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CAMPUS: Just in case you had SSMU withdrawal…

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The Students’ Society of McGill University is back and ready for a new year after a summer of hard work. But who are the personalities behind these photos? What do these power-wielders do with their three month break. Read through this handy guide to find out more about them and their plans for this year.

Aaron Donny-Clark, President.Goals for the coming year: Donny-Clark plans to stick to the goals he ran on: putting more focus on the environment, developing better communication between departments, getting rid of booking fees for the Shatner Building and coming up with a “Developmental Plan” for the year that advocates students.Projects at the moment: “It’s the nature of my job to do whatever people need me to do,” Donny-Clark said, so lately he’s been working on Frosh, Discover McGill and the regular bureaucratic duties.Summer Vacation: Along with Max Silverman, Donny-Clark went on a tour of 30 student unions all over Canada to explore new ideas. “We got to see how other student unions run themselves and see how we can improve,” he said.

Floh Herra-Vega, Vice-president Clubs and ServicesGoals for the upcoming year: Making it easier for campus clubs to gain access to SSMU and to obtain resources.Projects for the moment: The first is helping establish “Organic Campus,” which is expanding its services this year. It operated last year as a co-op, and will now be based downstairs in the Shatner building. Herra-Vega’s second project is the implementation of the Harm Reduction Centre. This is a new group focused on drug use and abuse. They will be working on informing students about what may be putting them at risk and activities they should avoid. The group will also be doing advocacy work. Summer Vacation: “Or lack thereof.” Cleaning up a lot of paper work in clubs and services. However, she did get two weeks off at one point.

Gill Predergast, VP Communications and EventsGoals for the coming year: Prendergast plans to focus on athletics this year and stick to everything she campaigned on. “It’s going to be a huge year with the election and everything. I feel like last year they laid the ground work and now we can really take the reins,” she said.Projects for the moment: Organizing Frosh and making sure that all runs smoothly. Summer Vacation: Prendergast spent most of the summer dealing with red tape, setting up Frosh, and meshing with the SSMU team. One of her biggest accomplishments was setting up an online registration for Frosh that can be used for years to come.

Max Silverman, Vice-president ExternalGoals for the coming year: Silverman wants to create a healthier neighborhood in the ghetto by opening discussions between student reps and community members and creating a landlord registry in which students can compile complaints on those landlords. He also plans to prepare for the upcoming provincial election and get the tuition freeze extended and applied to international and exchange students. On the national level he wants to explore the Canadian Student Movement.Projects at the moment: “I’m preparing for fights with a “flying squad” – an autonomous mobilized SSMU wing,” he said. These wings would be able to organize outside of SSMU and work with the community on their own projects, thus increasing the scope and efficiency of SSMU’s policies.Summer Vacation: Silverman joined Donny-Clark on a 30 day tour across Canada to see about 30 student unions in all the provinces except PEI. “We wanted to see the best ways to organize and get some ideas,” he said.

Dave Sunstrum, Vice-president Finance and OperationsGoals for the upcoming year: Sunstrum is looking to work with Donny-Clark to end room-booking fees in the Shatner building. “We can’t really tell McGill University to abolish room fees if we continue to charge them ourselves,” he said. Projects at the moment: Making atmospheric changes at Gerts by getting clubs to paint the tables, making a CKUT mural on the wall and improving the decor. “Gert’s has taken some good steps,” he said, “but it’s not quite yet what I had envisioned.” Sunstrum is also taking a course to improve his French skills.Summer Vacation: Who wouldn’t love to worry about Gert’s all summer? Sunstrum has spent a significant part of his summer improving the under-used campus hangout by hiring a new manager, signing new beer contracts to bring Griffon, Moosehead and Carlsberg into the bar. Sunstrum also gave catering service Savoir Faire the boot from their downstairs space which is being converted into an organic foods space.

Finn Heather Upham, Vice-president University AffairsGoals for the upcoming year: Upham will be looking toward developing new undergraduate research opportunities. She stresses the need to evaluate who is getting these opportunities and suggests that we need to open the process up. She will be promoting an academic integrity campaign by working with TV McGill to release a video.Projects for the moment: Being excited and terrified all at once. In addition to that, Upham is chairing three committees including Senate caucus, university affairs and the library improvement committee. Her role (self described) is to be the student representative. “I’m here to speak up for the undergraduate voice.”Summer vacation: Spent largely in front of a computer researching contracts, the quality of education and course evaluation. She’s also been working with la FEUQ to help preserve the tuition freeze in Quebec.

CAMPUS: SSMU delays handbooks

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A recent controversy over the content of the SSMU handbook has resulted in a three week delay in its realease due to the firing of the two original editors.

Genevieve Friesen and Sara Kipp-Ferguson, the original editors for the handbook, were let go in August when the finished product was deemed unacceptable by Students’ Society executives, said Vice-President University Affairs Finn Upham. “There was material in the handbook, both pictorial and written, that was offensive,” Upham said. “Particularly in the assumptions about the reader. Not everyone at McGill is a rez-inhabiting U0 Anglophone who is comfortable with over-the-top sexuality.”

However, Friesen and Kipp-Ferguson were required only to make relatively minor changes at first. According to Friesen, a former Tribune design editor, after receiving a print at the end of July that was reviewed by executives, Upham asked that a section of the handbook be changed. The section was a four page pull-out of colouring pages that featured different sexual positions.

Despite that one section, it seemed that the handbook was acceptable. Friesen fixed the four pages, one of the more lewd sections of the sexually-toned handbook, before she left later that evening to visit family in Manitoba. Kipp-Ferguson was also away during this time, and it was not until the two editors returned a week later that they learned of SSMU’s decision to hire a new team of editors.

Upham explained that there were complications with the handbook and that Friesen and Kipp-Ferguson were no longer editors. According to VP Clubs and Services Floh Herra Vega, they have been replaced by Carly Boyce and Jenna Wakami. However, Friesen claimed that she was not given an opportunity to fix the problems.

“They didn’t give us a chance and they didn’t give us the credit. We didn’t find out until two days after the entire process had been restarted,” she said.

Upham acknowledged that there were mistakes made that could have been avoided.

“I think the mistakes were failures of institutional memory, bad habits from years of the executives being too hands-off and no one properly informing the editors and incoming executives of what was expected in terms of content and contact,” she said.

However, she remains confident that this decision was in the best interests of McGill students.

“The handbook in its present state is more inclusive, contains more accurate information, and is designed to inform, not to shock,” Upham said.

Friesen disagreed with Upham’s contention about shocking content.

“We’re in Montreal, one of the most open cities in the world, and we can’t talk about sex in our book?”

Barring unforeseen delays, the revised handbook will be available today.

CAMPUS: SSMU ditches room fees

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Making good on a central campaign promise, Students’ Society executives announced last week that rooms in the Shatner Building can now be booked free of charge. Beginning last Friday, internal clubs, faculty associations, media, SSMU recognized groups and others are now able to use the rooms without the customary bill.

However, not all groups will have free access. Outside groups not approved by SSMU will still have to pay a fee to use the Shatner rooms.

SSMU President Aaron Donny-Clark, Vice-President Clubs and Services Floh Herra-Vega and VP Finance and Operations David Sunstrum all campaigned with one of their goals as the elimination of booking fees in the Shatner Building.

“We can’t ask McGill to get rid of room booking fees if we’re still doing,” Sunstrum said earlier in the year.

Herra-Vega agreed, adding, “McGill should be encouraging students to use their facilities and some clubs have trouble affording that. We think that booking should be accessible. The fees right now aren’t representative of the administrative effort that goes into booking rooms.”

Sunstrum estimated that SSMU had an income of $33,000 from internal room booking fees, $8,000 of which was from SSMU mini-courses. Another $2,500 was made from faculty bookings and $15,000 from external university administration.However, SSMU will not be going into debt or running a deficit due to the loss of booking income.

“We don’t have to rework the budget at all because we had such a large surplus last year and such a large projected surplus for this year,” said Sunstrum. “Now more club subsidies can go to students for this year.”

“It just seems silly to charge students for space when we’re giving out grants to pay for room bookings,” Herra-Vega said. It’s just a huge slush fund. The money is going out and coming right back to us in room booking fees,” Herra-Vega said.

“We’ve been trying to do this since we took office. It was just a matter of geting us all together,” said Sunstrum.

SSMU executives spent the summer coming up with the best system to implement to abolish fees, and agreed on Saturday to the current plan.

Clubs will now be able to book ten hours per week in the Shatner Building for free, excluding the Ballroom, which can be booked at a maximum of thirty hours per month.

“The Ballroom is different because groups need to book it for a longer chunk of time,” said Herra-Vega. “They have to do sound check and set up which takes a lot longer than just a meeting. Also, people don’t tend to book them for two meetings a week every week. It’s mostly special events.”

Any group found leasing their time in the rooms to a company or private party will lose booking privileges for a yet-to-be-determined amount of time. This policy is designed to ensure that the rooms are being used for McGill clubs and students.

Another concern for the new policy is the amount of space in the building in proportion to the number of clubs.

“Everything is really full,” Herra-Vega said.

In order to book the larger rooms in Shatner: the kitchen, the ballroom or Lev Bukhman, a form must be filled out explaining the need for the room in order to ensure that all space is being used in the most effective manner.

“We want to be sure that our space is being used the right way,” Herra-Vega said. “We don’t want someone using the Ballroom for a wine and cheese when they could be having the meeting in a smaller room.”

Anyone that has already booked a room in the Shatner Building will not need to refile, they will simply not be sent a bill for their time in the room.

CAMPUS: Activites night reaches new heights

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Adding the Shatner building’s fourth floor to last week’s Activities Night received mixed reviews from clubs and services. According to Students’ Society Vice-President Clubs and Services Floh Herra-Vega, the decision to open the top floor was made because this year SSMU recognized more clubs than ever before.

To help draw traffic, large, popular clubs were assigned to the top floor. However, many of those clubs were unhappy with being placed in the out-of-the-way clubs lounge.

Sabrina Mawani, U2 IDS and Biomedical Sciences of Habitat for Humanity was initially worried.

“A lot of people don’t use the fourth floor,” she said. “Although, I thought it would be a lot worse.”

Habitat wasn’t particularly suffering from reduced traffic. “It’s more spacious [up here], and less crowded. You get a chance to tell more people as opposed to shouting.”

Representatives of the Gamer’s Guild, also on the fourth floor, were more enthusiastic.

“Look at all these names we have,” said Andrew Bernstein, keyholder of the Gamers Guild, pointing to his list. “Plus, all the clubs in this lounge are intellectual clubs. These [board] games are intellectual games.”

Although the smaller clubs didn’t mind the change, the larger clubs were less at ease.

Dan Radmanovic, president of the International Relations Students’ Association of McGill University, was disappointed with the decision.

“SSMU put the prestigious clubs up here,” he said. “Look who else is up here. There’s been no traffic. Last year we were club of the year. We had 550 people sign up [at Activities Night] and this year we’re just under 200.”

Radmanovic stressed that Activities Night is important for recruiting students rather than having a quiet atmosphere to fully explain the mandate of his club.

“People have been asking us ‘Why aren’t you downstairs?’ I don’t know,” he said.

The McGill Debating Union cited similar concerns, and noted dramatically fewer sign-ups than in previous years.

Certain clubs noted advantages to being on the fourth floor, namely groups who currently occupy offices on the top level of Shatner.

Pascale Dequen of le Centre pour les Étudiants Francophones pointed out the benefits.

“It’s less crowded, less loud and there’s less traffic,” she said. “Also, it’s an advantage to be right in front of our office.”

“I think it would be better if we were [also] handing out pamphlets downstairs,” she added.

Meg Atkinson, U2 Anthropology, who was representing the McGill Global AIDS Coalition, summarized the general feeling.

“I was kind of surprised when I found out [our table would be here]. There’s not as much traffic, but it’s not detrimental. I do have mixed feelings but I’m happy to go with the flow.”

Motion moves SSMU towards vegan-friendly Shatner Building

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Thanks to a motion passed last Thursday by the Students’ Society Council, McGill vegans may soon have more food options available to them in the Shatner Building.

The motion, put forward by Emil Briones, the representative from the Faculty of Music requires SSMU to encourage its food service tenants to offer more vegan-friendly choices, though it does not mandate tenants to provide vegan options.

“I worded the motion very carefully,” Briones said. “I just wanted action to be [taken] in terms of making sure the vegan food options are visible in the Shatner Building without pressuring food services into doing something that they can’t be forced to do.”

SSMU Vice-President Clubs & Services Sarah Olle echoed Briones’ sentiments.

“We discussed a requirement to mandate our tenants to have at least one vegan food item,” Olle said. “However, we felt that, first of all, it would be too hard for our tenants, and second of all, that wouldn’t actually be as effective as the way the motion is written now.”

Currently, Midnight Kitchen is the only food service in the Shatner Building that offers vegan-friendly meals on a daily basis. The student-run organization is only available during lunch hours, though. With the passage of the motion, current tenants will be encouraged to take steps toward offering vegan options without overhauling their menus.

“This is really a customer-focussed motion,” Olle said. “It shows our tenants that having vegan food options is not really a requirement, but is something they should do for their customers because it is important to them and it will increase their business.”

While preparing the motion, Briones and several other vegan students visited Shatner’s food service tenants to investigate the current options for vegan students, in addition to holding discussions with current councillors and incoming executives. Briones said that he expects next year’s executives to carry out the terms of motion.

“I think the main implication would be if right now [the tenants] may be a little sloppy in how they are preparing something – where it would be almost vegan if they changed one ingredient or one procedure of cooking – they would now be encouraged to change so that an item could get the vegan sticker of approval,” Olle said.

Simin Sattari, the manager of Café Supreme in the Shatner Building, explained that Café Supreme currently offers several vegetarian options, but changing their menu to offer vegan options could be problematic.

“About changing, you’d have to talk to the company,” Sattari said. “We don’t choose the food ourselves. They mandate our recipes. If we’re going to change anything, they’re going to charge us. We have to serve what they offer because we are a franchise. We don’t have the power to change the menu.”

The motion also mandates SSMU to move toward improving the visibility and labelling of vegan food products in the Shatner Building, in addition to taking the vegan issue into consideration when 2011 lease renegotiations with food service tenants.

“Right now in the music cafeteria there are little tags that say ‘This soup is vegan-friendly,'” Briones said. “Little things like that will make a lot of difference because being vegan personally, I don’t feel comfortable eating anywhere in the SSMU building aside from Midnight Kitchen. I don’t know if a knife, say, touched something with meat in it or chicken broth in it. I just want to make sure that vegans are comfortable eating in the SSMU building while Midnight Kitchen is not operating.”

Additional reporting by Tori Crawford

Newburgh wins SSMU presidency

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Hillel Montreal President and former EUS and SSMU Speaker of Council Zach Newburgh was elected SSMU president on Thursday evening, narrowly edging out his competitors with 28.6 per cent of the vote. Newburgh’s margin of victory was only 1.5 per cent of the vote over AUS Senator Sarah Woolf.

“It was an extremely close race,” said Newburgh. “All of the candidates ran a tremendous campaign.”

In the other contested elections, Myriam Zaidi earned 46.7 per cent of the vote to win the position of vice-president external. Josh Abaki pulled out a victory in the VP university affairs race with 49.3 per cent of the vote-winning on a platform of a “student-centered university.” Abaki, who claimed that he was the underdog, was overjoyed with his victory.

“It’s pretty amazing,” he said. “I’m really, really glad. I didn’t think it would happen, especially after not getting the endorsements and so many things happening, but I am really glad. I think I was able to get through to students and the hard work that I’ve put in through the year has finally paid off.”

In another contested race, Tom Fabian was elected VP internal with 54.9 per cent of the vote, the highest percentage of all the races for SSMU executive positions. Fabian credited the victory to his platform of promoting athletics and expanding university social affairs, although he felt the race was hotly contested until the last minute.

“I’m speechless,” said Fabian. “Five minutes before this I was stressing out so much, I just had it in my head all day. I’m very relieved.”

In the acclaimed elections, Nicholas Drew and Anushay Kahn were approved for the positions of VP finance and VP clubs and services, with 67.8 per cent and 66.4 per cent of the vote, respectively.

Among the referenda questions, The McGill Tribune won its independence with 49.9 per cent of the vote, ensuring that the Tribune will become an independent organization funded by a non-opt-outable $3 student fee. A referendum to insert the words “bodily sovereignty” into the SSMU Constitution was also approved, with a 64.2 per cent “yes” vote. TVMcGill also secured a 50-cent per semester opt-outable fee with 50 per cent approval.

“At the bottom of our souls, we thought we weren’t going to get it, but we’re so happy we did, and we can’t wait to really make a big impact on campus next year and really make our presence felt,” said Alex Seltzer, features and series producer for TVMcGill.

“We know TVMcGill isn’t a huge organization, but this is the next step,” said Executive Producer Arthur Cormon. “It’s what we want to do to keep going and become more legitimate. This was definitely the year for this to happen, and we’re super excited. We’re not the Daily or the Tribune yet, but we’re getting there.”

In the senatorial elections, Matt Reid was elected management senator, securing 34.9 per cent of the vote in the six-candidate race.

“I feel spectacular,” said Reid. “I’m in first year now, but I’m ready to make changes. It’s a really great opportunity for me.”

Claudette van Zyl, Amara Possian and Tyler Lawson were elected as arts senators, earning 28.5 per cent, 25.3 per cent and 16.2 per cent of the vote respectively. All of the new senators were excited by their victories.

“It still hasn’t hit me yet,” said Lawson. “I’m so excited. … It’s going to be fantastic and I’m pumped. I’m just so taken aback right now.”

Andrew Doyle and Simon Liu were both elected as engineering senators. Hui Long Li and Annie Ma won 25.6 per cent and 33.6 per cent of the vote, and will serve as science senators next year. In the race for law senator, Randall Blom captured 53.6 per cent of the vote. Catherine Ready was also approved as music senator, with an 81.3 per cent approval rate in the uncontested race.

The Tribune goes to school on SSMU elections and referenda

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President

STEFAN LINK

STEFAN LINK

How will your past experience influence your approach to the presidential portfolio? I have always been looking at the basic student services that affect the majority of people. So in the Physics Society, I knew that the math department had a really functional help desk that lots of students use and I didn’t understand why physics didn’t have a similar service, so I just wanted to start something similar for the physics people, and I did. The next thing I did was organizing a career fair. Just the basic services that I would expect to see. That was a great experience where I learned a lot about leadership, motivating people, how to deal with administration and bureaucracy. What do you plan to do about the GA?I think that it is extremely important that [students] are discussing things like Israel and Palestine and I think it is important that they have a forum for discussion. However, I do not think that McGill University as a whole should be taking a stance on issues like these, and if that is what it comes down to it should not be with three per cent of the population. I really don’t think that it has a place in the GA. I would like to have [the GA] in the gym and I would increase attendance by physically going and speaking with the departments to tell them ‘Hey there is a general assembly coming up in a month.’ What issues would you seek to advance on BoG and how would you work with other board members to accomplish them? I would like to see a big increase in approaching other private and industrial sectors to give bursaries and scholarships to the students because they have a lot of money … there are private sectors and industries that are interested in this because if they are going to succeed they are going to need the best people working for them. I would also like to push for transparency. What has SSMU done right this year and what would you do differently? They realized that they had to shut down Haven Books, which was extremely good. I think that it’s good that they did the energy audits. They did do a really good job with Gert’s compared to previous years but I still think that it can be improved a lot. I also think that one of the main things they have not done is address basic student services that you would expect to find at a University. It also only costs pennies per semester to have a 24-hour library service. We are at one of the top universities in the world, many other universities already have this service. It is very successful and so why we don’t have it is an extremely good question, especially because it costs virtually nothing. They have not addressed basic things that affect everybody everyday. If you were a type of cocktail, what would you be? Wow, that’s a tough one…sex on the beach?

TRIP YANG

TRIP YANG

How will your past experience influence your approach to the presidential portfolio?Well, one of the things I try to market about myself is that I have a diverse set of experiences. I’ve worked for the Tribune for four years. Writing news stories requires that you have an objective, impartial point of view when you’re trying to cover something. As a SSMU President it’s really important to stimulate debate, to open up discussion, and to try and encourage others to have flexible mindsets. I’m also the president of the McGill Computer Taskforce – it’s a large student-run organization within the [Science Undergraduate Society.]

What would you do to change the General Assembly?I really want to change the GA. I’ve read the editorials by the Tribune and by the Daily, and there seems to be a consensus that the current GA model doesn’t work. I want to reform the GA so that instead of holding a GA once per semester, I want to only hold it when student debate and consultation is required. I want the GA to be televised – hopefully by TVMcGill, if their referendum question passes, and they gain access to more equipment – and made into a two-part process. First, students would debate and amend motions at a GA, then after the GA has been televised and students have had a chance to watch it, the entire student body would be able to vote on the motions online.

What would be your main concerns and areas of focus during the Memorandum of Agreement negotiations with the administration?Outside of securing an acceptable, student-friendly lease for the Shatner Building, I really want to look at the potentially restrictive language surrounding student-run initiatives. Haven Books is a perfect example – $200,000 of debt in three years – and that was largely the result of not being able to advertise on campus or on SSMU Listservs.

How much of a voice do you think the president can have on the Board of Governors, and what are your plans to advance student concerns there?For undergraduates, the president is the only student representative on the BoG, so it’s imperative that the president fights for his or her constituency’s interests. At the same time, there’s a possibility of being intimidated during his or her first time at the BoG, because there are a number of high-profile administrators and businessmen that sit on the BoG. And in order for a president in his or her twenties to be taken seriously, she needs to speak professionally and convey student interests without antagonizing the rest of the members of the BoG.

What cocktail would you be?A martini, because James Bond drinks those bad boys.

ZACH NEWBURGH

ZACH NEWBURGH

How will your past experience influence your approach to the presidential portfolio?I have served as the speaker of Council both for SSMU and for AUS, so I have a great knowledge of the various faculty associations that exist on campus. I am also currently the president of Hillel Montreal, and I was the president of one of the largest North American youth movements and then the chair of an international youth movement that held conferences focussing on leadership development and social justice all across the world.

How would you address the issues surrounding the General Assembly?It’s silly for us to pretend that the GA is a democratic forum if you cannot fit five per cent of your student society in the room. There was a great idea to provide an opportunity to debate questions, and to release video and sound clips from that particular debate online. And to have the vote online so students can hear about both the pros and cons of a particular resolution as well as the opportunity to engage in direct democracy.

What would be the main things you push for in the MoA renegotiations?Some very important things should be fought for in the MoA agreement, such as the right to use the McGill logo and the name. [Also important are the] continued use of phone lines, emails, and website domains, as well as ensuring that the Students’ Society is able to operate independently and successfully.

What do you think you could practically accomplish on the Board of Governors, and how would you work with other members of the board to advance student concerns?It’s extremely important that we represent the interests of our students and as president I will certainly represent interests that are important to our students. I’ve indicated in my platform that something I’m interested in doing is increasing accessibility – providing an opportunity for students to be represented fairly and adequately.

What has SSMU done right this year and what would you look to do differently?I think that SSMU has done a great job at revitalizing Gert’s, making it a student bar that is held in high regard by many of our students which is something that has not been in recent history. As president I would be implementing a vision, helping our team be successful. My vision is that we build community together, and we can do so by e
mpowering student athletes. Athletics is something apolitical everyone can rally around and celebrate the McGill name. Let’s create a student society that we are proud of and this is one of the opportunities in which we could bring people together.

If you were a mixed drink, what would you be?I would be a Jäger Bomb: something that is both tasty and delicious and gets you drunk real fast.

SARAH WOOLF

SARAH WOOLF

How will your past experience with SSMU influence your approach to the presidential portfolio?One of the things that the president needs to do is to always have a really strong institutional memory. That doesn’t mean you necessarily have to have been previously directly involved in order to president, but I think you have to have strong sense of SSMU, its history and how it functions, as well as McGill and how it functions. My experience has been firmly planted in all aspects of both SSMU and McGill. I think the relationships I’ve built with the administration, with other councillors, and with people on campus will help me to pursue the best interests of students.

What do you intend to do about General Assemblies?I think it’s an incredibly important institution, and I’m not ready to give up on it yet. I also recognize that, as the president, I’m not the only person with the answers about what GA reform would look like. There are so many options for what we could do to make the GA a better system.

What would be your main priorities in the Memorandum of Agreement negotiations with McGill?One of the biggest things is that the MoA and the lease are tied together. I’d like to see them separate. However, I don’t know if that will be possible. I haven’t been in our previous discussions about the MoA with the administration. What I’d like to see is more security from the administration [with respect to the Shatner Building], whether that’s a longer lease or taking over the utilities. I think the administration needs to give up more security so that we feel comfortable putting more money into it so that the building is best functioning for students.

As the only undergraduate voice on the Board of Governors, how would you work with other members to advance student concerns?I think my experience on Senate has given me a lot of [experience working with administrators]. I have no problem standing strong on student concerns. But I also know how important it is to be collaborative, to be respectful, to recognize that fundamentally we both want student life on McGill’s campus to be as strong as possible. Sometimes we just have different ideas about what that means.

What has SSMU done right this year, and what would you do differently?This year, the executive has been exceptionally strong. I’m impressed with them on a constant basis. I think Council has been weak this year. I’m still thinking about how I would try to stimulate more discussion and make it more accessible to non-councillors. I really think it’s been a strong year for SSMU and I’m looking forward to building off of it.

If you were a mixed drink, what type would you be?I think I would probably be a brown cow, because milk’s really good for you. You really could probably have it any time of day and be just fine.

SSMU Candidate Interviews

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STEFAN LINK

STEFAN LINK

How will your past experience influence your approach to the presidential portfolio? I have always been looking at the basic student services that affect the majority of people. So in the Physics Society, I knew that the math department had a really functional help desk that lots of students use and I didn’t understand why physics didn’t have a similar service, so I just wanted to start something similar for the physics people, and I did. The next thing I did was organizing a career fair. Just the basic services that I would expect to see. That was a great experience where I learned a lot about leadership, motivating people, how to deal with administration and bureaucracy. What do you plan to do about the GA?I think that it is extremely important that [students] are discussing things like Israel and Palestine and I think it is important that they have a forum for discussion. However, I do not think that McGill University as a whole should be taking a stance on issues like these, and if that is what it comes down to it should not be with three per cent of the population. I really don’t think that it has a place in the GA. I would like to have [the GA] in the gym and I would increase attendance by physically going and speaking with the departments to tell them ‘Hey there is a general assembly coming up in a month.’ What issues would you seek to advance on BoG and how would you work with other board members to accomplish them? I would like to see a big increase in approaching other private and industrial sectors to give bursaries and scholarships to the students because they have a lot of money … there are private sectors and industries that are interested in this because if they are going to succeed they are going to need the best people working for them. I would also like to push for transparency. What has SSMU done right this year and what would you do differently? They realized that they had to shut down Haven Books, which was extremely good. I think that it’s good that they did the energy audits. They did do a really good job with Gert’s compared to previous years but I still think that it can be improved a lot. I also think that one of the main things they have not done is address basic student services that you would expect to find at a University. It also only costs pennies per semester to have a 24-hour library service. We are at one of the top universities in the world, many other universities already have this service. It is very successful and so why we don’t have it is an extremely good question, especially because it costs virtually nothing. They have not addressed basic things that affect everybody everyday. If you were a type of cocktail, what would you be? Wow, that’s a tough one…sex on the beach?

TRIP YANG

TRIP YANG

How will your past experience influence your approach to the presidential portfolio?Well, one of the things I try to market about myself is that I have a diverse set of experiences. I’ve worked for the Tribune for four years. Writing news stories requires that you have an objective, impartial point of view when you’re trying to cover something. As a SSMU President it’s really important to stimulate debate, to open up discussion, and to try and encourage others to have flexible mindsets. I’m also the president of the McGill Computer Taskforce – it’s a large student-run organization within the [Science Undergraduate Society.]

What would you do to change the General Assembly?I really want to change the GA. I’ve read the editorials by the Tribune and by the Daily, and there seems to be a consensus that the current GA model doesn’t work. I want to reform the GA so that instead of holding a GA once per semester, I want to only hold it when student debate and consultation is required. I want the GA to be televised – hopefully by TVMcGill, if their referendum question passes, and they gain access to more equipment – and made into a two-part process. First, students would debate and amend motions at a GA, then after the GA has been televised and students have had a chance to watch it, the entire student body would be able to vote on the motions online.

What would be your main concerns and areas of focus during the Memorandum of Agreement negotiations with the administration?Outside of securing an acceptable, student-friendly lease for the Shatner Building, I really want to look at the potentially restrictive language surrounding student-run initiatives. Haven Books is a perfect example – $200,000 of debt in three years – and that was largely the result of not being able to advertise on campus or on SSMU Listservs.

How much of a voice do you think the president can have on the Board of Governors, and what are your plans to advance student concerns there?For undergraduates, the president is the only student representative on the BoG, so it’s imperative that the president fights for his or her constituency’s interests. At the same time, there’s a possibility of being intimidated during his or her first time at the BoG, because there are a number of high-profile administrators and businessmen that sit on the BoG. And in order for a president in his or her twenties to be taken seriously, she needs to speak professionally and convey student interests without antagonizing the rest of the members of the BoG.

What cocktail would you be?A martini, because James Bond drinks those bad boys.

ZACH NEWBURGH

ZACH NEWBURGH

How will your past experience influence your approach to the presidential portfolio?I have served as the speaker of Council both for SSMU and for EUS, so I have a great knowledge of the various faculty associations that exist on campus. I am also currently the president of Hillel Montreal, and I was the president of one of the largest North American youth movements and then the chair of an international youth movement that held conferences focussing on leadership development and social justice all across the world.

How would you address the issues surrounding the General Assembly?It’s silly for us to pretend that the GA is a democratic forum if you cannot fit five per cent of your student society in the room. There was a great idea to provide an opportunity to debate questions, and to release video and sound clips from that particular debate online. And to have the vote online so students can hear about both the pros and cons of a particular resolution as well as the opportunity to engage in direct democracy.

What would be the main things you push for in the MoA renegotiations?Some very important things should be fought for in the MoA agreement, such as the right to use the McGill logo and the name. [Also important are the] continued use of phone lines, emails, and website domains, as well as ensuring that the Students’ Society is able to operate independently and successfully.

What do you think you could practically accomplish on the Board of Governors, and how would you work with other members of the board to advance student concerns?It’s extremely important that we represent the interests of our students and as president I will certainly represent interests that are important to our students. I’ve indicated in my platform that something I’m interested in doing is increasing accessibility – providing an opportunity for students to be represented fairly and adequately.

What has SSMU done right this year and what would you look to do differently?I think that SSMU has done a great job at revitalizing Gert’s, making it a student bar that is held in high regard by many of our students which is something that has not been in recent history. As president I would be implementing a vision, helping our team be successful. My vision is that we build community together, and we can do so by empowering student
athletes. Athletics is something apolitical everyone can rally around and celebrate the McGill name. Let’s create a student society that we are proud of and this is one of the opportunities in which we could bring people together.

If you were a mixed drink, what would you be?I would be a Jäger Bomb: something that is both tasty and delicious and gets you drunk real fast.

SARAH WOOLF

SARAH WOOLF

How will your past experience with SSMU influence your approach to the presidential portfolio?One of the things that the president needs to do is to always have a really strong institutional memory. That doesn’t mean you necessarily have to have been previously directly involved in order to president, but I think you have to have strong sense of SSMU, its history and how it functions, as well as McGill and how it functions. My experience has been firmly planted in all aspects of both SSMU and McGill. I think the relationships I’ve built with the administration, with other councillors, and with people on campus will help me to pursue the best interests of students.

What do you intend to do about General Assemblies?I think it’s an incredibly important institution, and I’m not ready to give up on it yet. I also recognize that, as the president, I’m not the only person with the answers about what GA reform would look like. There are so many options for what we could do to make the GA a better system.

What would be your main priorities in the Memorandum of Agreement negotiations with McGill?One of the biggest things is that the MoA and the lease are tied together. I’d like to see them separate. However, I don’t know if that will be possible. I haven’t been in our previous discussions about the MoA with the administration. What I’d like to see is more security from the administration [with respect to the Shatner Building], whether that’s a longer lease or taking over the utilities. I think the administration needs to give up more security so that we feel comfortable putting more money into it so that the building is best functioning for students.

As the only undergraduate voice on the Board of Governors, how would you work with other members to advance student concerns?I think my experience on Senate has given me a lot of [experience working with administrators]. I have no problem standing strong on student concerns. But I also know how important it is to be collaborative, to be respectful, to recognize that fundamentally we both want student life on McGill’s campus to be as strong as possible. Sometimes we just have different ideas about what that means.

What has SSMU done right this year, and what would you do differently?This year, the executive has been exceptionally strong. I’m impressed with them on a constant basis. I think Council has been weak this year. I’m still thinking about how I would try to stimulate more discussion and make it more accessible to non-councillors. I really think it’s been a strong year for SSMU and I’m looking forward to building off of it.

If you were a mixed drink, what type would you be?I think I would probably be a brown cow, because milk’s really good for you. You really could probably have it any time of day and be just fine.

Correction: Zach Newburgh was originally quoted as saying he was the AUS speaker of council. In fact, he is the EUS speaker of council.

Referendum rundown: what you need to know before voting

News/SSMU by

Question RE: Bodily Sovereignty

This question is a toned-down version of the General Assembly motion concerning discriminatory groups, which sought to amend the Students’ Society constitution to prohibit pro-life clubs from existing.

A “Yes” vote would require SSMU to take action against groups that compromise “bodily sovereignty.” The question does not single out pro-life groups specifically, but the notion of “bodily sovereignty” has often been understood to include the right to choose.

Liam Olson-Mayes, U2 women’s studies and history, a sponsor of both the GA motion and the current question, claimed that the question is reasonable enough to be supported by Choose Life members.

Natalie Fohl, the former president of Choose Life, gave limited support to the motion.

“The notion of bodily sovereignty does not pose a problem for pro-life groups specifically,” she said “[But] we are concerned with the implications that some may use to interpret this clause.”

Question RE: McGill Tribune independence

At a Council meeting two years ago, SSMU mandated that the Tribune become an independent newspaper. This referendum question seeks to sever the legal and financial ties between the Tribune and SSMU and replace SSMU’s financial support with a three-dollar non-opt-outable fee levied to all undergraduate students. According to Tribune editors, the future of the newspaper is bleak if the referendum fails, as SSMU is not obligated to continue supporting the newspaper in future years.

Question RE: Policy on Matters External to the Society

This question makes it more difficult for a General Assembly to pass motions on “matters external to the Society’s regular activities.” It requires a quorum of 500 students to discuss such matters, two-thirds of whom must vote in favour of beginning discussion on any such motion. According to SSMU President Ivan Neilson, the question addresses the recent controversies at GAs.

Question RE: Environment Fee

If this question passes, it will renew the $1.25 opt-outable SSMU Environment Fee, which expires this semester, until the Winter 2013 semester. The SSMU Environment Fee funds environmental projects within SSMU.

“This is entirely governed by students, so we get to work to student priorities and student timelines,” said Maggie Knight, U3 environmental science and member of the question’s “Yes” committee.

Question RE: QPIRG bylaw changes

If it is approved, this question would allow the Quebec Public Interest Research Group McGill to make changes to its constitution and bylaws at an Annual General Meeting. Right now the group is only allowed to make changes by SSMU referendum. According to the “Yes” committee, this will streamline the group’s operations.

Question RE: Constitution Section Three

This question would move SSMU committee mandates to the Society’s bylaws. They are currently in Section Three of the Constitution. According to Neilson, this would update the SSMU committee structure.

“It’s really out of date, it’s really ineffective, and it doesn’t allow us to do what we’d like to do,” he said.

Question RE: Student Life Fund

This question would create a new space for SSMU’s unspent money. A “Yes” vote would place funds left over after June 1 to go into a new “Student Life Fund.” The money currently goes into the Capital Expenditures Reserve Fund (CERF), where it is no longer available to student groups.

Question Re: TVMcGill Funding

This question proposes a new $0.50 opt-outable fee to help fund TVMcGill’s operations. Executives say that the fee will provide TVMcGill with desperately needed new equipment and raise the group’s profile on campus.

Question RE: WUSC Refugee Scholarship Fund.

Students currently pay 50 cent each term to support two McGill refugee students selected by the World University Service Committee (WUSC). This question asks students to allow the committee to select deserving students from developing countries in years in which there are no qualified refugee students.

Plebiscite RE: Funding the TaCEQ

This question is non-binding, and is intended to gauge students’ support for the Round Table of Quebec Students (TaCEQ) in its quest for grants from the provincial government.

SSMU Candidate Interviews

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JOSHUA ABAKI

JOSHUA ABAKI

What has Rebecca Dooley done right this year, and what would you do differently?

One of the things she has done well is getting student opinion – for example, “The McGill We Want.” I think that’s a very important task force, because it shows the McGill administration that we are actually going out there and getting the student mandate. One thing I would like to improve on next year are the committees. I’d like to get a wider section of students sitting on [them].

What is your stance on McGill’s Research Policy?

Section 7.24 definitely needs clarification. It just says “in good faith,” so it’s not very specific and it needs to be clarified. It needs to state that if there is research that’s being conducted that is going to be particularly harmful, then McGill’s not going to support that specific research. Then there are Clauses 10 and 11, which we removed. I think these need to be put back, because these are things that groups like Demilitarize McGill worked very hard to have inserted into the Research Policy. I think it’s a step backward for McGill to remove these particular clauses from the policy.

What makes you the best candidate for the position?

I’ve had a wide variety of experiences, not only in Canada but also in Kenya. In Kenya, I was the equivalent of student union president of my high school. However I had to mandate the day-to-day activities of that particular high school since there was actually no adults. Since coming to McGill I’ve been hugely involved in student life here. So when it comes to tuition that’s something I really understand and I think I’d be in a good position to convince the McGill administration not to increase tuition.

What is your number-one priority for next year?

I want to get McGill to not just say in words that we are a student-centred university, because I think the reality proves otherwise. If the administration wants to claim that we are a student-centred university then that must be reflected in their policies.

David Lipsitz

DAVID LIPSITZ

In your opinion, what has VP University Affairs Rebecca Dooley done well this year?

She’s dealt with the larger issues on campus well. As you’re aware, for example, the research policy is something that’s been going back and forth for quite a while. Although students didn’t get exactly what they wanted, I think that the effort was there and sometimes there’s just no budging the administration.

What are your views on the research policy?

One of the main goals of various student groups on campus … was to restrict military research. The students have only won one concession from the university administration when it comes to this policy: the removal of the anonymity clause, which means that anonymous donations can no longer be made to researchers. Overall, the policy, as it stands now, is a step backward.

Are you in favour of military-funded research, or are you against it?

I’m somewhere in the middle. Military research has a place in society. That’s not to say that I’m militaristic. I certainly don’t support many of the current campaigns that are going on around the world today. At the same time, though, it is important that university students know where their money is going.

What differentiates you from the other candidates?

I’m the most experienced candidate. I’ve worked with SSMU closely – I’m the chairman of the External Affairs Committee. I’ve made reports to SSMU, discussed the issues that concern SSMU’s relationship with the Quebec government and with other student groups in Quebec. I’m also a senator. I know how the Senate caucus works. I’ve also worked with [the Arts Undergraduate Society] in the past. Basically, I’ve got all the bases covered. I’m a diplomatic person. Level-headedness is an important quality in this job.

If elected, what would be your number-one priority for next year?

My campaign has three pillars. In the tuition category, I’d work towards securing a commitment from the university not to implement a self-funded tuition model for undergraduate education. The second pillar is sustainability, particularly food sustainability on campus. The administration is working towards implementing composting facilities for their residence cafeterias. I want to expand this. The third pillar is improving the undergraduate experience. I’ve focussed on exchange programs, transfer credits, independent classes. There’s a lot of bureaucracy [in these areas]. It would be a shame not to simplify these processes.

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