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SSMU executive reviews 2014-2015

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President

Courtney Ayukawa

 

 

Ayukawa has faced significant challenges this year, and overall, she has handled them efficiently. Earlier this year, long-time SSMU General Manager Pauline Gervais resigned, taking with her 10 years of experience and knowledge. Ayukawa was also the respondent in two Judicial Board (J-Board) cases this year. Although the cases were resolved under mediation, they placed significant strain on the presidential portfolio, particularly because they demanded Ayukawa’s attention for significant portions of the year, detracting from her primary responsibilities. For example, the J-Board case on the hiring of the Elections SSMU Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) and Deputy Electoral Officer (DEO) interrupted elections proceedings mid-year.

Nevertheless, Ayukawa has overseen significant accomplishments this year, including the increased outreach for SSMU hiring and a variety of sustainability initiatives, such as Zero Waste Week and the composting program. Ayukawa has also remained communicative and transparent with campus media. Furthermore, she planned two General Assemblies (GAs) with success, and although the first was met with criticism for exceeding capacity, this year’s GAs saw unprecedented attendance, and Ayukawa managed to coordinate the logistics for both. However, initiatives to increase student engagement with the GAs such as the motion writing workshop were not well-attended, and considerations must continue to be made on how to best engage and inform students on GA proceedings.

VP Internal

J. Daniel Chaim

 

 

Chaim has made many notable strides for the VP Internal position this year, including his recent work with Red & White Week, which has seen an increased amount of outreach and visibility compared to previous years. Chaim has also succeeded in both event and financial management for this year’s frosh, which in past years has seen deficits of over $20,000 and negative publicity in the community at large. This year’s frosh received improved publicity and tallied $3,600 in deficit—a noticeable improvement—and is reflective of a more effectively-planned event.

Chaim also leads the Students’ Society Programming Network (SSPN) committee, which has been able to host a variety of events, such as the January incoming students orientation and the arcade night, that have also seen success, and the diversification of the portfolio is promising and should continue to expand.

With Chaim’s introduction of the internal coordinator position, the SSPN portfolio should continue to expand and hopefully succeed. However, there have been irregularities in Chaim’s communication, namely the listservs, which have at times been neglected during certain weeks. Chaim has also discussed the possibility of a publications fee to help fund Old McGill, the yearbook, which has been a source of deficit for many years. However, potential funding options have not yet been solidified, and if sales continue to remain low, the yearbook will likely run a deficit again this year.

VP University Affairs

Claire Stewart-Kanigan

 

 

Stewart-Kanigan has been a strong and effective student leader during her tenure as VP University Affairs, as evidenced by her adamant advocacy on Senate and her work with the administration. This persistence is essential for SSMU executives, who often run into administrative and bureaucratic barriers at multiple levels. Stewart-Kanigan has successfully prioritized student needs at Senate all year, and consistently challenged and questioned the administration on its actions.

She has been proactive in her efforts with the Sexual Assault Policy Working Group, and the progress that has been made in demanding action from McGill to implement a rights-based framework has been significant. She also worked on mental health initiatives such as the Mental Health Awareness Week, and has overseen significant growth for the portfolio, particularly with the Mental Health Five-Year Plan. Stewart-Kanigan has also worked closely with the equity committee all year in reviewing and updating the equity policy, as well as creating a variety of resources and reports for SSMU.

Stewart-Kanigan frequently reached out to campus media and SSMU constituents online and through forums. This has been crucial in communicating her progress in her position throughout the year, and is the type of effective representation that students need from their executives. Stewart-Kanigan was able to successfully juggle a wide variety of important projects this year, and has overseen significant progress for all of them.

VP Finance and Operations

Kathleen Bradley

 

 

This year, Bradley has effectively managed the SSMU budget, her primary responsibility. She oversaw the passing of the SSMU Building Fee, and continued the improvement of sales both at Gerts and The Nest.
Gerts had lost revenue earlier in the year when groups did not pay following their bookings—Bradley has since addressed this with SSMU’s accounts receivable department. Minicourses have also seen a decline in participation and therefore in revenue this past semester, which may be something that next year’s VP Finance will need to address.

Bradley was also proactive in her communication of the budget outside Council—meeting with individual campus publications, she was able to explain and clarify aspects of the budget to make it more accessible than it has been in previous years. Further efforts will need to be made in future years to continue informing students on where their fees are going, and how that money is being spent.

Bradley also went beyond the VP Finance’s typical responsibilities by overseeing the McGill Food Coalition Charter, which was formed in December 2014 to garner support for student-run food services on campus.
Ultimately, the VP Finance’s main responsibilities are to oversee and manage the budget so that it breaks even, which was challenging this year due to The Nest’s extensive startup costs and the uncertainty at the beginning of the year regarding the building fee.

In ensuring that the budget will be set to break even, Bradley has been successful in her position this year.

VP External

Amina Moustaqim-Barrette

 

 

Moustaqim-Barrette has worked on a variety of projects within the VP External portfolio this year, including climate justice initiatives through Etudiants Contre les Oleoducs (ECO), a coalition that rallies against the proposed pipeline projects in Quebec, and anti-austerity events, such as the anti-austerity activity night that was hosted earlier this semester. She also increased the visibility of the portfolio online, which has recently received more attention but has not yet been able to effectively reach the majority of the student body, as it is still relatively new.

Since SSMU’s disaffiliation with Table de concertation étudiante du Québec (TaCEQ) last year, Moustaqim-Barrette has been attending congresses with the Fédération Etudiante Universitaire du Québec (FEUQ), a Quebec student federation, and meeting with other student unions at roundtables to discuss the future of SSMU’s representation at the provincial level. Although Moustaqim-Barrette has cited the importance of student consultation on what types of issues should be addressed and whether joining a federation should be a priority for SSMU, there is still uncertainty surrounding these matters, and SSMU remains unaffiliated with other student unions in Quebec.

Although Moustaqim-Barrette recently conducted an External Affairs Survey that sought to collect student opinions on the portfolio, this could have been well-suited much earlier in her term in order to best represent them in her capacity as the VP External throughout the year while consistently communicating these efforts back to the student body.

VP Clubs & Services

Stefan Fong

 

 

As a second-year executive, Fong has had the advantage of being able to plan and oversee more long-term projects that have been key in achieving more structure and efficiency for the SSMU clubs. He and the Interest Group Coordinator (IGC) Kimber Bialik worked diligently to update all club constitutions, ensure that all clubs attend an orientation workshop on administration and finances, and carry out two successful Activity Nights. Fong also works directly with club bylaw revisions, which is another back-end project that benefitted from his knowledge of the portfolio as a whole.

The mandatory club workshops helped facilitate communication in order to inform club executives on club funding and audits. The change in club funding structure, which now provides clubs with an initial 40 per cent of its funding and the remaining 60 per cent only after it has turned in its receipts, was a direct way to demand more accountability from clubs. However, there was still a significant amount of confusion amongst many clubs regarding the changes that had been made to the funding schedule and allotment process. Fong has coordinated audit workshops for clubs, which has been helpful, but the communication aspect of the portfolio needs to continue to expand.

Fong has also shown a great deal of initiative not only through the clubs survey, but also the student experience survey, which he has been managing during this semester. The survey was well-publicized and is extensive in its questions, and could serve as a valuable resource for future executive teams if they use it as a metric for how to best represent and serve the student body.

Fong’s work with the ClubHub project has grown slowly over the past two years, and although he has managed both the research and consultation aspects of the project, it has yet to move on to the development or implementation phase. Next year’s VP Clubs and Services will have to address this project and how it would compare to myInvolvement, which McGill has purchased for use.

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