Shyam Patel is the ideal candidate in this year’s election for VP finance and operations. Patel, the current SSMU funding coordinator, has the requisite background and expertise to make a successful VP finance, which is perhaps one of the most difficult portfolios in SSMU.
In his current position Patel has worked extensively with this year’s VP finance, Nick Drew, and has lain solid groundwork for a tenure as VP. Any frequent visitors to the SSMU office know that Patel is a ubiquitous presence. He is a diligent, committed, and organized worker.
Patel seeks this position fully aware of the challenges involved, and he is refreshingly honest about what it will take for the Society to meet them. Regarding the renovation of Gert’s, Patel urges students to be patient and to recognize that working with the university is a painfully slow but necessary process. He is also worried about who will pay for the summer 2012’s Gert’s renovations, since only half of the cost is currently accounted for.
Patel is similarly honest about the slow process involved in turning the SSMU Book Bazaar into a solely online endeavour. The idea is to create a “safe space” in which students can sell anything they want, furniture as well as books. His pledge to never get bogged down in anything similar to the failed Haven Books demonstrates an ability to learn from the mistakes of his predecessors.
A major part of the VP finance portfolio is dealing with SSMU’s investments and managing them in a simultaneously shrewd and ethical manner. Patel is professional and knowledgeable, and has repeatedly articulated his commitment to ethical investments. His plans to redirect some of the society’s investments from larger, potentially problematic corporations to smaller businesses are laudable, as is his desire to revamp the Financial Ethics Research Committee (FERC).
One of Patel’s more interesting proposals is to make the position of VP finance more visible on the SSMU political landscape. He wants to get more involved in the funding of clubs and services, and intends to meet with clubs to explain operations and how they can use Gert’s to their advantage. Patel cites as his first priority streamlining the funding of clubs, in the belief that the Society’s profits should go to benefit its own constitutive groups.
Patel’s opponent, Stefan Prokopetz, inspires less confidence than Patel. His last minute entry into the race and paucity of serious promotional material contrast sharply with Patel’s constant planning and grounded campaign materials. Prokopetz also lacks Patel’s intimate knowledge of SSMU, which is necessary for the position. Especially given the competition, the learning curve for Prokopetz may simply be too steep.
Drew has done an able job steering the society into a profitable and ethical future. Shyam Patel is the best imaginable candidate to receive that legacy and to continue moving forward.