The McGill Tribune

SSMU Elections 2015

Scroll to read about the candidates

About our Endorsement Process

In order to present the most informed endorsements as possible, we attended the debates and conducted individual interviews in person with each of the candidates. The Tribune Editorial Board debated and discussed every candidate in depth and voted on our endorsement for each position. Each endorsement required a two-thirds majority vote. Should you have questions about our endorsement process, please email us at [email protected]

President

Kareem Ibrahim

Alexei Simakov

Kareem Ibrahim holds two years of Legislative Council experience, as well as a year of being an Arts Senator. He centres his platform around improving communication between SSMU and students, improving how inclusive and accessible SSMU is, and advocating strongly for students on issues like McGill’s budgetary cuts. 

Ibrahim says he plans to reach out to students through various accessible social media platforms, such as Facebook or Instagram. He also lists biweekly video updates and mandating councillors to write midterm and end-of-semester reports as ways to inform students of SSMU’s operations.

 

Ibrahim’s platform on inclusion and accessibility includes making online spaces updated and accessible to everyone. According to Ibrahim, building conversations around concrete items with students from a diversity of backgrounds will help bridge the gap between groups that have different opinions on campus.

 

“It’s important students have a space for conversation,” Ibrahim said. “I want to give the microphone to students and want to hear what students want [....] Creating these channels [to do so] will be the largest part of my work as president.”

In terms of increasing accessibility to SSMU, Ibrahim gave the example of adopting simplified standing rules for General Assemblies, as well as inviting more faculty associations to Council. 

Ibrahim also emphasized that he would advocate for student interests towards the McGill Senate and Board of Governors in issues such as the indigenous territory acknowledgment, the sexual assault policy, and the preservation of student services in response to McGill’s financial issues. Ibrahim cited the extended library hours funded by SSMU as an example of how SSMU could act as a buffer against McGill’s potential cuts to services. 

Alexei Simakov is a U3 Arts student and a newcomer to the world of student politics who is running for president for the 2015-2016 school year. Simakov, who has been involved with Conservative McGill and worked with the Moderate Political Action Committee (ModPAC) to break up the student strikes in 2012, is basing his campaign on political neutrality as a means of ensuring campus unity.

According to Simakov, SSMU should concentrate on general aspects of student life that affect all students, not specific things that individual groups can handle.

For him, this means having SSMU take a step away from what he describes as the specific interests of “niche groups” on campus, and focusing on goals that the majority of students are concerned about: Opening the Redpath Library doors, resolving the issues behind AUS SNAX’s Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the university, and supporting the drafting of a sexual assault policy.

Simakov has no prior experience with student governance, something he openly acknowledges.

“I’m not someone who’s been engaged with student government at any point, I’ve always been the opposition,” Simakov said. “I’m not someone who understands perfectly the functioning of student life [….] That’s something I will learn along the way.”

To supplement his lack of experience, Simakov has stressed that he will learn during summer training and spend his time in office focusing on what he believes are the concerns of the majority of students, with the ultimate goal of having a student body that is both heavily engaged with and allied to their student government.

Endorsement: Kareem

The two candidates for this position come from nearly opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of experiences and approaches to this position. The SSMU president is expected to be a leader both within the executive and within Council at large, and Ibrahim is the candidate who inspires the most confidence in his ability to be a successful president. Ibrahim will bring to this position an intimate knowledge of what is required to be an engaged member of SSMU’s governing institutions based on his work with Council, Senate, and various committees and working groups. He has served as an active member of SSMU Council, has consistently shown an interest in the betterment of student life, and has suggested more feasible plans to implement, such as mandating councillors to publish frequent reports on their progress.

Simakov's lack of experience and knowledge regarding student governance has been clear throughout his campaign and platform, which undermines the promised goals he has said he hopes to achieve. However, Simakov has highlighted concerns that many students have about their representatives and the way in which SSMU functions as a governing body during this campaign. In effect, his candidacy has forced current representatives and the other candidates to look inwards in an attempt to understand where the growing disconnect between students and SSMU exists and how to address these key issues. For Ibrahim to succeed in his mandate, he must ensure that SSMU representatives do a better job of communicating to, connecting with, and being receptive to their constituents. Representation and consultation have been primary themes during this campaigning period; it is imperative that Ibrahim follow through on his rhetoric on their necessity and continue to strive for new and unique ways to reach out to students.

President

Kareem Ibrahim

Kareem Ibrahim holds two years of Legislative Council experience, as well as a year of being an Arts Senator. He centres his platform around improving communication between SSMU and students, improving how inclusive and accessible SSMU is, and advocating strongly for students on issues like McGill’s budgetary cuts. 

Ibrahim says he plans to reach out to students through various accessible social media platforms, such as Facebook or Instagram. He also lists biweekly video updates and mandating councillors to write midterm and end-of-semester reports as ways to inform students of SSMU’s operations.

 

Ibrahim’s platform on inclusion and accessibility includes making online spaces updated and accessible to everyone. According to Ibrahim, building conversations around concrete items with students from a diversity of backgrounds will help bridge the gap between groups that have different opinions on campus.

 

“It’s important students have a space for conversation,” Ibrahim said. “I want to give the microphone to students and want to hear what students want [....] Creating these channels [to do so] will be the largest part of my work as president.”

In terms of increasing accessibility to SSMU, Ibrahim gave the example of adopting simplified standing rules for General Assemblies, as well as inviting more faculty associations to Council. 

Ibrahim also emphasized that he would advocate for student interests towards the McGill Senate and Board of Governors in issues such as the indigenous territory acknowledgment, the sexual assault policy, and the preservation of student services in response to McGill’s financial issues. Ibrahim cited the extended library hours funded by SSMU as an example of how SSMU could act as a buffer against McGill’s potential cuts to services. 

Alexei Simakov

Alexei Simakov is a U3 Arts student and a newcomer to the world of student politics who is running for president for the 2015-2016 school year. Simakov, who has been involved with Conservative McGill and worked with the Moderate Political Action Committee (ModPAC) to break up the student strikes in 2012, is basing his campaign on political neutrality as a means of ensuring campus unity.

According to Simakov, SSMU should concentrate on general aspects of student life that affect all students, not specific things that individual groups can handle.

For him, this means having SSMU take a step away from what he describes as the specific interests of “niche groups” on campus, and focusing on goals that the majority of students are concerned about: Opening the Redpath Library doors, resolving the issues behind AUS SNAX’s Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the university, and supporting the drafting of a sexual assault policy.

Simakov has no prior experience with student governance, something he openly acknowledges.

“I’m not someone who’s been engaged with student government at any point, I’ve always been the opposition,” Simakov said. “I’m not someone who understands perfectly the functioning of student life [….] That’s something I will learn along the way.”

To supplement his lack of experience, Simakov has stressed that he will learn during summer training and spend his time in office focusing on what he believes are the concerns of the majority of students, with the ultimate goal of having a student body that is both heavily engaged with and allied to their student government.

Endorsement: Kareem

The two candidates for this position come from nearly opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of experiences and approaches to this position. The SSMU president is expected to be a leader both within the executive and within Council at large, and Ibrahim is the candidate who inspires the most confidence in his ability to be a successful president. Ibrahim will bring to this position an intimate knowledge of what is required to be an engaged member of SSMU’s governing institutions based on his work with Council, Senate, and various committees and working groups. He has served as an active member of SSMU Council, has consistently shown an interest in the betterment of student life, and has suggested more feasible plans to implement, such as mandating councillors to publish frequent reports on their progress.

However, Simakov has highlighted concerns that many students have about their representatives and the way in which SSMU functions as a governing body during this campaign. In effect, his candidacy has forced current representatives and the other candidates to look inwards in an attempt to understand where the growing disconnect between students and SSMU exists and how to address these key issues. For Ibrahim to succeed in his mandate, he must ensure that SSMU representatives do a better job of communicating to, connecting with, and being receptive to their constituents. Representation and consultation have been primary themes during this campaigning period; it is imperative that Ibrahim follow through on his rhetoric on their necessity and continue to strive for new and unique ways to reach out to students.

VP External

Emily Boytinck

Joanna Schacter

Boytinck, U3 Science, explained that her platform is centred on increasing student community engagement. “I really feel that when McGill students are able to leave the McGill bubble, it really helps [them] connect more with the issues [in] Quebec,” she said. “I want to increase community connections and [...] build a database of community engagement. Boytinck then stated that she would continue current efforts in fostering a good relationship with the Milton-Parc community through a street teams program.

“I’d like to improve and expand upon the idea of street teams with the Milton-Parc community,” she said. “We do them right now with frosh, but [we] could also use them for days like St. Patrick’s Day, or maybe have faculty associations request them for events.” Regarding the VP External’s political engagement mandate, Boytinck stated that communication efforts are integral in ensuring that McGill students are informed about SSMU’s political campaigns.

“I know that [campaigns] can be controversial and sometimes make students feel alienated,” she said. “I want to have a website published with all the different SSMU campaigns, the length of their mandate, how you can get involved [... and] also present a variety of different tactics for each campaign and really connect with people who may not be comfortable with doing more confrontational actions.” Boytinck continued to state that she believed that students should decide on potentially controversial motions through General Assembly (GA) procedures.

“I shouldn’t be bringing motions to Council that are for external affairs and could be controversial and contentious, I should be bringing them and motioning them to the GA,” she said.

Boytinck also underscored her commitment to sustainability efforts highlighting her past work as the Science Undergraduate Society’s VP External; with Divest McGill, an organization that aims to lobby the McGill administration to divest from fossil fuels; and with ECOLE, a student-run sustainable living space.

Schacter, U3 Arts, says she aims to combat student apathy if elected as VP External. She proposes to help students break out of the ‘McGill bubble’ by increasing bilingualism on campus, through translations of documents and a larger bilingual presence in external strikes, protests, and vigils.

Schacter also emphasized McGill’s role in austerity protests. She proposed that instead of SSMU-wide strikes, SSMU can seek to support Faculty strikes. Schacter also advocated for the outreach to students through initiatives such as pre-GA information sessions and ‘information teams’. She also includes improved media connections in her platform, both with campus and external publications. “I see the [VP] External’s role as one of support,” Schacter said. “There are so many groups on campus that do good work [...] they have a great voice, and it’s important not to speak over them—but they can be publicized a lot better and they do need support.”

In regards to SSMU’s relations with external student federations, Schacter spoke to the importance of joining such federations to show solidarity in times of austerity, and also to gain support from other associations on McGill-centric issues, such as Divest McGill. However, she emphasized that the decision of which groups SSMU decides to affiliate with ultimately needs to be made by the students. She restated that it is currently difficult for SSMU to get a comprehensive understanding of what students want and receive student feedback, as she sees GAs as ‘self-selective.’

“I think that’s SSMU’s role, to make sure everyone knows what’s going on [...] that they are affected,“ Schacter said. “SSMU can’t make any decisions or support any one side [...] unless they’re being told what students want. They’re not going to know [that] unless there’s been an effort to get everbody to participate in that.”

Endorsement: Emily

The Tribune endorses Boytinck for the Vice-President (VP) External position. Boytinck brings extensive experience to the job: as VP External of the Science Undergraduate Society (SUS); as a former coordinator of Community Engagement Day, given the importance of community affairs to the VP External portfolio; and as Clubs & Services representative to Council, which will be helpful in a transition toward sitting on Council as a part of the Executive Committee. In her platform, Boytinck also touches upon the VP External’s potential to expand the ways in which students can engage in a different variety of issues, such as innovation spaces, applied student research projects, and community engagement projects.

Although Schacter cites certain initiatives as concrete changes she hopes to implement, some of them seem to have been attempted by previous executives without great success, such as pre-General Assembly (GA) info sessions, while others are already in place, such as volunteering fairs and support of paid internships on campus. Information teams have also been proposed in the past, but have rarely come to fruition due to logistical barriers and timing issues.

Although both candidates address the necessity of joining a larger student union and of student consultation before doing so, Boytinck’s acknowledgment of their potential inefficiencies shows a conscientious understanding of the landscape of these federations. Candidates frequently emphasize the importance of joining a union, but experiences with student union groups such as Table de concertation étudiante du Québec (TACEQ) and the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) make many students wary of their effectiveness to elicit change.

VP External

Emily Boytink

Boytinck, U3 Science, explained that her platform is centred on increasing student community engagement. “I really feel that when McGill students are able to leave the McGill bubble, it really helps [them] connect more with the issues [in] Quebec,” she said. “I want to increase community connections and [...] build a database of community engagement. Boytinck then stated that she would continue current efforts in fostering a good relationship with the Milton-Parc community through a street teams program.

“I’d like to improve and expand upon the idea of street teams with the Milton-Parc community,” she said. “We do them right now with frosh, but [we] could also use them for days like St. Patrick’s Day, or maybe have faculty associations request them for events.” Regarding the VP External’s political engagement mandate, Boytinck stated that communication efforts are integral in ensuring that McGill students are informed about SSMU’s political campaigns.

“I know that [campaigns] can be controversial and sometimes make students feel alienated,” she said. “I want to have a website published with all the different SSMU campaigns, the length of their mandate, how you can get involved [... and] also present a variety of different tactics for each campaign and really connect with people who may not be comfortable with doing more confrontational actions.” Boytinck continued to state that she believed that students should decide on potentially controversial motions through General Assembly (GA) procedures.

“I shouldn’t be bringing motions to Council that are for external affairs and could be controversial and contentious, I should be bringing them and motioning them to the GA,” she said.

Boytinck also underscored her commitment to sustainability efforts highlighting her past work as the Science Undergraduate Society’s VP External; with Divest McGill, an organization that aims to lobby the McGill administration to divest from fossil fuels; and with ECOLE, a student-run sustainable living space.

Joanna Schacter

Schacter, U3 Arts, says she aims to combat student apathy if elected as VP External. She proposes to help students break out of the ‘McGill bubble’ by increasing bilingualism on campus, through translations of documents and a larger bilingual presence in external strikes, protests, and vigils.

Schacter also emphasized McGill’s role in austerity protests. She proposed that instead of SSMU-wide strikes, SSMU can seek to support Faculty strikes. Schacter also advocated for the outreach to students through initiatives such as pre-GA information sessions and ‘information teams’. She also includes improved media connections in her platform, both with campus and external publications. “I see the [VP] External’s role as one of support,” Schacter said. “There are so many groups on campus that do good work [...] they have a great voice, and it’s important not to speak over them—but they can be publicized a lot better and they do need support.”

In regards to SSMU’s relations with external student federations, Schacter spoke to the importance of joining such federations to show solidarity in times of austerity, and also to gain support from other associations on McGill-centric issues, such as Divest McGill. However, she emphasized that the decision of which groups SSMU decides to affiliate with ultimately needs to be made by the students. She restated that it is currently difficult for SSMU to get a comprehensive understanding of what students want and receive student feedback, as she sees GAs as ‘self-selective.’

“I think that’s SSMU’s role, to make sure everyone knows what’s going on [...] that they are affected,“ Schacter said. “SSMU can’t make any decisions or support any one side [...] unless they’re being told what students want. They’re not going to know [that] unless there’s been an effort to get everbody to participate in that.”

Endorsement: Emily

The Tribune endorses Boytinck for the Vice-President (VP) External position. Boytinck brings extensive experience to the job: as VP External of the Science Undergraduate Society (SUS); as a former coordinator of Community Engagement Day, given the importance of community affairs to the VP External portfolio; and as Clubs & Services representative to Council, which will be helpful in a transition toward sitting on Council as a part of the Executive Committee. In her platform, Boytinck also touches upon the VP External’s potential to expand the ways in which students can engage in a different variety of issues, such as innovation spaces, applied student research projects, and community engagement projects.

Although Schacter cites certain initiatives as concrete changes she hopes to implement, some of them seem to have been attempted by previous executives without great success, such as pre-General Assembly (GA) info sessions, while others are already in place, such as volunteering fairs and support of paid internships on campus. Information teams have also been proposed in the past, but have rarely come to fruition due to logistical barriers and timing issues.

Although both candidates address the necessity of joining a larger student union and of student consultation before doing so, Boytinck’s acknowledgment of their potential inefficiencies shows a conscientious understanding of the landscape of these federations. Candidates frequently emphasize the importance of joining a union, but experiences with student union groups such as Table de concertation étudiante du Québec (TACEQ) and the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) make many students wary of their effectiveness to elicit change.

VP University Affairs

Chloe Rourke

Chloe Rourke hopes to boost the credibility of SSMU, improve sexual assault support systems on campus, focus on mental health initiatives, and prioritize study spaces for students.

Using her experience as a facilitator of the Active Bystander Workshop series, she intends to focus on passing McGill’s new sexual assault policy in order to address areas of sexual assault not currently covered by McGill’s sexual harassment policy. Additionally, she intends to push strongly for more mental health initiatives. She hopes to get support for these initiatives by improving the unity between SSMU mental health initiatives and other mental health clubs on campus, pushing for a mental health committee, and encouraging professor training.

Many of Rourke’s priorities are student oriented. She recognizes current problems with student participation in Senate and intends to improve communication to the general public.

She also plans to lobby McGill to continue its commitment to accessible funding for students needing assistance, especially with the bursary program. She sees problems with raising student tuition and hopes that the bursary program can compensate for it.

She also hopes to work with coordinators to push McGill to pay for improvement fees, rather than having students pay.

“I’ve been to meetings with the library improvement fund coordinator,” Rourke said. “[It’s expensive] to just house a book on a shelf for a year, and that’s because the space at McGill is at such a premium and it costs money to keep those books there, whereas it could be a quarter or less of that price to host those books off-site [.... I’d like to see] the Library Improvement Fund to fund projects that are going to make our libraries more accessible and comfortable study spaces.”

Endorsement: Yes

The Tribune endorses Rourke for the position of VP University Affairs (UA). Chloe’s commitment to addressing mental health issues on campus is commendable, and she has substantial experience in this field—Rourke volunteers with the Peer Support Network (PSN), and sits on the Mental Health Service Advisory Board (MHSAB) and the SSMU Mental Health Committee. Rourke further emphasized the need for communication between students and professors with regards to the withdrawal policy that was passed at Senate, which would aid in mental health-related needs in academics at McGill.

Rourke also hopes to lobby the university to adopt a student-driven policy institutionalizing support for survivors, but acknowledges the need for tenacity and strong teamwork to effectively lobby the administration.

Rourke’s past experience as an Arts and Science senator will also help her advocate for student interests. Rourke also hopes to hold the university accountable, with special regards to the Memorandum of Agreement negotiations taking place next year, which is essential to ensuring that negotiations are undertaken in an efficient and transparent manner.

Rourke displays an intimate understanding of the disconnect between students, SSMU, and the administration. Her previous experience and her commitments to bridging this gap certify Rourke’s ability to succeed as SSMU’s VP UA.

VP Internal

Lola Baraldi

After having been involved in student governance for three years, Lola Baraldi is running for VP Internal with the goal of reorienting the portfolio to prioritize new events. In order to do so, Baraldi believes that it is important for the VP Internal to bring more clubs and groups to the table to collaborate with SSMU and the faculties, as well as work with the faculties to see what they want from SSMU.

Baraldi’s platform consists of three main pillars: Community building, communication, and innovation. One of the key aspects of Baraldi’s community-building plan is to further integrate the French community into student life, particularly by working with the Francophone Affairs Commission to create spaces where the francophone community can engage in events and discussions on campus. Baraldi has also said that she intends to reach out to the Milton-Parc community and other associated groups when organizing frosh to make sure that the event runs smoothly.

Baraldi has several ideas for the communication part of her platform, including monthly summaries of the activities of SSMU executives, SSMU awareness campaigns, and introducing an online calendar of events. Baraldi stated that she plans to speak with the Concordia student society to see how it implemented its calendar.

Finally, Baraldi also focuses on creating a larger variety of events that cater to more students. This would include expanding beyond the Students’ Society Network Program (SSPN) to create a new committee that would reach out to clubs for event planning and see which ones are interested in collaborating.

“There’s a bit of history of the status quo in the portfolio, so my goal is to kind of reorient the portfolio and maximize its potential in a lot of ways,” Baraldi said. “The student engagement committee […] was brought to council this year, but it’s been inactive, so that’s something to enforce [….] With the second event planning committee that I’d like to put in place on top of SSPN, I see that as the committee that would have that role, to reach to groups on campus in terms of how relevant they are to events we want to plan and to share resources.”

Johanna Nikoletos

Nikoletos’ platform is focused on SSMU’s relationships with its students and expanding orientation week. Nikoletos explained that she would introduce new lines of communications based on existing student groups if elected.

“I really think that SSMU needs to start fostering a strong connection with its students, reaching out to all students in different student groups and faculties,” she said. “I want to streamline the flow of information so that students are getting information that’s relevant to them [....] For example, the First Year Council would be a really useful resource to be able to target first-year students.”

Nikoletos also highlighted street marketing teams as another communications initiative.

“Groups of students join street teams, standing on campus and personally reaching out to people,” she said. “I think listservs and social media definitely have their place, but they’re really overused [....] Having people in person [...] whether it’s to promote events, raise awareness about issues, [or] collect feedback from students, is going to be one of my projects next year.”

Nikoletos also stated that her previous experience working as an Arts frosh coordinator would help her implement more inclusive events at frosh.

“There are [still] a lot of drinking-based events, so I think [we can] follow the same model that we followed for frosh this year by including more programming for events,” she said. “When I was working on Arts frosh this summer, one of the new events we implemented was having a movie screening on lower field [....] It’s a really attractive event because it’s open to everyone and all people can participate, even if they’re not a part of frosh. ”

Endorsement: Lola

Both candidates have similar platforms in their calls for increasing communication with students and the variety of events offered by SSMU. Although Nikoletos has identified some of the key issues that have faced the Internal position in the past, her platform lacks the depth and concrete plans that would lend themselves best to the position.

However, there seems to be certain elements of overlap in Baraldi’s platform with the External portfolio, such as the coordination with the Milton-Parc community during and after frosh, and we hope to see collaboration between the Internal and External on the continued work with the Milton-Parc community. Her platform also seems to lack specific details on how to better foster relationships between SSMU and faculties, particularly those that have voiced concerns in the past about a lack of connection with SSMU.

Ultimately, Baraldi’s more extensive experience on Council and with student governance in general will be valuable in the Internal position, particularly with regards to expanding the reach of the portfolio. Additionally, she aims to better include Francophone students in SSMU's affairs through continued work on the Francophone Affairs Committee, which is an important step towards increasing bilingual accessibility to SSMU as a whole. She also has more specific plans for developing working relationships, such as working with Athletics, Bianca Tétrault—the Liaison Office (Harm Reduction) for frosh—and the administration.

VP Internal

Lola Baraldi

Johanna Nikoletos

After having been involved in student governance for three years, Lola Baraldi is running for VP Internal with the goal of reorienting the portfolio to prioritize new events. In order to do so, Baraldi believes that it is important for the VP Internal to bring more clubs and groups to the table to collaborate with SSMU and the faculties, as well as work with the faculties to see what they want from SSMU.

Baraldi’s platform consists of three main pillars: Community building, communication, and innovation. One of the key aspects of Baraldi’s community-building plan is to further integrate the French community into student life, particularly by working with the Francophone Affairs Commission to create spaces where the francophone community can engage in events and discussions on campus. Baraldi has also said that she intends to reach out to the Milton-Parc community and other associated groups when organizing frosh to make sure that the event runs smoothly.

Baraldi has several ideas for the communication part of her platform, including monthly summaries of the activities of SSMU executives, SSMU awareness campaigns, and introducing an online calendar of events. Baraldi stated that she plans to speak with the Concordia student society to see how it implemented its calendar.

Finally, Baraldi also focuses on creating a larger variety of events that cater to more students. This would include expanding beyond the Students’ Society Network Program (SSPN) to create a new committee that would reach out to clubs for event planning and see which ones are interested in collaborating.

“There’s a bit of history of the status quo in the portfolio, so my goal is to kind of reorient the portfolio and maximize its potential in a lot of ways,” Baraldi said. “The student engagement committee […] was brought to council this year, but it’s been inactive, so that’s something to enforce [….] With the second event planning committee that I’d like to put in place on top of SSPN, I see that as the committee that would have that role, to reach to groups on campus in terms of how relevant they are to events we want to plan and to share resources.”

Nikoletos’ platform is focused on SSMU’s relationships with its students and expanding orientation week. Nikoletos explained that she would introduce new lines of communications based on existing student groups if elected.

“I really think that SSMU needs to start fostering a strong connection with its students, reaching out to all students in different student groups and faculties,” she said. “I want to streamline the flow of information so that students are getting information that’s relevant to them [....] For example, the First Year Council would be a really useful resource to be able to target first-year students.”

Nikoletos also highlighted street marketing teams as another communications initiative.

“Groups of students join street teams, standing on campus and personally reaching out to people,” she said. “I think listservs and social media definitely have their place, but they’re really overused [....] Having people in person [...] whether it’s to promote events, raise awareness about issues, [or] collect feedback from students, is going to be one of my projects next year.”

Nikoletos also stated that her previous experience working as an Arts frosh coordinator would help her implement more inclusive events at frosh.

“There are [still] a lot of drinking-based events, so I think [we can] follow the same model that we followed for frosh this year by including more programming for events,” she said. “When I was working on Arts frosh this summer, one of the new events we implemented was having a movie screening on lower field [....] It’s a really attractive event because it’s open to everyone and all people can participate, even if they’re not a part of frosh. ”

Endorsement: Lola

Both candidates have similar platforms in their calls for increasing communication with students and the variety of events offered by SSMU. Although Nikoletos has identified some of the key issues that have faced the Internal position in the past, her platform lacks the depth and concrete plans that would lend themselves best to the position.

However, there seems to be certain elements of overlap in Baraldi’s platform with the External portfolio, such as the coordination with the Milton-Parc community during and after frosh, and we hope to see collaboration between the Internal and External on the continued work with the Milton-Parc community. Her platform also seems to lack specific details on how to better foster relationships between SSMU and faculties, particularly those that have voiced concerns in the past about a lack of connection with SSMU.

Ultimately, Baraldi’s more extensive experience on Council and with student governance in general will be valuable in the Internal position, particularly with regards to expanding the reach of the portfolio. Additionally, she aims to better include Francophone students in SSMU's affairs through continued work on the Francophone Affairs Committee, which is an important step towards increasing bilingual accessibility to SSMU as a whole. She also has more specific plans for developing working relationships, such as working with Athletics, Bianca Tétrault—the Liaison Office (Harm Reduction) for frosh—and the administration.

VP Finance & Operations

Zacheriah Houston

Zacheriah Houston is the sole candidate for the VP Finance and Operations position for the 2015-2016 school year. His platform consists of addressing various aspects of the position, primarily funding, club audits, services, and general finances. He plans to expand on these, mainly by providing more transparent financial and budget information.

“People shouldn’t have to dig through Council documents to find information about our budget,” explained Houston. According to Houston, his main aim is to present the documents in a clearer fashion and make students more aware of this information.

Increased transparency is the foundation on which most of Houston’s platform is based, emphasizing the need for making investment and divestments, funding processes, and long-term budget goals more heavily-analyzed and available to students.

Houston also plans on collaborating heavily with clubs, naming club audits as his biggest plan of action. He aims to change the budget-auditing process into one that is easier to engage with, especially for new clubs and those unsure of the steps in order to receive their funding. He hopes to do this by streamlining the information available for clubs with respect to funding.

“I want to increase the information but also remove redundant information [... by] really consolidating it to one set of instructions along with an application,” said Houston. “I’d to like to standardize the process in terms of letting groups know whether they’ve been accepted [for funding] and [clarify] expectations and deadlines for them.”

Endorsement: Yes

The Tribune endorses Zacheriah Houston for the position of VP Finance & Operations. Houston has demonstrated a strong understanding of the position and its committees, as well as its relevant bylaws. His stated desire to improve the bylaws for club funding and review the funding application process will help bring stability to and improve on the current instalment-based funding system. Furthermore, Houston’s aim to create a Club Audit Committee will help improve the logistics behind club audits.

Houston has committed to improving upon The Nest so that it breaks even by with more revenue from increased catering services, and plans to sit in on frosh planning meetings with the VP Internal. Furthermore, he recognizes the importance of communicating budgets and fees to students, and aims to increase interest in SSMU finances.

However, it is important for Houston to elaborate and flesh out his plans for the budgets for The Nest and club audits as he moves into the position. Houston must ensure that he communicates budgets clearly to students, particularly since there have been concerns raised from the student body regarding the budget in the past year. Although Houston’s ideas for frequent audits are good in theory, it may be infeasible to run them routinely considering the amount of time and energy audits require.

VP Clubs & Services

Kimber Bialik

Kimber Bialik’s portfolio revolves around the improvement of communication and visibility of clubs. She also aims to reinforce the importance of clubs and services amongst Council and improve the ease of access to resources for clubs.

Bialik’s main focus concerns the improvement of the feedback system used by clubs and the consultation processes with clubs and services.

“The biggest issue is the lack of consultation for clubs on policies,” Bialik said.

Another important issue for Bialik is the need for SSMU to provide more resources to clubs when it comes to implementing policies.

“[We] need to give clubs the opportunity to self-administer,” Bialik said. “[This can be done by] providing more resources rather than more oversight.”

Bialik stated that SSMU’s ClubHub—an initiative currently being tackled by current VP Clubs and Services Stefan Fong that aims to regroup all the information for clubs in one place—should be continued in the following years as it is may be able to provide clubs with important resources in a streamlined manner. She also stated her plans to continue pushing the university to allow clubs to use “McGill” in their names.

With regards to the negotiations for co-curricular transcripts, Bialik expressed a strong interest in addressing some of the challenges posed by the project so that it may go through in the long-term.

“I think it’s a really interesting initiative, and students deserve to be recognized for the hard work they’ve been putting in,” she said. “We [just] need to find a [better] way to [administer] the process.”

Endorsement: Yes

The Tribune endorses Kimber Bialik for the position of VP Clubs and Services (CS). She is engaged with clubs and services currently as Interest Group Coordinator (IGC) and has concrete ideas for change, including plans to advocate for usage of the McGill name by clubs and services. Bialik’s grasp on the administration’s hypocrisy—using SSMU clubs and services as advertising while denying student usage of “McGill” in group names—is just one example of her nuanced knowledge of issues facing clubs and services.

Bialik has additionally demonstrated this intricate understanding through her IGC position and as the current president of three SSMU clubs. For example, Bialik cites bureaucracy of SSMU as a hindrance to clubs’ abilities to align with SSMU policies, and she advocates for providing resources as opposed to oversight to address these roadblocks. Representatives of many SSMU clubs have credited Bialik for her help in supporting and streamlining their efforts to conduct audits and update constitutions.

Bialik’s understanding of the shortcomings and potential of both ClubHub and myInvolvement further demonstrate her grasp of the CS portfolio. We look forward to the implementation of various efforts that will allow usage of both to become common and streamlined.

Bialik also recognizes some of the failures of the CS portfolio—particularly club outreach by SSMU clubs representatives, and failures to take clubs’ interests into careful consideration in SSMU’s decision-making. Through her past years of working with SSMU and SSMU clubs, Bialik has clearly demonstrated the competency and background needed to perform well as next year’s SSMU VP CS.

VP External

No candidates

By-election to be held later this semester.