Candidate Profiles: VP University Affairs

The Vice President (University Affairs) of the Students’ Society of McGill University maintains relations between the Society and all levels of government at McGill University. Through the activities of Senate Caucus, Council, student Senators and student members of University committees, the VP (University Affairs) manages the representation of Society members at various levels of University government. The VP (University Affairs) coordinates representation on all committees and subcommittees of Senate as well as on University selection committees for Deans and Directors of Faculties and Schools, senior administrators and University representatives.

[bootstrap_tab name=”Claire Stewart-Kanigan” link=”tab1-slug” active=”active” ]

Name: Claire Stewart-KaniganStewart_Kanigan

Year: U3

Campaign slogan: Building community through collaboration

Candidate Biography:

My name is Claire Stewart-Kanigan, and I am excited to be your VP University Affairs! I am U3 Joint Honours student in Canadian Studies and Political Science with a Minor in Philosophy, and am currently serving as one of your student senators. When I’m not student politicking, I enjoy hiking around in the wilderness, doing freelance journalism, making art, and jamming with other folks on my electric bass and cello.


Describe your platform: 

As your VP UA, I will:

  • Push for increased University-level support of student serving organizations and resources, such as SEDE and Indigenous Access McGill
  • Strengten SSMU’s cooperation with these services for projects, such as implementing SSMU’s new Mental Health Policy
  • Build institutional accountability to student academic rights policies, such as the Academic Assessment Policy.

Further, I will oversee ensuring that the promises made by the administration regarding the sexual assault case earlier this year, such as the Safer Space Week and the institutionalization of the Forum on Consent, and begin the consolidation and development of a single Sexual Assault Policy at the University level. Additionally, I will use the student research budget to begin the development of an Indigenizing the Academy policy body—similar to the policies already existing at many Western universities—at both the University and SSMU level to accompany the new Indigenous Studies Minor.


Describe your qualifications:

Since arriving at McGill, I have been heavily engaged in campus politics. In my second year, I took my engagement from clubs and the grassroots to the council setting as Arts Representative to SSMU, sitting on both SSMU and AUS Council. During my term as Arts Representative, I co-drafted the AUS Equity Policy, participated in the revamping of the SSMU Constitution, and began the drafting of the AUS Ethical Purchasing Policy.

This year, I have taken my engagement to the next level of negotiation: Senate. I was elected by Senate Caucus to represent Senate Caucus on SSMU Council—my second year on council—and continue to sit on AUS as well. As Arts Senator, I have supported the passing of the Indigenous Studies Minor, spearheaded a push to restore funding to Indigenous Access McGill, and pushed for accountability to the University Academic Assessment Rights level at the University, Faculty, and SSMU level.

My experience has given me a sound literacy of McGill bureaucracy, and familiarized me with the experience of being often the single student voice in administrative committee settings. I also have remained engaged with the grassroots as External Coordinator of QPIRG working group KANATA among other student initiatives, and am prepared to serve as a liaison for grassroots projects and initiatives at the institutional level.


What are the successes and failures of this year’s SSMU and what would you have done differently?

The Mental Health Policy and Five Year Plan is an outstanding accomplishment of the VP University Affairs portfolio this year. The Policy reflects the ability of students and services from across campus to work collaboratively towards a common goal and produce tangible change for students. I would love to see more of this multi-level collaboration and building of bridges between SSMU and other student-serving resources across campus next year, and am excited to oversee the implementation of the new Plan in my term.

During the equity controversy, a SSMU-organized forum on equity practices at McGill may have served to allow voices to be heard at the SSMU level and make students aware of the ongoing revision process earlier. Providing an immediate channel for student feedback outside of emailing the executives in question may have helped in providing a bridge into the policy revision process, allowing criticism to take a constructive form.


What are some key issues you foresee SSMU having to address next year?

Engaging students in the revision of the Equity Policy next year will be an important challenge under my portfolio next year. This year, we saw a significant body of student research on equity policies at peer institutions compiled, as well as an outpouring of student perspectives and criticism on equity practices at McGill. Reconciling conflicting views while remaining grounded in sound research, respectful dialogue, and education to build an engaging, successful revision process will be key. As a former member of the SSMU Equity Committee and a co-drafter of the AUS Equity Policy, I am familiar with the policies and the internal workings of their implementation, and feel prepared to oversee this process.



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