(Esteban Herpin)

SSMU VP Finance By-Election Endorsement

Editorial/Opinion by

Esteban Herpin, U3 Finance with a double minor in Economics and Political Science, is running unopposed for the office of Vice-President (VP) Finance of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU), following the resignation of Arisha Khan in November 2017. Herpin was formerly a member of the Management Undergraduate Society’s (MUS) Corporate Relations team, where he negotiated and drafted legal agreements and oversaw MUS accounts, and was previously a member of SSMU’s Francophone Affairs Committee.

Herpin’s platform involves increasing financial transparency, improving access to club funding, emphasizing sustainable investments, and reaffirming SSMU’s responsibility to positively impact students in lieu of perpetuating political divisiveness. Herpin hopes to alleviate the strain that the University Centre’s scheduled closure has placed on clubs and independent student groups (ISGs), and to increase funding for SSMU’s mental health resources. He also plans to reduce expenditures in SSMU’s operating budget.

Endorsement: Yes, with reservations

The McGill Tribune endorses Herpin’s candidacy, but with significant reservations. Many of his platform promises are well-intentioned and identify important issues. Financial transparency has been historically imperfect at SSMU; the society failed to produce its 2016-2017 budget report. Applications for club funding are lengthy and convoluted, discouraging clubs and ISGs from pursuing essential funding. Despite SSMU’s attempts to provide interim accommodation, many clubs and ISGs remain vulnerable to the costs of the University Centre’s upcoming closure. Herpin has had firsthand experience with club funding applications and intends to streamline the process.

Although Herpin’s platform reflects general student demands, he has failed to outline concrete plans to achieve them. He did not specify which components of club funding should be simplified, nor did he specify which SSMU expenditures or investments to cut, despite having an interest in lower student costs. It is also unclear what capacity the VP Finance has to alleviate the costs of the building closure. In addition, Herpin did not meet with the returning SSMU executives prior to his campaign.

Should Herpin be elected as VP Finance, he may pursue a positive and constructive agenda, help alleviate the workload on other executives, and fulfill important tasks, such as setting the 2018-2019 budget. However, his lack of concrete plans and knowledge of the VP Finance portfolio mean that there will be a significant learning curve during his short four-month tenure if elected. It is essential that he develop a more robust set of solutions to the issues outlined in his platform in order to have the greatest impact on SSMU.