Darshan Daryanani is a U3 political science and international development studies student running for SSMU President. Daryanani is currently the Arts Representative to the McGill Senate, sitting on twelve separate University, SSMU, and Arts committees. He is also the former Arts Undergraduate Society VP External and served as the executive on multiple student clubs, including the Indian Students Association, Tashan Dance Company, and McGill Students for UNICEF. He cites that these leadership positions have given him experience in project and budget management that will help him work with the Board of Governors, student body, administration, and faculty deans. His platform calls for promoting equity at McGill and within SSMU, advocating for marginalized students, enhancing offerings to SSMU members, and reopening SSMU buildings. He argues that he has “detailed and concrete plans which are really easy to administer,” and wanted to avoid buzzwords.
Daryanani’s platform emphasizes the creation of anti-oppressive training for marginalized groups and the forming of inclusive spaces. He mentions he was never offered training on while serving in student government. He argues that student institutions become oppressive spaces without strong training initiatives and promises to ensure that every club executive receives both anti-oppressive and anti-violence training with survivor-centric focuses. Daryanani is particularly focused on changing how SSMU conducts accountability reports, the surveys that every council and Senator use to rate fellow representatives on debate style, respectfulness, and approachability in SSMU meetings. He argues that this system devalues marginalized, and particularly BIPOC, students within SSMU and says that “the same people that mark people up and down are the same people who continue to make these spaces oppressive.” He also promises to increase International Student representation, who makeup one-third of the student body but only have one representative on the SSMU Board of Directors. Daryanani additionally wants to provide more financial and operational independence to SSMU commissioners like the anti-violence coordinator, Indigenous Affairs commissioner, and mental health commissioner to foster equity on campus.
Daryanani promises to enhance SSMU services by offering a Package Depot and Box Collection Service, a Tax and Financial Advice Clinic, a MySSMU App, and a SSMU Yearbook. He envisions MySSMU as a platform unique to McGill, on which clubs and university programs can promote their services and activities and avoid being lost in over-saturated Facebook feeds. Regarding his plans for Gerts, McGill’s student-run bar, Daryanani argues that students enjoy the “rough and tough” of a university bar and wants to maintain the student element of it, but stresses the need to have a “superfunctional” bar, which he argues was not emphasized enough in the old Gerts. He envisions the newly renovated Gerts to operate both in the morning—as a brunch spot or event space for campus clubs, coffeehouse Sundays, comedy shows—and in the evening as a student bar.
Outside of student government, Daryanani is a big fan of donating blood, having already donated over three litres of it. Daryanani also loves to travel and is from an exceptionally diverse background: his parents are from Jamaica and India, he was born in Indonesia, has lived in China, the United Kingdom, and Canada, and has visited 32 countries. Owing to a variety of cultural experience, in addition to English he speaks Mandarin, Hindi, Sindhi, bahasa Indonesia, Spanish, and French.
Jake Reed is a U2 Materials Aerospace Engineering student running for SSMU President. They currently serve as an Engineering Rep to the SSMU Legislative Council and sit on the EUS Board of Governors. In addition, they sit on the EUS Governance Review Committee and are Sponsorship Coordinator for the Materials Engineering Undergraduate Society (MEUS). As president, Reed hopes to expand the SSMU’s available student services and to solidify student rights and opportunities during the pandemic.
Throughout Reed’s Engineering Rep campaign during the 2019-2020 school year, they focused on the shared concerns of Engineering students regarding the commitment and apparent inefficiency of student government in representing their peers. During his presidential campaign, Reed is equally in tune with student grievances. Reed is adamant about continuing SSMU’s valuable mental health and sexual violence services, among others, under pandemic conditions. They also plan to release regular updates over the summer concerning the reopening status of SSMU clubs and services, in accordance with provincial directives..
During the pandemic, Reed sees student representation as subject to unfair limits by the administration. With the university administration’s recent intent to host Fall 2021 in-person, Reed insists that better student representation is required in the face of unclear communications and one-sided decision-making. Reed supports safely executed, in-person learning opportunities, as well as virtual learning options for the Fall in light of rushed planning and unfair manipulation of international students’ learning options.
“McGill is gambling with not only the health and safety of all our students but also our international students abroad,” Reed laments. “They'll have to buy tickets and an extremely expensive hotel quarantine for a Fall semester that may not be.”
Reed also plans to improve SSMU’s student accessibility through increased student activist dialogue and by considering the addition of a SSMU policy writer position to help draft statements. Reed will ensure that consultations occur with relevant groups and the support of the Legislative Council before any statements are published.
Within SSMU, Reed will also call on former SSMU executives to lend institutional expertise and help Student Life and Internal portfolios compensate for its current reduced labour capacity. Reed advocates for further SSMU coordination by communication between faculty leaders via the Presidents’ Roundtable.
Reed is particularly excited about plans to adopt the Student Care legal insurance policy, entitling all SSMU members to professional legal representation for an $8.33 opt-in fee. To counter many students’ lack of experience and knowledge about the legal system, a 24-hour legal consultation hotline for housing rights, employment, academic, and other advice will set, in Reed’s words, a “new standard for protection and outreach” for McGill students.
Reed bemoans the provincial government’s vague endorsement of academic freedom, citing “damaging, divisive” rules that do not properly hold university faculty accountable for unsafe learning environments. Rather than student inclusion stopping at academic freedom, they say, academic freedom should not encroach upon a safe, dignified campus culture where free speech can readily coexist.
Off the campaign trail, Reed is a McGill Model United Nations delegate, self-confessed space nerd and seasonal Metro busker. In their role this summer as Dispatch Coordinator for Montreal Students for COVID-19 Response and Relief, which helped to serve thousands of meals to families on the Island of Montreal, Reed learned that “individual initiative and spontaneity lead to great things.” Reed looks forward to fostering a “kinder and more representative political culture” in which students can achieve what dreams they want.
Mark Morrison is a U2 chemistry honours student running for SSMU President 2021-2022. The Bull & Bear sat down with the candidate to discuss his motives, his platforms and his goals as the future potential SSMU president.
What pushed Mark to present his candidacy was the feeling of fatigue he felt among the student body towards SSMU executives. “Over the past couple of years, despite their best interest, the executive at SSMU seems to have been forming a toxic environment of drama which created a lot of fatigue amongst the student population,” said Morrison. “I believe I can change that and bring a new outlook on things.”
If his platform had to be described in three words, he says they would be: sustainability, inclusivity and accountable transparency from SSMU.
“I will continue to work on inclusivity and advocacy, working closely with directors of marginalized groups on campus such as the Indigenous Student Association. I also wish to implement mandatory workshops and training on sexual violence, similar to It Takes All of Us, but specificaly for the SSMU members,” explained Morrison.“My platform will be one of accountability, consistency, and transparency, providing more public reports from SSMU.”
His goals during his presidency consist of continuing McGill’s past sustainability policies and implementing new procedures regarding sexual violence on campus, particularly among the SSMU community on a regular basis. He also explained his intention to continue the sustainability policies such as Vision 2020 and the McGill University Climate & Sustainability Strategy 2020-2025. “I have acquired a lot of experience by working with leading industries in the sector in the past, and I wish to use my contacts and knowledge to create a masterplan for economic, environmental, and social sustainability.”
Morrison also reiterated his intention to implement “SSMU regular inclusivity and sexual violence training, as well as accountability and transparency from the SSMU team to the students.“
“We all pay SSMU a fairly significant sum of money each year to work in our interests as students, said Morrison. “It is time to work towards truly giving back to our electorates.”
Morrison has experience in student-administrative positions as part of the Executive Council and Board of Directors for several community groups at McGill and being part of the Science Undergrad Student Society and by working with nonprofits in his home province of Nova Scotia. However, his rather unconventional academic background for this position is something he wishes to use for change.
“To have a change in something you need someone that doesn’t fit the mould or continual pattern of people filling the same roles, particularly in our student body at McGill. Despite their best interest, continuing in the same pattern cannot create sustainable change,” Morrison asserted. “Although I am not what one could call a typical candidate for a student government position, I do not want people to think of me as that; I want to refresh SSMU, and bring a new perspective on things.”