SSMU VP Internal byelection profiles

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These transcripts were lightly edited for grammar, punctuation and clarity. All candidates were asked the same questions. The Tribune has also made an endorsement for the Students' Society of McGill University (SSMU) Vice-President (VP) Internal byelection.


Omar El-Sharawy

How do you plan on overseeing the different aspects of your portfolio?

Frosh

As the only candidate who has been a Frosh coordinator, I believe I have the most experience to ensure a fun, safe inclusive Frosh. Although I will not directly oversee the planning of the 2016 Frosh, I will ensure to not only fully train and prepare the incoming VP Internal but support and share my experience.

Things I believe SSMU can improve on compared to last year is more transparent inter-faculty communication and collaboration. This was an issue visible to the Frosh coordinator community especially during beach day, where confusion lead to a small fraction of the students only attending beach day for less than an hour due to poor planning and lack of communication. In addition, I would ensure that venue booking is confirmed much earlier than SSMU had done last summer. I believe SSMU at times can be stubborn and refuse the help of other faculties, when a faculty like the [Management Undergraduate Society] (MUS)’ experience and support with multiple concerts under their portfolio could be very beneficial. I would also maintain the great communication between SSMU and the campus life and engagement team which was demonstrated by former VP Internals [Lola] Baraldi and [J. Daniel] Chaim.

Francophone affairs

As a student organization in one of the most bilingual cities, the French element of Quebec and our local students will not be neglected. Although I am not fluent in French, I plan to further support the Francophone commissioners to certify and maintain the French emergence into our community and culture. Supporting the francophone community could range from further promotion of the Franc-Jeu club, McGill’s only French-speaking theatre club, promotion of French-speaking mini courses and maintaining a French translation of the listservs.

Old McGill Yearbook:

SSMU Council has already taken the right steps to slowly tackling the issue surrounding the constant deficits and sustainability of the yearbook. In the most recent voting session, the two-part plebiscite question regarding the Old McGill Yearbook passed, but only with a slight majority for question 1 (56.9 per cent), while question 2 was more favourable with 76.6 per cent approval. Although this is a step in the right direction to tackle the yearbook dilemma, which causes a [large annual deficit], I believe there could be other options to present to the student body.

Considering that voter turnout was 16.7 per cent [for the referendum] and that the first part of the question did not receive overwhelming support, different sustainable methods should be presented to the student body. SSMU could make the yearbook accessible online and can distribute it through listservs, social media, and the SSMU website (and it could be further promoted through faculty associations). This would eliminate printing costs, and would thus be more sustainable and more accessible to students. This is just one solution, however if after further consultation, the student body wants to maintain the yearbook’s hard-copy production, I will be more than happy to act upon students’ wishes.

Communications:

The VP Internal is responsible for publicizing, maintaining, and editing the listserv to insure it remains engaging and appealing to the students. In the recent past, listservs have often been the topic of controversy—not only because of their content, but also because of their diminishing outreach. Sadly, listservs are no longer appealing to students, as they are long, tedious, and verbose. That is something I plan to change. Along with [distributing the listserv through] the traditional platform of email [and] through a short YouTube video created on a biweekly basis and/or through easily accessible Snapchat stories. I plan to offer students more platforms [to easily access] the information [in a] concise way.

Equity:

During my three years [at] McGill, I have sat as VP External of [the Inter-residence Council] (IRC), [the Science Undergraduate Society] (SUS) representative to SSMU, and was hired as a Frosh coordinator. In each position, I was expected to do at least 6 hours of equity training. Along with my own participation in workshops facilitated by Healthy McGill, such as the alcohol consumption and sexual assault workshop. Over the years I have attended over 40 hours of equity training and [I will be sure] to implement my training while planning and executing events. Therefore, I believe I can ensure [I] create events, enhance communications and fulfill my mandate while remaining respectful to the diverse McGill community.

How do you plan on coming in halfway through the term and adjusting, knowing that you have four months left?

I believe for any candidate running, there will be a large learning curve as they adapt to the responsibilities as VP Internal. However, I believe sitting on SSMU [Council] for two years will make my  learning curve less steep. I was lucky to observe and learn firsthand from former VP Internals Chaim and [Brian] Farnan and therefore improve from their mistakes while continuing their great work. Since 4Floors and Frosh [are] over, this will allow me to focus on improving other aspects of my portfolio while becoming more of a facilitator and a support tool for Students’ Society Programming Network (SSPN) to continue their great work to plan future events. Although I will have a short time in my position, I will try and build a strong foundation of improvements which the student body feels are necessary so the new incoming VP Internal of 2016 can build upon my work

Is there anything you’d like us to know about you as a candidate and your platform?

I believe that any executive team of a student council [at] McGill has an extremely difficult job trying to please such a diverse student body. I have reached out to multiple people in student leadership positions […] for their views on what we need to improve not only relevant to my portfolio but to SSMU as a whole. I believe my platform speaks to the majority of the students and what they view should change and improve about SSMU

Why did you not run in the last election?

After sitting on SSMU Council for two years, multiple councils and committees, and being a Frosh coordinator all summer long, I wanted to take a step back and focus on my academics and adapting to my new field of study (especially after transferring faculties) and pursue my other passions such as music (where I joined Tonal Ecstasy).  However, after being away from student politics and strongly adapting to my new academic workload, I felt I was prepared to return to my true passion, which is attempting to make a positive impact on the McGill community.

Kahli Douglas

How do you plan on overseeing the different aspects of your portfolio?

Frosh

I plan on working closely with faculty associations to ensure the framework is in place for next year's Frosh. I would like to have meetings with the Milton-Parc community and the [police] to get feedback and hear their thoughts. As a Frosh leader the past two years, I've witnessed the improvements, but I also see where changes can still to be made. We're on the right track and learning from the strengths of each association's own frosh can greatly benefit the Frosh experience at McGill for both froshies and the community.

Francophone Affairs

I would like to work closely with the Francophone Commissioner and involve non-francophone groups in the discussions on how we can promote French on campus and [promote] better integration within the Montreal community. I would like to look into planning events in French, such as film screenings and guest speakers, as well as [increase the] promotion of French mini-courses [….] As a francophile that has spent years trying to master the language, I believe immersion is important and despite living in Montreal, McGill could offer more in terms of French programming.

The Old McGill Yearbook

The yearbook is up for review and reform right now, and while an online version of it would certainly be cheaper and sustainable, there is something to say for having a hard copy of a yearbook that is print [….] This is a time when getting student feedback is absolutely necessary on how to proceed as there are currently, […] two main schools of thought: one preferring to go digital and another wanting to see a fee included in tuition to pay for the yearbook in its current form. I would like to gather student feedback and work with students on creating a sustainable option that appeals to the most people possible.

Communications

Communications are key to getting students involved and properly informed. While the listserv does have its downfalls, it is a great way of transmitting updates on current SSMU happenings. I would like to implement more interactive ways of spreading information to and learning about the student body. Roundtable meetings with [student] faculty associations and student groups are a good way of exchanging relevant information between the association and SSMU […] to learn more about what each association and group is currently facing[….] I would like to table regularly on campus and have chats with students to form an open dialogue and potentially some of my office hours could be accessible to different students that wouldn't otherwise come into the office.

Equity

Equity is something we should all be striving for and we should be involving students in these discussions, as we all have different experiences and the intersectionality of those experiences with our self-identity makes different services, even SSMU in general, more accessible to some over others. I want to work with [the Social Equity and Diversity Education office] (SEDE) and the [Office of Students with Disabilities] (OSD) to ensure SSMU is doing all they can in making equitable decisions and programming.

How do you plan on coming in halfway through the term and adjusting, knowing that you have four months left?

am ready to cannonball into the deep end. I plan on immersing myself and dedicating my time to this position.[Although it is] a short term to hold a position, I am giving these four months to SSMU and to the students. I plan on acquainting myself with the people I'll be working with, getting lots of input, and being open to adapting. By working hard, thinking critically, and staying organized, I know I can do a lot in the time that's left.

Is there anything you’d like us to know about you as a candidate and your platform?

Since coming to McGill, I've been very focused on contributing to the community. Working with Walksafe for the past two and a half years has taught me the value of hard work and the power of having a vision. As a Frosh leader the past two years I have formed bonds with fellow students and witnessed the importance of inclusivity and creating safe spaces for students. As a volunteer teaching young students conflict resolution with Peace by Peace, I've seen how creating a culture of respect and understanding truly changes group dynamics. My experiences have shaped who I am and how I approach people and problems. I would like to create an open dialogue on campus where students are encouraged to contribute as I'd like SSMU to represent an amalgamation of all our ideas rather than those of just the person holding the position.

Why did you not run in the last election?

It wasn't until recently that I learned I could afford to take the time away from my studies and fully commit to the position. I didn't want to run if I couldn't dedicate myself to the job. I highly value this position and all of its duties and want to make sure that, if elected, I am giving adequate time to each aspect of the portfolio.

Jason Rutman

How do you plan on overseeing the different aspects of your portfolio?

Frosh

In my opinion, Frosh simply isn’t long or wild enough. If elected, my first order of business, after erecting a 5m [tall] marble statue of myself outside the SSMU Club building, would be to declare independence from McGill and establish Frosh in the place of normal classes. The bonding and lifelong memories created during Frosh are simply too important to pass up on, and I believe that they are far more important than anything you can learn in class.

Francophone Affairs

Francophone affairs are an important part of my platform. I regularly watch French language soap operas, with my favourite being Plus belle la vie. I’ve watched all 11 seasons and I can assure you that those characters have engaged in numerous affairs. There were many cases where a husband cheated on his wife or a boyfriend cheated on his girlfriend, so I’m definitely knowledgeable about francophone affairs. I think my experience watching these programs gives me an advantage over the other candidates.

Old McGill Yearbook

The yearbook is an important issue. SSMU […] is currently in the red because of these yearbooks and this is really hurting their progress on completing the Death Star. Everyone, myself included, was really looking forward to seeing the Death Star completed before graduating, so seeing this pushed back is disappointing. If elected, I would focus all our efforts away from yearbooks and towards the Death Star.

Communication

Communication has always been a priority for me. I’ve taken CCOM 206, a communications course offered for engineering students and I received an A, so you could say that I’m a masterful communicator. Whether I’m on the bus yelling at strangers, or alone in my room talking to a mirror, I’m adept at expressing my point of view.

Equity

Equity is also important. It’s so prevalent in day to day life. Say, for example, that you own a car worth $15,000 but owe $5,000 on that car. That car represents $10,000 equity. I believe that it’s imperative that all students graduate with basic knowledge of finance and economics to ensure that they make smart financial decisions in the future.

How do you plan on coming in halfway through the term and adjusting, knowing that you have four months left?

As soon as I am elected, I will stage a coup, removing the other members from SSMU […] and declaring myself the eternal president. Afterwards, my plan is to move SSMU […] headquarters to Copenhagen, Denmark for an undetermined period of time.

Is there anything you’d like us to know about you as a candidate and your platform?

I feel as though gingers are underrepresented in student body politics. Being a full-blooded ginger myself, I want to bring [ginger issues] to the forefront. For example, SSMU […] currently distributes sunblock during Frosh only. However, I think, as a ginger, that it should be distributed year round. It’s an important issue that I believe needs addressing.

Why did you not run in the last election?

I was running in the New York City marathon when I fell in an open manhole and got trapped. To escape I had to saw off my own arm, yet despite the blood loss finished the race with a time of 127 hours. After the race, upon awaking from my coma, I decided that it was time that I really did something with my life.

Lou Bernardi

How do you plan on overseeing the different aspects of your portfolio?

Not at all, I'd resign immediately.

How do you plan on coming in halfway through the term and adjusting, knowing that you have four months left?

I plan on resigning immediately so the next guy only has to have the position for three and a half months. That would be so much less stress on their shoulders. I realize sometimes, that I am truly a giver in life.

Is there anything you'd like us to know about you as a candidate and your platform?

I am the most qualified joke candidate to run this election. I come hot off the campaign trail of the federal elections where I ran for member of parliament, unfortunately losing to another status quo candidate.

Why did you not run in the last election?

Last year’s election drama for president was hilarious and terrible, however the need to mock something wasn’t strong enough until this [most recent round] of elections.