On August 15, Anuradha Mallik resigned from her position as Vice-President (VP) Operations and Sustainability of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU). Mallik declined to provide the specific details of the reasoning behind her resignation, but emphasized that stepping down was a mutual agreement with the rest of the executives and that it was a consequence of discordance with the institution rather than a response to a particular individual or event.
“This afternoon, I sent in my resignation as VP Sustainability and Operations of the SSMU,” Mallik wrote in a message to The McGill Tribune on the day of her resignation. “After working at the SSMU for two and a half months, I realised the vision I had of the position was not in line with the reality of the SSMU workplace. I feel that this decision would be the most beneficial for both the SSMU and myself, and wish the best for the amazing executive team.”
At the end of the Winter 2017 semester, the previous SSMU executive team elected to give the VP Operations position the responsibility for managing sustainability efforts, and in so doing, renamed it to ‘VP Operations and Sustainability’. In addition to directing SSMU’s sustainability efforts, Mallik’s primary responsibilities included managing the usage of the SSMU building and overseeing SSMU’s revenue-generating businesses such as Gerts.
Over the course of this summer, Mallik had been working to further develop the major projects that her predecessor Sacha Magder began, including the SSMU Courtyard Garden project, Crash Pad, and the Sustainable Frosh Initiative. The Courtyard Garden project is an ongoing effort to construct a community garden behind the SSMU Building, which will provide SSMU’s food businesses with fresh produce and serve as a learning space for SSMU daycare children year-round. The Crash Pad was an initiative that provided mattresses for students to sleep safely in the SSMU ballroom during Frosh 2016, and is scheduled to return for Frosh 2017.
Another aspect of Mallik’s former portfolio, the Sustainable Frosh Initiative was originally created as a fund to cover the extra costs of faculties sourcing their t-shirts and tote bags from sustainable suppliers, allowing faculty Froshes to become more environmentally-friendly without changing their budgets. More recently, the Initiative has begun to work toward instilling a culture of eco-mindedness within Frosh, through sustainability training for Frosh staff, the distribution of pamphlets about the environment to Frosh participants, and the creation of a sustainability coordinator position within each faculty’s coordinating team.
“Honestly, I'm quite proud of how the Sustainable Frosh Initiative has panned out,” Mallik wrote. “The Sustainable Frosh Coordinator and I worked really hard together towards this project and to overcome any obstacles and I feel like it'll make a lasting impact.”
When not developing supplemental projects for Frosh such as the Crash Pad or the Sustainable Frosh Initiative, SSMU usually takes a hands-off approach towards overseeing Frosh, so Mallik’s resignation won’t have a major effect on this year’s orientation activities. Individual faculties and committees are responsible for the majority of Frosh planning, and do not typically rely on the VP Operations and Sustainability. The remaining six SSMU executives plan to divide Mallik’s responsibilities among themselves until a new VP Operations and Sustainability is selected in the upcoming semester.
“How the new VP Operations [and Sustainability] will be selected is to be determined in the fall,” SSMU President Muna Tojiboeva wrote in a message to The McGill Tribune. “I am overseeing the implementation of the various sustainability initiatives. The other tasks under the VP Operations [and Sustainability] portfolio are distributed equally among the executives.”
As the executive team adjusts to the redistribution of tasks, they remain confident in their ability to oversee their own portfolios as well, for the time being. Having been appointed to oversee all Frosh-related tasks of the VP Operations and Sustainability portfolio, SSMU VP Internal Affairs Maya Koparkar faces the most immediate challenge.
“I am overseeing frosh-related activities, specifically Crash Pad and the Sustainable Frosh project, and everything is still going according to plan without affecting any other aspects of my own portfolio,” Koparkar wrote in a message to The McGill Tribune.