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

The McGill Daily - - Olde Elections -

Alexan­der Dow

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.

Is­abelle Oke

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

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).

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