Darshan Daryanani, U3 Arts, has extensive experience in student government, currently serving as an Arts Senator and a member of 14 different SSMU, AUS, or university-level committees. He also previously served as AUS VP External, Arts Representative to SSMU, and Senate Caucus Representative. As the pandemic continues to restrict on-campus life, one of Daryanani’s top priorities, if elected, is to ensure the successful reopening of student-centred infrastructure and services, such as the University Centre and Gerts Bar, and implement spaces dedicated to prayer and spirituality. Daryanani hopes to reconfigure SSMU’s current system for institutional memory: Instead of relying on the static documentation of SSMU’s past motions and initiatives—such as exit reports—he hopes to maintain active communication with past SSMU executives to ensure the continuity of major projects from year to year.
Mark Morrison, U2 Science, has no SSMU experience, but is confident that his industry-related work in sustainable development will make up for it. Morrison believes that his practical experience in the workforce allows him to better connect with McGill students, and would help him bring a new perspective to SSMU. Morrison hopes to overhaul SSMU’s governing structure and governing documents. His platform revolves around student advocacy and inclusivity, and emphasizes that SSMU’s number one job is to advocate for students. Morrison also plans on improving McGill’s relationships with Indigenous groups in Montreal and ensuring the university couples symbolic gestures such as land acknowledgements with tangible action to support marginalized groups.
Jake Reed, U2 Engineering, currently serves as the Engineering Undergraduate Society (EUS) representative on SSMU Legislative Council and previously sat on the EUS Board of Governors and the EUS Governance Review Committee. Additionally, Reed was the dispatch coordinator for the Montreal Students for COVID-19 Response and Relief initiative. Reed’s platform emphasizes student advocacy and safety; notably, they promise to bring legal insurance coverage to every SSMU member and implement outcome-focussed advocacy measures within SSMU. Reed intends to advocate for continued hybrid learning during the Fall 2021 semester.
Jake Reed’s experience with student government and holistic approach to the reopening of campus make them an excellent fit for SSMU President. Morrison lacks any practical experience in governance as well as the institutional knowledge to succeed as president, and Daryanani’s campaign goals, such as a mySSMU app and Welcome Back concert, seem to lack feasibility and cohesion given the circumstances of the pandemic. Reed’s commitment to strengthening SSMU’s standing with the university administration will be invaluable amid the uncertainty of the Fall 2021 semester; as McGill returns to in-person activities, SSMU requires a dedicated president to help lead the executive team into this uncharted territory. This emphasis on student advocacy and support, however, means that Reed must make up ground in engaging students in SSMU affairs.
Claire Downie, U3 Arts, brings a plethora of experience to her candidacy for VP University Affairs (UA). Downie has served as SSMU’s menstrual products coordinator and SSMUnion recording secretary. Beyond SSMU, she has also collaborated with the Union for Gender Empowerment (UGE) in her capacity as the menstrual products coordinator, and has also been involved with Montreal Student Initiative for COVID-19 Response and Relief. Her central campaign priority is to ensure that the resumption of in-person activities in Fall 2021 will be safe and accessible for all students. Downie also hopes to re-establish compensation for Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD) notetakers, increase the availability of menstrual products on campus, improve library services, and send out listserv recaps of governance meetings to better engage students within SSMU.
Neel Soman, U3 Arts, is running on a platform covering several issues related to student accessibility. Although he has little SSMU experience, he has been involved in many student groups, including McGill’s Figure Skating Team, and has served on Inter-Residence Council. As a self-identified queer person of colour, Neel believes his unique lived experiences will help him advocate for marginalized students. Soman’s platform includes ensuring a safe return to in-person classes, extending the S/U option for at least another semester, updating McGill’s policies on sexual violence, and improving access to services for Francophone students. He also plans to introduce an Asian Affairs Commissioner to SSMU.
Both candidates have demonstrated a strong understanding of the scope and responsibilities of the VP UA portfolio. However, as the VP UA represents student interests at almost all levels of university governance, Downie’s previous SSMU experience gives her an advantage in student advocacy. Soman’s lack of formal SSMU experience is particularly concerning, as next year's VP UA term will be tasked with navigating the transition back to in-person academic activities. Even so, Downie's near-exclusive focus on COVID-19 safety and accessibility for Fall 2021 neglects other priorities concerning equity. Beyond intentions to support the OSD and increase menstrual product accessibility, Downie had few ideas on inclusivity initiatives.
Karle Heisele Cubilla, U2 Arts, has served as an executive on the Spanish and Latin American Students’ Association (SLASA) for the past two years as VP Events and VP Projects, an experience she feels has helped her to understand the challenges facing student groups. If elected, she will prioritize mental health initiatives, family care, and establish certifiable workshops to enhance student resumes. To help lessen the burden on SSMU’s family care services, which currently subject parents to long wait times, Heisele Cubilla has an ambitious plan to institute a volunteer program where students could gain experience working with the daycare. Heisele Cubilla intends to continue initiatives, like the WellnessWorld portal, developed by her predecessor Makheen Akter.
Heisele Cubilla’s commitment to supporting McGill’s student body is clear. Having immigrated to Canada independently and started CEGEP without a strong Montreal support network, she understands the importance of community involvement. Heisele Cubilla hopes to help other McGill students facing similar experiences due to isolation caused by the pandemic. While she may lack direct SSMU experience, her work with SLASA along with her role as recruitment director for Alpha Phi McGill will surely help her to thrive as VP Student Life.
Éric Sader, U3 Arts, is an economics major and math minor. He has experience managing finances as the deputy head delegate of the McGill Model United Nations Delegation Team, where he also oversaw equity, logistics, and budget coordination. If elected, he hopes to work closely with the VP External to advocate for the regulation of international student tuition fees. Sader also plans to implement reforms to SSMU’s five-year plan for the consolidation of student fees, incorporate bilingualism into the finance portfolio, and improve transparency of financial matters within SSMU. Further, Sader will continue to support the push for McGill to divest from harmful investments and hopes to work with the Financial Ethics Review Committee to prioritize investments in progressive companies instead.
Aside from Sader’s clear enthusiasm for numbers, his experience as deputy head delegate of the Model United Nations Delegation Team demonstrates his qualifications for VP Finance. It is clear that Sader understands the logistical nature of the finance portfolio, has the knowledge to support crucial student services, and will ensure student fees are allocated efficiently. His emphasis on increasing transparency and student involvement will inform students on finance portfolio operations as well as the direction of McGill’s funding. His plans to reinforce bilingualism as one of SSMU’s core values will also make SSMU more accessible to Francophone students.
Sarah Paulin, U1 Arts, has several leadership experiences that include serving as a Model UN club executive in CEGEP, a Secretariat member for the Secondary Schools United Nations Symposium (SSUNS), a member of the governing board for the Classics Students’ Association (CSA). Paulin values effective and transparent communication, both amongst SSMU executives and with the student body. Her platform emphasizes transparency with students regarding safety as they return to in-person classes and activities next year. She also believes that the Francophone Affairs portfolio has been neglected in recent years, and would like it to assume higher priority during her term. In regards to organizing Frosh activities, Paulin plans to create more alternatives that depart from the typical drinking culture.
Paulin shows clear willingness and flexibility to adapt in this role. She has many new and intriguing ideas for a safe return to in-person activities, such as providing a clear timeline of events, and expressed eagerness to support students during the transition. Additionally, her clear desire to help all McGill students feel connected to SSMU and the Society’s work is admirable. However, despite her leadership roles, Paulin is still a first-year student, and without experiencing on-campus life, successfully undertaking a major transition will be challenging. Paulin would also be filling a currently vacant seat, meaning she will have no predecessor to help her transition into the role.
Sacha Delouvrier, U2 Arts, is the director of outreach and student engagement for the International Relations Students’ Association (IRSAM) and has held other leadership positions on organizations such as SSUNS. His platform centers on three main priorities: Ensuring a safe return to in-person classes, supporting local organizations like Meals for Milton Parc and The Yellow Door, and improving advocacy for marginalized groups. As a Francophone student, Delouvrier plans to work extensively with Francophone Affairs and ensure French alternatives of documentation are available. If elected, he hopes to expand upon previous projects such as SSMU’s initiative for housing advocacy by incorporating the currently absent external portfolio into SSMU’s five-year plan and building strong relationships with the executive team.
Delouvrier is an experienced leader who has already established a working relationship with the current VP External Ayo Ogunremi, and demonstrates a sincere willingness to learn. He has promising ideas for developing a relationship between McGill students and the Milton Parc community. He also advocates for Francophone Affairs and hopes to provide job-focused French classes and coordinate the translation of more SSMU documents––both of which Francophone students have been demanding. However, Sacha lacks practical experience in activism at McGill, which could impede his ability to effectively engage with the advocacy duties of the role.
In order to present the most informed endorsement decisions possible, our editors conducted Zoom interviews with all of the candidates and examined each platform in detail. This research was followed by an Editorial Board meeting to discuss candidates and vote on who to endorse, and whether we had any major reservations regarding their candidacy. In order to earn the Tribune’s endorsement, a candidate had to receive a majority vote. Reservations could also be appended to any “Yes” endorsement with the approval of a majority of editors. There was also a disclosure process for any conflicts of interests and editors who have personal relationships with the candidates were ineligible to vote.
In the spirit of transparency and as a matter of upholding The McGill Tribune’s credibility, we feel it imperative to make the process behind these decisions public. Should you have questions or concerns about our editorial process—or its outcomes—please send us an email at [email protected]
Erratum: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Claire Downie, candidate for the position of VP University Affairs, worked for the Union for Gender Empowerment (UGE). In fact, she collaborated with this organization in her capacity as the SSMU menstrual products coordinator. The Tribune regrets this error.