All You Need to Know to Get Informed and Vote in the SSMU Elections
In the midst of midterms, papers, and Faculty Olympics, not everyone has had time to stay up to date on student politics, but worry no more! The Bull & Bear has put together a handy cheat sheet to help you get informed. We’ll let you know what the positions are, what they do, and who is running for them.
The SSMU president is the leader of the executive team and spokesperson for the McGill student society. In their role, the president is responsible for the organization’s governance and accountability, and advocates for policies in the McGill Senate and the Board of Directors. The president sits on the Legislative Council, Human Resources Committee, the Executive Committee and coordinates the Faculty President’s Roundtable. There are three students running for the position: Helen Ogundeji, Muna Tojiboeva, and Lukas Shannon.
Helen Ogundeji is a U3 Sociology student running to be SSMU president with the campaign slogan “lean back.” Her goal is to provide an environment where SSMU executives can take care of the university’s operations without students needing to worry about the latest scandal. In the candidates debate she promised she would be a president who understands her executives, their motivations, and provides clear expectations against which they can be judged. Her goals include increasing the level of representation for undergraduate students, ensuring that student opinions are heard, increasing representation for students who belong to minority groups including ethnic, racial, religious, queer, and trans students, as well as creating counselling programs for racialized students. Ogundeji’s experience includes serving as president of the Sociology Students’ Association, Secretary General of the AUS, chair of the SSMU Equitable Governance Reform Committee, and VP Internal of the Black Students’ Network. Ogundeji’s entire platform can be found on her Facebook event here.
Muna Tojiboeva is a U3 Political Science and Sociology student who is running to restore trust between SSMU and its constituents. To do so, she wants to increase mental health services, create a sexual violence policy, and promote francophone interests on campus. To accomplish these tasks, she wants SSMU to prioritize building a better relationship between itself and the McGill administration. In addition, Tojiboeva wants to promote accountability by posting meeting minutes on the SSMU website, having a week dedicated to francophone issues on campus, and providing services to ease the transition from Francophone to Anglophone education systems. Over the past three years, Tojiboeva has acted as Chief Justice on the Judicial Board, as President of the Sociology Students’ Association and Chair of UN Women McGill. She has also acted as VP internal of the AUS Environmental Council and Inter-Campus Outreach Coordinator of SSMU’s Environment Committee. Tojiboeva’s entire campaign platform can be found on her Facebook event here.
Lukas Shannon is a U2 Computer Science and Biology student who wants to be the outsider’s voice representing students within SSMU. He is concerned about the very low levels of student engagement campus politics, and wants to uncover and address the concerns of the students who do not participate in the political process. To hold fellow executives accountable, Shannon will establish a clear set of expectations, and promote high standards of professionalism within the society. To advance student interests, he believes that SSMU must create stronger coalitions with professors, teachers, and other political groups to advocate for their shared interests. Shannon wants to promote the French language among Anglophone students to bridge the language barrier between students and promote a greater sense of community. Shannon is new to student politics, and has not yet held a role within student government. His entire campaign platform can be found on his Facebook event here.
POSITION: VP University Affairs
The VP University Affairs is responsible for coordinating university representation, providing leadership on equity programming in addition to monitoring advocacy and complaints. The executive will sit on, coordinate and over see the Equity Committee, the Mental Health Committee, the Library Improvement Fund Committee, and serve as the Equity Officer. There are two candidates for the position: Alexander Dow, and Isabelle Oke.
Alexander Dow is a U3 Civil Engineering student running for VP University Affairs. In this position, Dow hopes to commit himself to ensuring that students are being listened to. His goals include listening to different voices, and confronting mobility issues on campus, especially with respect to the ongoing construction. Additionally, Dow wants to improve awareness of the Library Improvement Fund Committee so it can do a better job consulting with students and improve library spaces for all students. By listening and addressing important issues, Dow hopes to reverse the erosion of trust between students and their student government. His experience includes working as the representative for the Engineering Faculty on the McGill University Senate and serving on the EUS Council. Dow’s campaign platform can be found on his Facebook event here.
Isabelle Oke is a U3 Political Science and Linguistics students that is running for the position of VP University Affairs. She believes that high overhead fees are a major barrier to SSMU’s success, limit the services it can offer, and make it harder for students with financial difficulties to get ahead. Oke wants to improve mental health among students by: finding ways to limit the stress students face in the classroom, implementing a strong sexual assault policy, and working to promote the safety of marginalized groups on campus. Oke is the sitting president of the Black Students Networks and in her third year as a floor fellow at Carrefour Sherbrooke where she has represented Floor Fellows in their ongoing labour dispute with McGill administration. These responsibilities have led her to work closely with McGill’s Human Resources department giving her substantive experience with McGill administration. Oke’s campaign platform can be found on her Facebook event here.
POSITION: VP Internal Affairs
The VP Internal Affairs oversees SSMU’s outreach activities, communications, and events. The executive is responsible for sending regular listservs, overseeing social media, and organizing popular events like 4Floors. There is only one candidate for the position: Maya Koparkar.
Maya Koparkar is a third-year International Development and Political Science student. She wants to create smaller, more personal, events around campus to create a better sense of community. In addition, she seeks to make the listservs more relatable, play a more important role in organizing frosh, and promote campus engagement among first-year students. Koparkar believes that fun and inclusive events can make SSMU more relatable, and create a more cohesive student body. Koparkar’s online platform can be on her Facebook event here. She cited her experience as the current Internal Logistics Coordinator (ILC) for SSMU, and her work as a member of the Students Society Programming Network (SSPN) as relevant experience for the position of VP Internal.
POSITION: VP External Affairs
The VP external affairs coordinates SSMU’s relationship with municipal, provincial, and federal governments, as well as organizes political campaigns and community affairs. Current campaigns overseen by the VP External include Anti-Austerity, Climate Justice, Divest McGill, and Demilitarize McGill. The executive also sits on the Francophone Affairs and Indigenous Affairs committees. There is only one candidate for VP External: Connor Spencer.
Connor Spencer is a German Language and Literature, World Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, and Art History Student who has worked closely with the VP External in the past to help her social and environmental advocacy. As VP External, her goals would include increasing accessibility, working closely with groups within the university, implementing a sexual violence policy, and using her platform to create a dialogue beyond the McGill community. Spencer believes SSMU should push for the protection of student rights, and promote free education. She wants to see Francophone and Indigenous affairs play a bigger role in her portfolio, and is keen on opening a dialogue at McGill to better understand the concerns these groups have. Spencer has advocacy experience working with McGill Against Austerity, and her campaign platform can be found on her Facebook page here.
NOTE: The other candidate for VP External Affairs withdrew their candidacy after being censured by Elections SSMU for making an inappropriate comment about sexual violence.
POSITION: VP Finance
The VP Finance oversees SSMU’s finances, and has responsibilities that include setting the annual budget, performing budget revisions, chairing the Finance Committee, and overseeing the SSMU’s student health plan. This executive is expected to work closely with Human Resources and the SSMU President to ensure good staff relations, and a strong financial standing. The only candidate for VP Finance is Arisha Khan.
Arisha Khan is the only candidate running for VP Finance, and has experience working with the SSMU client’s portfolio, as a vending commissioner, and has helped build a $450 million provincial funding model to address child and youth mental health. She believes that SSMU should restructure to keep their costs in control and promote financial sustainability. Her experience includes working as a Finance and Operations Assistant, a SSMU Funding Commissioner, the SSMU representative on the McGill Innovation Steering Committee, and advocating for solutions to the low high school graduation rates from the foster care system. Khan’s platform can be found on her Facebook page here.
POSITION: VP Operations
The VP Operations oversees Gerts and Sadie’s cafeteria on the second floor of the SSMU building. They work alongside McGill’s permanent staff to ensure the SSMU building operates well, in addition to supervising the Sustainability Portfolio. The only candidate for the position is Anuradha Mallik.
Anuradha Mallik is a U2 Computer Science and Music student at McGill who wants to work with Gerts and Sadie’s to generate more revenue and better utilize the SSMU building. Her goals include recreating the environmental roundtable, developing better sustainability policies in collaboration with the McGill Office of Sustainability, and reworking the management of SSMU mini-courses. To increase the revenue generated by Sadie’s and Gerts, Mallik aims to engage with vendors and permanent staff about improving business strategies. Mallik has experience on the Logistics Committee of SSUNS and working as a Floor Fellow in residences. Her campaign platform can be found here.
POSITION: VP Student Life
The VP Student Life is responsible for managing the over 230 clubs, 15 services, and 14 student groups in the McGill community. The executive ensures that the appropriate structures are in place to ensure that clubs can be runpropoerly, and sits on the Club Committee, the Funding Committee, the Mental Health Committee, and chairs the Services Review Committee. The only candidate for the position is Jemark Earle.
Jemark Earle is a U2 student studying saxophone performance who is running to be VP student life. He wants to push to make sure that SSMU executives are trained in Mental Health First Aid, and promote dialogue about sexual violence. He wants to collaborate with McGill Athletics, TVM, and student leaders to raise awareness about language that is offensive to particular groups, and aims to normalize the use of different gender pronouns. Earle’s experience includes working as a Floor Fellow at RVC for the past two years, and as the VP Health and Athletics for the Music Undergraduate Student Association. Earle’s campaign platform can be found on his Facebook event here.