On January 12, Elections SSMU held a Questions and Answers period to introduce Esteban Herpin, the sole candidate for the upcoming Vice President Finance by-election. The session began with a description of Herpin’s platform, which is based on transparency, increased funding for clubs, and new investment strategies. Questions from the SSMU Executive and the membership followed.
Herpin explained that he sees previous SSMU financial records as nontransparent. As such, if elected, he aims to publish a budget and to present it “in a way that’s understandable to the average member.” Herpin stated that he intends to publish budget provisions by February of this year and produce a final report in April 2018. One SSMU member noted that the previous three Vice Presidents Finance cited transparency as a key pillar of their platforms, yet none followed through on making financial records easily accessible. Herpin stated that he welcomed this as an opportunity to build an entirely new structure to inform students of the SSMU’s finances, suggesting town halls to explain the budget in person as a means of doing so.
Clubs and Initiatives Funding
Herpin explained that he wishes to increase funding for clubs and student initiatives and streamline the funding application process. He plans to do so by personally helping clubs through the application process and consulting with club executives on how to improve the current process. In response to a question from an executive pointing out that the clubs fund usually runs a surplus, Herpin explained that he believes once the application process is more accessible, the number of applications will increase and there will be a need for more funding.
Working with the Executive
When questioned about how he will work with the rest of the Executive following recent internal issues, Herpin claimed that as a new team member, he will add “a fresh perspective on longstanding issues” and strive to be supportive, friendly, and professional. He emphasized the need to contextualize issues and “make sure not to let differences of opinion get in the way of [the Executive’s] duty to serve the students.” When questioned on the SSMU’s role in political matters, Herpin claimed that while the SSMU needs to be careful when inserting itself into political issues, the society should not be entirely apolitical, as “there are some things that [he believes] we can all agree on as students,” but that “when taking a stand on political issues, [executives] should bear in mind how these issues impact all students.”
In response to a question asking how Herpin will deal with the impending building closure, he stated that while he “could foresee financial issues,” the SSMU is “financially in a fairly good position.” He articulated that he will “be there throughout the process, making sure that every single expense and accommodation due to the building closure makes sense, is financially responsible, and sound.”
In his platform, Herpin stated that the mental health fee of $0.40 is inadequate to provide necessary services to SSMU members. In response to a question about his plan to address this issue, Herpin claimed that he hopes to join the Health and Wellness Committee, and plans to look at restructuring and redistributing current funds. As well, he stressed the importance of consulting with Mental Health and Counseling Services before making any changes. Herpin stated that he thinks the Executive “could be putting more pressure on the university to…do more to help,” and advocates a more structured response to the mental health issues on campus than the administration has presented thus far.
Polling for the SSMU VP Finance by-election is open from January 15 at 9 am until January 18 at 3 pm. Results will be announced on January 18 at 5 pm.