VP University Affairs
The VP University Affairs plays a pivotal role in student advocacy, sitting on Senate and representing SSMU and its constituents to the Mcgill administration. This coming year will see some responsibilities removed from the University Affairs portfolio, s
Alexander Dow is currently an engineering senator on SSMU Council. Before that he served as the Budget Director for the Engineering Undergraduate Society (EUS), Blues Pub Manager, Student Space Fund Commissioner, VP Public Relations for EUS Junior Council, and VP Comms and Sports for MORE housing. He told The Daily that in his time at Mcgill he has been consistently “working with students or working with admin.” He has “seen a lot of students hurt” and “screwed over” by admin. He says his main goal is to help students deal with the bureaucracy of the university. He values teamwork and expresses a commitment to helping students on an individual basis. He has the trust and support of the EUS and hopes to bring some of their concerns to the SSMU Council.
He stressed that if elected he is not committed to introducing any new policy. Instead he wants to “cement what already exists” and lift up side projects that have fallen by the wayside. In particular, he supports the movement to create an Indigenous studies major, as well as institute a fall reading week. He is currently working to sway the opinion of the Engineering faculty on this issue. He has limited experience with equity and mental health and would take a back seat on issues of that nature if elected, emphasizing that he would use his privilege to advance the agendas of marginalized communities on campus.
Dow likes the apolitical nature of EUS, however, he understands the need for SSMU to be more vocal on political issues. He “draws the line in taking political stances when [SSMU] starts excluding other student groups.” Dow says that while he “grieves for Palestine [...] you can’t just openly target an entire community on campus, namely the Jewish and Israeli communities.” However, Dow says that he is good at working with others despite political differences. With regard to David Aird, Dow found out about his resignation five days beforehand. He thinks that the same is true for the other SSMU Execs and does not condone the negative feedback they have received in the past couple of weeks. He aims to work with campus groups such as SACOMSS to create and adopt a sexual assault policy within SSMU, but was unclear on what the specifics of this policy would be.
Oke has held multiple roles in the Black Students’ Network (BSN) over the years, serving not only as the President of the Network, but also as an External and Political Coordinator. Working as part of the Network displays a commitment to organizing and advocacy that VP UAS should have, she says.
Currently, Oke works as VP Floor Fellows of the Association of Mcgill University Support Employees (AMUSE). She was part of the AMUSE bargaining team which negotiated with the administration to give Floor Fellows salaries, and cites the experience as an example of her adamantly advocating for student’s rights when dealing with the administration.
Additionally, as part of the proposed MUNACA-AMUSE merger, Oke was involved in writing new bylaws for the proposal, demonstrating experience in policy development, and cites her training as a Floor Fellow as being conducive to working in University Affairs, having received more than seventy hours of training as a result, learning active listening, equitable community building, and first response to crises.
Her overall platform prioritizes accountability and campus outreach, especially in a time where SSMU feels incredibly disjointed from the student body. Oke wants to create specific student positions to perform outreach initiatives to campus groups that are not formally part of the Society, saying that “in her experience, active in-person outreach is an effective way of keeping in touch with realities on campus.”
In regards to the Library Improvement Fund, Oke wants to foster healthier spaces in Mcgill’s libraries, adding visual and nonvisual guides in the libraries to remind students that while studying is important, “there are small actions students can take to mitigate the negative effects of many studying practices.” Oke also wants to install “happy lights” to combat Seasonal Affective disorder (SAD) during midterms and finals.
Oke plans to build on the current VP UA’S “Know your Rights” campaign, which she feels doesn’t give students the option to ask for more “tailored or relevant information.” Oke also feels that SSMU should be doing more to make student services more accessible, and intends to meet demands to improve said services by working with first years’ like in a focus group, letting them discover Mcgill services and subsequently SSMU officers learning about their experiences and how they can be improved upon.
The VP External is responsible for connecting SSMU’S constituents to the wider Montreal and Quebec community. The portfolio includes communication with other post-secondary institutions and Mcgill’s labour unions, and lobbying the government on behalf of SSMU. The VP External is also mandated to provide support for student-run social and environmental justice campaigns. Noah Century Content warning: discussion of sexual assault
Noah Century is a U3 Music Performance student. Century has limited experience in student politics, serving as the VP External for the Music Undergraduate Students’ Association (MUSA) and Music Faculty Representative to the SSMU Legislative Council. A deeply concerning event took place during The Daily’s interview with Century. Regarding the case of David Aird, former VP External who had numerous allegations of sexual assault brought against him, The Daily asked Century what his takeaways from the situation were. In response, Century joked, “don’t get caught!” and laughed.
Despite the fact that Century made a rape joke during the interview, his online platform stresses that “I believe students should feel safe at Mcgill. [...] To help this happen, I will support any movement, motion or campaign aimed at making Mcgill campus be and feel safe from sexual assault and sexual harrassment.”
Century believes that it’s important that SSMU joins AVEQ as a voting member, whereas SSMU is currently simply an observer to AVEQ procedures. As a SSMU Councillor, Century was part of the Ad-hoc Committee for Provincial Representation working with the previous VP External on SSMU joining AVEQ. To effect this during his term, he would launch a “massive campaigning effort to inform the student body across campus about what AVEQ does, what joining means and what benefits we gain from it.”
Asked why he was running for the position, Century simply stated that he wanted “decision making power,” and that he had planned to run for VP Student Life, but changed to President because a friend was running for VP Student Life.
Century believes that SSMU shouldn’t have positions on “divisive issues” or “external situations,” by which he meant affairs outside of SSMU “anything that doesn’t effect the student body.” He would work to support AMUSE’S efforts to raise the minimum wage of students ”–rk“ng as part –f the W–rk Study pr–gram t– C1T an h–urm
Connor Spencer has been involved in student activism since arriving on this campus four years ago. Born to a labour union family, she is vocal about the importance of anti-austerity protests, demonstrated through her long time involvement with À la rue Montreal – a group which organizes across campuses for free tuition – and Mcgill Against Austerity. Spencer has also participated in other French and English off- campus campaigns, developing significant experience working with student activl ists across Greater Montreal.
For the last two years, Spencer has collaborated closely with previous VP Externals in her anti-austerity work. She has a solid understanding of the position’s responsibilities as well as ways in which the portfolio could be exercised effectively. Her campaign platform prioritizes communication and transparency among SSMU offices, between the VP Exterl nal’s office and relevant community groups on and off campus, and between SSMU and the Mcgill student body. She identifies this lack of communication among all parties as a major area of concern in her experience working with past VP Externals, and wishes to amend this through increased consultation with student groups, affected communities, and other campuses. By doing so, Spencer hopes to initiate a sustained conversation about financial accessibility and the effects of austerity on students, especially on those who are historically marginalized.
Spencer d–es n–t agree ”“th the Adm“n“strat“–n hav“ng a say “n student p–l“t“csm Nevl ertheless, she stresses the importance of a system in place to hold SSMU executives accountable. To this end, she plans to implement a stand alone sexual violence policy for SSMU, acknowledging the need for multiple avenues of complaint for those who have been harmed by fellow students in positions of power.
The VP Finance and Operations position was split into two separate positions this year, VP Operations and VP Finance. The VP Finance portfolio includes ensuring the long-term financial stability of SSMU in cooperation with the General Manager, overseeing funding and operations management committees, providing the Executive Committee and Board of Directors with regular reports on the financial status of SSMU, and developing the annual budget of SSMU. among other tasks.
Khan currently serves as SSMU’S Funding Commissioner in the VP Finance office, and the SSMU representative on the Mcgill Innovation Steering Committee. Prior to that, she worked as a Finance and Operations Assistant in the same office. Aside from her work in the VP Finance office, Khan worked as SSMU’S Researcher on Students from Foster Care, wherein she published a report of targeted support programs available across North America with concrete policy changes and recommendations for Mcgill, in the aim of increasing the number of students who come from foster care. Khan, herself a student from foster care, presented the report to the SSMU Legislative Council last November.
As Funding Commissioner, Khan was responsible for the allocation of funds from nine SSMUcollected student fees, in her estimation totalling approximately $350,000. She has additionally been heavily involved in advocacy work for students from foster care, both in the nonprofit and public sector.
Past VPS Finance have often campaigned on a platform of political neutrality, but Khan disagrees with this stance: “Finance, or money, in of itself is a very political issue, and people think it’s not,” she said in an interview with The Daily. “Where you choose to buy your groceries to where you choose to invest, it’s always a political position.”
Khan wants to promote social responsibility within SSMU, and has advocated for better resource allocation and combating ancillary fees from the administration. When it comes to corporate engagements, she wants to ensure that SSMU only engages with companies that “reflect our mission,” all the while ensuring that students do not bear the burden of additional costs. She aims to do this by creating a working group to oversee the development of Socially Responsible Sponsorship guidelines, while promising to prioritize consultation with the SSMU student body.
Overall, Khan’s platform prioritizes making SSMU’S finances more efficient and more readily accessible to the Mcgill community. Khan wants to increase accessibility of SSMU’S financial information by providing “bi-annual graphic snapshots” of SSMU’S financial operations to show students where exactly their money is going, most likely at SSMU General Assemblies (GA).