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Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Executive Midterm Reviews

News/Opinion/SSMU by

Tre Mansdoerfer, President

Though the executive team faced a significant obstacle this year with the closure of the SSMU building, under Mansdoerfer’s leadership,  they have addressed this problem effectively by relocating clubs and securing a lease on 680 Sherbrooke for student use. His continued work on governance reform, a fall reading week, and the expansion of the Health and Dental plan show that Mansdoerfer has kept an eye to his major campaign promises. SSMU’s new partnership with Nimbus Tutoring and work on a new food security program demonstrate a willingness to engage in new projects on top of addressing pertinent issues. During the Fall, Mansdoerfer has proven his ability to problem-solve, facilitate projects across the society, and build an effective executive team.

Matthew McLaughlin, VP Internal Affairs

Matthew McLaughlin ran on an ambitious platform, which remains largely unfulfilled. The launch of a centralized calendar for McGill events, the first SSMU town hall, and bi-weekly video updates have all been scheduled for Winter 2019, suggesting that McLaughlin may have underestimated the complexity of these projects. Furthermore, addressing the fallout of the $10,000 transit mishap at SSMU’s Children of the Corn Halloween party has consumed time and money that could have been spent implementing campaign promises. However, McLaughlin has been successful in working with other SSMU representatives to create new event planning policies and oversight. He has also made his position’s programming more inclusive and accessible, coordinating activities such as the dry laser-tag event during Frosh Week, which drew 150 students. McLaughlin has also doubled the number of First-Year Council representatives, allowing them to host events more regularly.

Jun Wang, VP Finance

Jun Wang has focused on overseeing the bank transition from Scotiabank to RBC and increasing the financial literacy of club executives and students in the first half of his term. The bank transfer has consumed most of his time, forcing him to neglect other campaign promises such as socially-responsible and green investing, which Wang missed the opportunity to address following Senate’s motion to support divestment from fossil fuels.The bank transition means that all transactions will occur online, streamlining the process of distributing funds to clubs and allowing them easy access to their finances. Wang and club executives cited poor communication as the biggest challenge during the bank transition. Additionally,  clubs were unable to access their accounts during the ‘blackout’ period of the transition, leaving some without funds to hold events. The transition will be complete during the next VP Finance’s term. Wang is delivering on his campaign promise to increase students’ financial literacy by preparing a comprehensive document on SSMU’s finances that is accessible to all students. Wang expects this project to be ready next semester.

Jacob Shapiro, VP University Affairs

Jacob Shapiro campaigned on a platform of continuity, creativity, and community. Most notably, Shapiro has followed through on his promise to advocate for a revision of the S/U grading system, allowing students to switch their pass or fail mark to a letter grade later in the semester. Less successful was Shapiro’s overhaul of existing SSMU mechanisms such as abolishing the academic roundtable of faculty VP Academics which he replaced with one-on-one meetings. These changes have severely limited his bureaucratic capability and accessibility. In positioning himself as the centre of all academic affairs, he has hindered his own ability to act effectively. Despite Shapiro’s promises to prioritize existing UA projects, there has been little continuation of the previous VP UA Isabella Oke’s projects such as the Know Your Rights campaign. Next term, Shapiro should focus on advocating for students’ academic rights with initiatives like his efforts concerning the S/U mandate.

Sophia Esterle, VP Student Life

As VP Student Life, Esterle’s portfolio includes coordinating student clubs and services, arranging family care programs, and promoting mental health outreach. Esterle remains committed to her campaign promise of promoting mental wellness on campus: In collaboration with SSMU Mental Health, Esterle organized SSMU’s second annual Mental Illness Awareness Week and has attempted to extend additional support to students living in residence through initiatives such as Draw & Discuss, which she hosted in collaboration with Rez Life. Additionally, she organized a successful Fall Activities Night, at the Tomlinson Fieldhouse and drew record attendance. Esterle’s most significant accomplishment has been handling the additional responsibility of overseeing club relocation during the SSMU building closure. Under her leadership, university groups have been relocated to spaces near the Downtown campus and in academic buildings.

 

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