See Get to know your SSMU candidates, Pt 1 for the Tribune’s interviews with the candidates
VP Clubs & Services – No (Stefan Fong)
Although he is running unopposed, the Tribune was unwilling to endorse Stefan Fong for the position of VP Clubs and Services. While he brings the perspective of somebody who has experienced the SSMU clubs & services system first-hand, Fong lacks any experience in student representation. Although he is undeniably passionate about clubs at McGill, and very aware of the challenges that students face on a regular basis, we do not find him to be qualified or prepared for this position.
Our most serious concern is Fong’s near complete lack of concrete plans or strategies. When asked about things that he would change if elected, he was quick to identify issues with SSMU’s interactions with clubs, but struggled to come up with any tangible solutions to these problems. Although he clearly has the best interests of McGill’s clubs at heart, his lack of institutional knowledge and experience may prevent him from properly guarding these interests.
Nonetheless, Fong did bring forward some good ideas for the portfolio—he wants to better use the Clubs & Services Representatives and have them engaging directly with the clubs, and is also proposing a trial budget system which would help clubs who are planning to apply for service status.
If Fong fails to achieve a majority ‘Yes’ vote, there will be another nomination and campaign period, to which he would not be disqualified from re-applying. We would see this as an opportunity for him to bring forward a stronger platform with more specific objectives, and demonstrate exactly how he plans to use his passion as an asset in this position. If not, it may provide an opportunity for someone more experienced to join the race.
VP Finance and Operations – Tyler Hofmeister
For the position of VP Finance and Operations, the Tribune endorses Tyler Hofmeister based on his extensive experience and evident enthusiasm for the job. We feel that he is very well-equipped to work closely with the other execs, and to guide SSMU through what are increasingly uncertain times.
What really sets him apart from his opponent is his direct experience managing high-level budgets, for which he was extremely accountable. With the possibility of negotiations over the SSMU building’s lease spilling over into next year, and SSMU’s tight budgetary situation, the importance of competency in this realm cannot be overstated.
Hofmeister’s experience working with McGill organizations is also an asset, both with the MUS and McMUN. His level of engagement with student life at McGill gives him the tools and perspectives necessary to best represent the interests of his fellow students in his work.
VP External – Sam Harris
Running uncontested, Samuel Harris has the Tribune’s endorsement for the position of VP External. He is running on a strong platform which looks to raise McGill students’ awareness of external groups such as TaCEQ, inform students of political issues on the provincial level that influence us in an ongoing way, and better integrate McGill into the communities around the school. Also taking into account his experience with the SSMU External Affairs Committee, we feel that Harris is a strong candidate
There were some discussions amongst our editorial board as to the implications of Harris’ own political leanings, and whether they will allow him to be representative of the student body as a whole. However, the VP External position has traditionally been a fairly political one. Robin Reid-Fraser, who currently holds the position, brought forward similar concerns from our editorial board last year, but has gone on to do a fntastic job, staying aware of the opinions around campus, and representing them faithfully. We believe that Harris will follow the precedent that she has set in this respect.
While we were not impressed with his performance at the debate, where he seemed nervous and lacking in conviction, his individual interview with us left a markedly better impression. Hopefully he will quickly grow into the role, becoming more consistent and confident in his interactions in order to represent the views and interests of more than 20,000 students.
VP University Affairs – Joey Shea
We were very impressed with both candidates for the position of VP University Affairs. Gregory and Shea each hold impressive lists of qualifications for the job, and both have assembled comprehensive platforms that place an emphasis on positive but effective relations with the administration, and renewed efforts towards student engagement. Both are personable and approachable, and we truly feel that either candidate would be well-equipped to serve the students of McGill for the coming year.
However, thanks in part to her ambitions to do more with the UA portfolio than has been seen in the past, the Tribune’s endorsement goes to Joey Shea. Her plans to work closely with the VP External to build continuity in SSMU’s interactions with the administration and its partners outside of the university are impressive. We also believe Shea’s past experience working with administrators will prove to be an asset, especially in a year where multiple high-level personnel changes at McGill could present an opportunity to reinvent the students’ relationship with the administration.
With that said, we also hope to see Gregory continue to work with SSMU, and look forward to his candidacy in future elections. In this campaign, he has proven himself as a true contender with good ideas and a strong work ethic. As he is only completing his second year at McGill, we feel that with a little more experience, he will be an invaluable member of a future year’s executive team.
VP Internal – Julia Kryluk (with reservations)
The Tribune endorses Julia Kryluk, with reservations. Her spirited enthusiasm, and her vision of an inclusive Frosh are both very strong points of her platform. We also greatly support her ideas for the communications aspect of the job, including a greater amount of communication with SSMU’s clubs and services, and ensuring that their announcements are heard, through the creation of a comprehensive, user-friendly, and accessible events calendar. The latter of these has been discussed for years, and we urge Kryluk, if elected, to see this initiative through.
While she does have extensive experience planning and carrying out events, we are not convinced that Kryluk is fully prepared for the high-level nature of the position, including the level of crisis management skills that will be required of her. Since the most demanding part of the VP Internal’s job takes place right at the beginning of the year, there is very little time to acclimatize.
As for Brian Farnan, his Simplify McGill initiative, although a noble objective, doesn’t seem entirely thought through. We were not convinced of its feasibility, and the way in which it would be practically implemented was unclear. One very good idea that his platform does identify is the establishment of an Equity Chair who would be consulted in the planning process of all events, and given the opportunity to identify concerns in matters relating to equity.
Finally, we were disappointed to see that neither candidate has a concrete plan for SSMU’s listserv communications, which are in desperate need of an update.
President – Chris Bangs (with reservations)
After lengthy discussion and consideration, through much of which our editorial board was almost evenly split, the Tribune endorses Chris Bangs for President of SSMU, with reservations. We see Bangs as a nearly ideal candidate, with extensive experience in SSMU, and exceptional organizational skills. Most of all, we commend his clear vision for McGill, his detailed and specific platform, and the passion he puts into everything does.
This passion, however, is also the source of our reservations. Through his highly visible social activism over the past few years, Bangs put himself at odds with both the administration in the past, with his involvement in the Independent Student Inquiry into the events of Nov. 10, 2011, the website McGilliLeaked, and most recently, Divest McGill. We hope that he will make concerted efforts not to further distance himself from the administration, and that any past tensions will be put aside by both sides in favour of a constructive working relationship.
Bangs has also seen criticism from students, especially regarding a video recorded a year ago that has recently surfaced, showing him and other students interrupting a class in protest of the planned tuition hikes. Should he get the position of president, Bangs will need to actively demonstrate that he is representing the collective interests of McGill students, and not just advancing his own political goals. As for his actions in the video, we hope that he will hold himself to a higher standard as an elected representative.
We have seen Bangs go to great lengths in the past to support causes he believes in. Assuming that he is able to put aside his personal views and do what is right for students, we feel that having such a devoted individual working tirelessly to realize his vision of equitability and sustainability is something that can only be good for SSMU.
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