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Endorsement: Allison Cooper

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Both candidates for the VP Clubs and Services position are well qualified for the position. However, we have the most confidence in Allison Cooper for fulfilling this role.

Cooper has had extensive experience as a club member and leader. However, we believe that her experience as a receptionist behind the the front desk at SSMU is the most relevant and has prepared her for dealing with the inherent bureaucracy of the position. She has the most comprehensive understanding of the challenges faced by clubs and services themselves, from paperwork to complaints. Working behind the front desk, Cooper has effectively been training for this role all year.

The scope of the VP Clubs and Services portfolio makes it one of the most challenging. With over 300 clubs and services at McGill, the VP Clubs and Services must have tremendous organizational and management abilities. Cooper played an integral role in the compilation of the Independent Study Inquiry, processing dozens of interviews and drafting a lengthy and comprehensive document regarding the events of Nov. 10. We hope her management ability and initiative will transfer well to the role as VP.

Cooper understands one of the broader issues facing McGill clubs and services: institutional memory often fails to develop within clubs and services. Cooper hopes to continue current VP Carol Fraser’s efforts to digitize club documents. We were also impressed by her interest in promoting sustainability projects.

That said, Sahil Chaini is experienced in dealing with one of the most contentious issues among clubs and services this year: the use of the McGill name. Her role as Clubs and Services Representative undoubtedly makes her a viable candidate for VP Clubs and Services, and we welcome her ideas to increase clubs’ awareness of how SSMU can help them develop and thrive.

Ultimately, we think that Cooper’s experience with red tape—and enthusiasm for dealing with it—makes her the best candidate.


Raphael Uribe Arango

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What kind of experiences have you had which would prepare you for the role of VP External?

I’ve attended national student meetings in England, which is where I’m from; I’ve attended meetings at TASEQ and CLASSE, so I have experience with student unions and how to deal with them. I’m a member of Amnesty International … I’m an avid person who’s willing to stand up for people and support and debate for them.

What do you think the VP External’s role is?

It’s to be a spokesperson for the student society and all the students on campus. He’s also supposed to be as transparent as possible. He has to promote the current affairs not just in Montreal and Quebec, but worldwide, so he also makes information available to students. A person who listens to students on campus and also a person who takes initiatives which he thinks will benefit the student society and the campus.

Could you evaluate Joel’s performance this year and say what you would do differently?

 I’ve worked with Joel on SSMU Council … He’s done a tremendous job raising awareness for tuition hikes … He’s obviously been very strong in student activism. I would focus more on the international perspective because I’m an international student. The strike is not going to last forever and the tuition fee hike will soon be an issue of the past and I would focus on establishing links with universities, set up exchanges, share research with universities, give the students the opportunities to travel. I would give students the opportunity to explore the global world.

Why do you think you’re the best candidate?

I’m a motivated individual, I’m very passionate about what I do. Obviously it’s very unusual for a first year to run for this position, but I thought hard about it and I love McGIll and I love the community, and I would not run but for the love I have for the community at large. I work very hard and I’m a very good listener; I listen to any view, regardless of the opinion. I’m very open minded, I make myself as transparent and as available as possible. I also speak three languages; English, French, and Spanish. 

If you were a superhero, what would your super power be:

I guess it would be flying. I’ve always felt the thrills and chills of flying, I was a cadet at the Royal Airforce for two years. Flying for me is a passion that really drives me.

Katie Larson

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What do you think the biggest challenge is going to be next year?

I think the biggest challenge is communication. I know everyone drops that as a buzzword, but it’s difficult because McGill is very big. There are so many different departments that can intermix, and have a lot of great things they could be doing with each other, but it’s about being able to find the information, aggregate all of that information and then be able to sit down and analyze and implement the information. So it’s a really big project to undertake.

What experience do you have that will prepare you for the position?

I see [myself] as having a very broad experience. As president of a faculty association I do a lot more work on the ground … Events planning is a big part of the position, but it’s not the only thing. There’s a lot more talking to individual students and dealing with individual academic issues. I also had the opportunity this year to sit on the president’s round table, [where we] discussed more broad issues … [sometimes including] meetings with Masi and Heather Munroe-Blum. And then my experience as VP External last year … that was more organizing charitable events, and I also sat on legislative council, which gave me really great insight into SSMU. In addition, I worked on the SSMU interest group committee, so I have a good idea of the overall scope of clubs and services, which is the core of SSMU.

Do you have any ideas for new events next year?

I think homecoming is a good idea. Then again, McGill is known for having low school spirit … Logistically, [homecoming] kind of falls by the wayside to Frosh because you have to plan it so far in advance over the summer, but that’d be something I’d like to look into. 

I really want to do more diverse events … stuff that really engages people on a more academic level without stepping on what the university can already offer … I want to look into the idea of working with smaller faculties to either bolster something they want to do at a faculty level, or maybe hold small events or info sessions around campus. I want them to say “We’re SSMU. We’re on campus. We’re not just here at the Shatner building – we’re everywhere.”

If you could high five anyone in history, who would you high five?

I’d probably go with Susan B. Anthony. 

Zhi Zhen Qin

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How has your experience as science representative prepared you for this position?

My experience as a representative prepared me to serve the students  and hear what students want and that’s different from representing myself on legislative council. I think this position requires connecting between students because we’re here to manage student fees and provide maximum resources for students. That  experience has helped me understand what students want. For example, during the occupations I held special office hours on Thursday night in Burnside basement. 

What other kind of experience do you have that would help with the VP Finance and Operations position?

I was working in the operation management committee and at the financial ethical review committee. I also directly worked with the student run cafe working group. I was involved in small student clubs such as QMG and WikiNotes. Some clubs have never heard that SSMU has funding for them, and some of them have never heard about [the] campus life fund. The application process is hard for small and new clubs, because they don’t have the resources to start from scratch. The SSMU funds clubs based on audit scores, and this audit score [is] hard to understand as a non-management student. 

What do you think is the most important issue facing the VP FOPS next year?

I can see the biggest issue being coordinating between different projects and operations and the renovations at the same time.  This summer, Gerts and the second floor are undergoing renovations and Gerts will be closed for renovations. SSMU doesn’t know how much revenue they’re going to lose. With incoming operations such as the café, the biggest challenge will be to manage both new operations, old operations, and the renovations.

What did you like about the way this year’s VP FOPS ran their job, and what would you do differently?

I really liked that this VP Finance worked very hard on the the student run café, including in the working group and a financial review committee. He was really proactive this year. Shyam did a really good job of accomplishing the second ethical business purchasing policy that’s going to come out. Additionally, I want to improve the Marketplace. We need to better manage this website to streamline the user experience. 

If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?

Maybe seeing the future.

Endorsement: Raphael Uribe Arango

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The Tribune was conflicted over the selection of candidates for VP External. The VP External must act as a spokesperson for McGill students and is often the first point of contact with major media outlets. He or she must be well-versed on the issues facing McGill students and must listen to the opinions of the entire student body. For these reasons, we are disappointed with the selection of candidates for this position.

Raphael Uribe Arango’s relative lack of experience is concerning. He is keen to become involved in student politics, but we worry that the jump from IRC VP External to SSMU VP External may be too big. His focus on international issues and creating international partnerships with universities may be theoretically sound, but the primary issues at hand next year will likely be local—notably Quebec tuition increases. After only one year on this campus, we are not convinced that Uribe Arango has a comprehensive understanding of local issues and we are not confident in his ability to speak to the press about these issues.

On the other hand, Robin Reid-Fraser has demonstrated an understanding of McGill issues—so much so that she took part in the sixth floor occupation of the James Administration Building. The VP External must be passionate about their role in the community, but they must also listen to the student population. We don’t have confidence in her ability to act as a spokesperson for the student body. Her actions speak louder than the words contained in her platform.

Ultimately, one of these two candidates will be elected. We hope that Uribe Arango can get over a steep learning curve quickly by observing those around him.

Michael Szpejda

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What are the most important issues facing the VP Internal next year and what do you think the biggest challenge will be?

I think the most important issues involve a renewed commitment to student life. … I want to make a strong brand value for SSMU events. I want to make the first few events really high quality for incoming students, really making SSMU frosh relevant again. 

And also increasing the visibility of McGill events—so not only with the list serve, but also making the SSMU website more usable.  

Also, having faculties focused on assisting each other. I think the VP Internal’s job is to meet with these people throughout the year to create a sense of community so they know they can rely on each other and on the VP Internal’s office. It would be great to help support the smaller faculties, because they really do have some great initiatives.

Frosh has undergone quite a few changes recently. What other ideas do you have, since you’re focusing on frosh?

I think that the main problems with frosh in the past have been a lack of communication with the administration. There were only two meetings with administration this summer and they only happened in the middle and at the end … We needed an outline of what the administration expected from us … Also, a lot of the clubs in frosh can be all-ages even when they are serving alcohol, they just cost significantly more. I think it’s SSMU’s responsibility to ensure that these events are inclusive and with all its resources.

What are your goals for the events later in the year?

I would work to strengthen the events that are already there—so Four Floors, Week 101. 

I’m looking into not just an end of the year concert, but also the feasibility of having a music festival —something that really showcases local talent and our own student talent, and that could generate a lot of interest in the community. Not everyone likes a certain type of music, but it would be great to showcase the diversity of music within our community.

If you could high five anyone in history, who would you high five?

I’d have to choose James McGill, because I’ve really grown as a person here … I think this school has really allowed me to discover a part of myself I never knew.

Allison Cooper

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What do you see as being the biggest challenge in this position?

I think one really big challenge that we see a lot at the front desk is just sort of general administration of clubs. 

Something they’ve been trying to do a lot this year that Carol has been doing a lot of work on has been really categorizing all of the clubs. … If [people] miss activities night to get involved with clubs, they go to the website, so it’s really important that it has all the contact information for groups and all the information about them. Having them in categories like “environmental groups,” “charity groups,” “musical groups,” “athletics groups” is a really great way to help administer clubs, and I’d really like to see then representatives from groups that are in a similar category get together and talk about their shared needs.

The clubs and services portfolio is huge, overseeing all of these clubs and services. Do you think that you’re organized enough and have the management skills to handle such a big portfolio?

Yeah, I mean one example of how I’ve been able to do that recently is as a lead author of the Independent Student Inquiry this year, which I’m really impressed that we managed to pull together. … So on Nov. 11 that project started, and we had our preliminary report out, which I think was really comprehensive, by I think Dec. 1, two weeks before Jutras.  

It’s a really long report, and I think very professional. The amount of organization that took was definitely a lot, and our final report actually just came out, it’s also really comprehensive. Within clubs and services on that end of the paperwork side and then working at the front desk, all of this sort of administrative, organizational stuff is so important. Without it it would just be a mess.

If you were a superhero what would your power be?

I have to pick one power? I want to say healing powers, but really I would just want to fly.

Matt Crawford

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What are the most important issues facing the VP UA next year?

Making sure that the university continues its commitment to accessible financial aid. That’s going to continue to be a priority because McGill’s committed to giving 30 cents on every net new dollar from the tuition increases to financial aid, but we need to make sure that it stays accessible.  

We need to work with the resources that we have. So looking at ways we can promote library services which are really phenomenal but underused. 

One of my platform points is the reintroduciton of the discussion for a midday break. That would be a really great university-wide policy. 

What would be your role in addressing divide between students and admin?

I would be an effective communicator. If you consult my senate speaking record, when student rights have come under attack I’ve been the one who has been the most consistently vocal at Senate. We need people who are willing to stand up and talk about these things. 

How would you address those who are critical of your role in the sixth floor occupation?

There’s an underlying issue to the occupation which has gone unaddressed because we focused on tactics, not substance. I don’t necessarily agree with all the tactics that were used. … But at the same time, I think the reason those people were up there … was the fact that the administration had taken an executive decision in our democratic process. 

We don’t serve at the pleasure of the university, we serve at the pleasure of students and we serve at the pleasure of the society that represents them. There is a minimal acceptable standard for interacting with the university: they should respect the democratic decision-making that they have given us. It’s well established that we have the power to self-determination in certain respects, and that needs to be a fundamentally protected right.

If you were a superhero what would your power be?

Maybe having a really loud voice so everybody could hear me.

Robert Bell

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What do you think is the most important aspect of the VP Internal’s job?

I think the most important aspect is providing radically diverse experiences for incoming students. The portfolio has been far too focused on the same sets of events every single year, and not broadening the horizons to the great experience that Montreal has to offer.… I’d like to see more collaboration with events that are often done by McGill students but don’t occur on campus, so that instead of leading people around the same little circuit for one week during Frosh or during the broader school year, there’s actually a chance to explore some of the awesome events that are going on downtown.

What kind of realm of experience do you have for this position?

A big part of my campaign is the fact that I’m not affiliated with SSMU. I think there’s a culture of insiderness associated with the SSMU. I come from a background that’s been invested in an informal sense in organizing and planning events in various cultural institutions throughout the city—music events, artistic events. I’ve also done work promoting and managing restaurants, so things like working with a budget are definitely within my purview. I’ve done informal work on campus to promote and facilitate general assemblies. 

There’s been some  polarization on campus this year. What do you think is the VP Internal’s role in addressing this divide?

I think the VP Internal should take a principled position with regards to the issue of tuition fee increases. I think the current political debate and discussion is important to foster no matter what side of the political spectrum you may be on, but I do think that the current political issue is one that will affect students if tuition fees go up. It will limit accessibility for students to come to McGill and that’s very important to recognize and address as VP Internal. The position should really focus on creating more spaces for students to discuss and engage with the political issues that we face on our campus and within this province.

If you could high five anyone in history, who would you high five?

I would high five that Invisible Hand in the marketplace.… I mean, what bigger hand could you high five?

Endorsement: Haley Dinel

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While all of the candidates for VP University Affairs have extensive SSMU, faculty, and Senate experience, we endorse Haley Dinel because of her exceptional diplomacy.

Next year’s SSMU executive will have to focus on rebuilding a healthy relationship with the administration. Her extensive list of working relationships with senior administrators  have prepared her very well for this role. 

Dinel is committed to achieving student goals through the appropriate channels, evident in her collaboration in live- streaming Senate meetings and a question and answer period with the Principal following Nov. 10.

Dinel is one of a select group of students which senior members of the administration takes seriously. Coupled with her commitment to creating safe spaces for all students’ voices, we are confident in her ability to help the McGill community move forward next year.

While both Matt Crawford and Emil Briones have similar experience as senators, we believe that Dinel is particularly suited to bridging the divide between the student body and the administration next year. 

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