Editorial, Opinion

Students’ Society of McGill University Executive Midterm Reviews 2021-2022

Darshan Daryanani, president 

Darshan Daryanani’s time as president is difficult to evaluate due to his absence from every SSMU Legislative Council meeting of the Fall 2021 term and from all Board of Directors meetings since Oct. 7. Daryanani did continue to play minor roles on other committees, including McGill’s Centraide Campaign committee, but his attendance at these committees does not excuse his absence from SSMU. Before his absence, Daryanani claims to have accomplished several things, including supporting advocacy for the Every Child Matters march, reopening of the SSMU University Centre, and advocating for student interests at McGill’s Board of Governors and Senate. Many of these accomplishments, however, can be attributed to the work of other executives and activists. Moreover, Daryanani has been absent from every Senate meeting since the Sept. 22 meeting. Students have been left in the dark about Daryanani’s absence, and his leave has meant that the five other executives have been burdened with taking on the extra work under his portfolio.

Claire Downie, vice-president University Affairs 

Claire Downie’s priority throughout her campaign last spring was pushing the McGill administration to ensure safety and accessibility in its return to campus. In line with that goal, Downie organized a protest on campus on the first day of classes, alongside VP External Sacha Delouvrier. While symbolically powerful, the demonstration drew in very few students and came across as somewhat poorly executed. However, she did help secure better academic accommodations for students through her work with the Senate Ad-Hoc committee for COVID-19 Academic Planning. Given the potential risk that the Omicron variant poses, she plans to remain vigilant over the coming months in ensuring the university is held accountable. Beyond COVID-19 concerns, Downie has worked to expand SSMU’s menstrual product service by allowing students to anonymously request packages of pads and tampons, and has also collaborated with students protesting Bill 2 and Bill 21. Despite a successful first half of her ongoing term, Downie should devote more time to collaborating with portfolios like Black Affairs and Indigenous Affairs going forward. 

Sarah Paulin, vice-president Internal

Sarah Paulin’s term has been a mixed bag. To her credit, Paulin has done an admirable job reforming many of SSMU’s committees; in particular, she has changed the mandate of the Francophone Affairs Committee to focus more on advocacy, rather than just event planning. She also successfully pulled off the Halloween Bar Crawl during COVID-19, implementing appropriate safety measures. However, Paulin has made several crucial mistakes that have undermined her credibility. In particular, her vague, lackluster email in response to The McGill Daily’s Sept. 22 “Sexism and Silence in SSMU” article was a disappointment. She also wrote unprofessional emails to journalists at the Daily, telling them to desist from contacting employees. Overall, Paulin’s poorly communicated effort to enforce SSMU’s confidentiality policy has drawn concern from both SSMU employees and campus media. Going forward, she would benefit from consulting more closely with the staff under her portfolio if she wants to fulfill her campaign promise of making SSMU a more transparent organization.

Karla Heisele Cubilla, vice-president Student Life 

With this semester’s return to campus, the Student Life portfolio was set to see a revival. However, Karla Heisele Cubilla navigated her first term somewhat unsuccessfully. Unfortunately, Heisele Cubilla’s Fall 2021 Virtual Activities Night was not well executed. Hosted on the virtual platform Gather.town, the event crashed shortly after launching. Though Heisele Cubilla successfully pulled off the Activities Night “after hours” party at Muzique, the failure of the previous event left many student clubs and organizations with a sour taste in their mouth. Heisele Cubilla’s decision to host a second hybrid Activities Night was welcomed, though the virtual component still experienced technical difficulties for the first 45 minutes. Although she demonstrated great enthusiasm toward in-person events, she prioritized them to the detriment of the two other major pillars of the Student Life mandate: Mental health and family care. Heisele Cubilla did complete a handful of projects this term, such as creating Microsoft Teams portals for student engagement, facilitating workshops, and conducting an analysis on the current mental health framework, but her progress on some of the more substantive action items remains unclear.

Sacha Delouvrier, vice-president External 

Sacha Delouvrier ran his campaign on three main points: Governance and political affairs, advocacy, and community engagement. As mentioned earlier, Delouvrier’s execution of the Protest for a Safe and Accessible McGill Campus in conjunction with Downie was unengaging. Delouvrier’s efforts in advocacy and community engagement have centred on the Royal Victoria Hospital site, where he oversaw the creation of a public consultation memoir and participated in a public hearing supporting the non-privatization of the location. Ultimately, much of Delouvrier’s student-facing work has been limited to very specific projects, and he has not been particularly successful in engaging students or building community networks. Delouvrier should consider taking a more balanced and transparent approach when it comes to campus engagement to achieve more for the McGill community.

Éric Sader, vice-president Finance 

The finance portfolio is arguably concerned mostly with administrative day-to-day tasks, though previous finance executives took on additional initiatives. As it is, Éric Sader seems to be on top of his duties and has made an effort at increasing transparency in his portfolio. Much of his platform revolved around his fee consolidation plan, a project spearheaded by his predecessor, which is now beginning consultations. One notable highlight was Sader’s decision to transfer the Awards of Distinction into more profitable investments, which will at least double the bursaries offered this year. However, it does not appear that he has followed through on his campaign promise to translate financial statements and budgets into French. Sader’s performance is most lacking when it comes to clubs. His communication with clubs and organizations has been subpar at best, even when they faced delays obtaining access to their bank accounts. In addition, he has yet to give most clubs their allotted credit cards. In the coming months, he should remember that transparency is not only about making financial documents accessible, but about being accessible to students. 

A previous version of this article stated that Daryanani helped re-open Gerts Campus Bar. In reality, he played a negligible role. The Tribune regrets this error.

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