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Emily Boytinck elected SSMU VP External by 13 per cent margin

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Emily Boytinck, U3 Science, was elected the Vice-President (VP) External of the Student’s Society of McGill University (SSMU) last Friday with 56.3 per cent of the vote. The opposing candidate, Joanna Schacter, U3 Arts, earned 43.7 per cent of the vote. 2185 students in total voted in the election, with 369 abstentions.  

Following the announcement of the results, Boytinck expressed her excitement and gratitude. 

“I just feel very relieved, and happy for all the support that I received during the campaign,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to connecting with the Montreal community more and really getting involved and connecting with other student associations across Montreal and in Quebec. I think that’ll be a really exciting part of the portfolio this [upcoming] year.”

The by-election for SSMU’s VP External position was held because no candidates were nominated during the initial SSMU elections campaign period. A nomination period for the by-election followed, and ended on March 20, with Boytinck and Schacter being announced as the two candidates.  

2185 students voted in the VP-External by-election compared to the 5465 students who voted in the SSMU elections. Boytinck underscored the issues of student engagement in elections at McGill.

“It’s a little disappointing that the turnout was lower for [the by-election],” she said. “I think that has not only to do with the fact that there is a lot of misinformation about what the VP External actually does, but also just apathy about politics in Quebec.”

Schacter expressed gratitude towards the students who had voted in the by-election.

“I’m grateful to each and every voter, not just to those who voted in my favour, but to everyone who did vote, even the abstentions,” she said. “I wish [Boytinck] the best of luck.”

Schacter also echoed Boytinck’s concerns of student engagement with SSMU elections. 

“We are a university filled with opinionated people,” she said. “There is no way that students have nothing to say, or that any existing apathy is innate. If participation is low numbers-wise, which it is, that is a symptom of a larger problem—one in which I believe that SSMU has a hand [in]. What SSMU does is by no means easy, but there needs to be a greater effort at outreach and accessible information, and, in particular, at representing a greater variety of students more equitably.”

Going forward, Schacter hopes that all issues and suggestions brought forward by both candidates during the campaign process will taken under consideration for the coming year. 

“We both brought a lot of great ideas to the table, and I hope that this election has [allowed Boytinck] to look at multiple perspectives and student issues that she will take into consideration going forward,” Schacter said. 

Kareem Ibrahim wins SSMU presidency

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Kareem Ibrahim was elected president of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) last week with 52.5 per cent of the vote. The results were released by Elections SSMU last Friday.

Alexei Simakov, the opposing candidate, gained 47.5 per cent of the vote.

The rest of the SSMU executive will be comprised of Vice-President (VP) Clubs & Services Kimber Bialik, VP University Affairs Chloe Rourke, VP Finance & Operations Zacheriah Houston, and VP Internal Lola Baraldi.

With no nominated candidates for the VP External position in the initial campaign period, a nomination period for the by-election to fill the VP External position also concluded at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, with Emily Boytinck and Joanna Schacter as the two announced candidates. Campaigning for the position will conclude Saturday, March 27 at 5:00 p.m.

After a particularly heated campaign period, 25.9 per cent of students in SSMU voted in the election. 

Ibrahim stated that he was excited to assume the position of president next year. 

“I’ve been dedicated to student life […] at McGill from the beginning and I’m really thrilled that the majority of students have once again [shown] their confidence in me to continue [taking] that kind of role,” he said. “I can’t wait for next year to be able to put student ideas into effect.”

Ibrahim continued to underscore the importance of student engagement.

“[Both] races were very close for the contested elections, so I definitely think that we’re going to have to do some work in terms of reaching out to students [who] may not have had as much confidence in us as candidates and making sure that their voices are heard as well,” he said. 

Simakov expressed sadness at the loss, but also highlighted that he was proud of his campaign team.

“We’re disappointed obviously,” Simakov said. “We thought we had it in the last few days. We came here not having been really prepared to run. We didn’t really know what we were doing and I think given the conditions, given our experience […] I take a lot of pride in what we did.”

Simakov also emphasized that he would continue to advocate for students who feel that they are not represented by the current executives.  

“I guess the vote is that the current status quo is [working] for people and they’re going to support that,” Simakov said. “Whatever happens to me, I’m going to keep fighting for the student body of McGill. I’m hoping that I became a voice for some of the student demographic that does feel alienated or don’t feel represented by the current administration.” 

Simakov also raised his concerns with student participation in the election. 

“If you look at […] my event page […] public sentiment really was behind it,” Simakov said. “But […] we definitely had to do a better job of making sure people came out to vote and we didn’t, so that’s something we have to consider.” 

Uncontested candidates Bialik, Rourke, and Houston received strong support in the election, with both Bialik and Rourke receiving 89.4 per cent of the vote, and Houston receiving 86.2 per cent. Baraldi was elected to the VP Internal position by 13 votes over  opponent Johanna Nikoletos. 

Rourke underscored that she was pleased with the election results.

“I’m really excited to work with the new incoming executives, I think we’ll be a great team,” Rourke said. “We all have extensive experience with SSMU and […] we have a good understanding of the issues themselves. [Ibrahim and I] have worked together [in the] past on Senate, and I definitely think that that’ll be a good advantage […] when working with the admin going forward.”

Rourke also commented on the challenges that she believed SSMU faced moving forward.

“I think that people have […] had an image of SSMU [where] it’s not relevant to students [and] doesn’t communicate well with students,” she said. “I think that seeing an executive team all [comprised of] people [who] have been previously involved with SSMU might suggest that nothing will change, and I really hope that that’s not the case. I think that we all came in with the idea that using our experience at SSMU, we do want to make changes, and I hope that we’re able to do that.”

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