatives, such as liaising with McGill administration and faculty regarding a proposed Fall Reading Week. Along with the VP Finance and Operations, Rourke has begun discussing SSMU’s Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with McGill.

Rourke has continued her efforts to bring a new sexual assault policy to the McGill Senate. While drafts of the new policy existed before her term in office, it is commendable that Rourke is working on supplementary initiatives, such as a protocol outlining support measures for persons who have experienced sexual assault. Creating university-wide policies is a bureaucratic process, and while Rourke’s efforts are admirable, the consequences of the bureaucratic gridlock mean that initiatives that were started before Rourke’s term, and that Rourke herself worked on, may not be enacted until after her term.

 

 

 

 

 

Kimber Bialik—VP Clubs and Services

 

Kimber Bialik’s focus on institutional reorganization in areas of her portfolio over the past semester has brought an increased efficiency to the way both SSMU Clubs and Services are run. Additionally, her ongoing efforts to increase general promotion of both clubs and services, and improving general resources for each, have brought about visible changes.

Moving Fall Activities Night outdoors to reduce the wait time in line, allowing clubs to sell event tickets at the front desk of SSMU, and ramping up social media presence were small initiatives that allowed for students to have more access to information about clubs and involvement.

Bialik additionally completed an overhaul of club space by getting rid of club offices on the fourth floor of the SSMU Building, creating common areas, bookable rooms for meetings, and installing lockers.

Bialik has not only been working to maintain the four committees under her purview—Services Review Committee, Club Committee, Space Committee, Building Committee—but she has also facilitated the creation of a new club consultative committee. The Building Committee, responsible for allocating funds to improve the SSMU Building, received little to no student consultation in the past, because it is comprised primarily of permanent staff members; this past semester, Bialik froze part of these funds and allowed students to come forward with proposals on how to spend $20,000, ultimately resulting in the purchase of new carpet and furniture for the SSMU Student Lounge.

Her biggest undertaking was completion of SSMU’s service reviews, a behind-the-scenes, administrative effort. Although service reviews are supposed to be completed each year, they have been neglected since 2011, with some services having no record of ever being reviewed. On average, past SSMU Clubs and Services executives have completed five service reviews per semester; Bialik ensured that all 20 were reviewed and brought up-to-date last semester alone.