VP Univer­sity Af­fairs

The McGill Daily - - SSMU Elections -

The VP Univer­sity Af­fairs plays a piv­otal role in stu­dent ad­vo­cacy, sit­ting on Se­nate and rep­re­sent­ing SSMU and its con­stituents to the Mcgill ad­min­is­tra­tion. The VP Univer­sity Af­fairs also over­sees the SSMU Li­brary Im­prove­ment Fund, works with stu­dent sen­a­tors on ad­vo­cacy projects, over­sees stu­dent re­search ini­tia­tives, and im­ple­ments eq­uity ini­tia­tives. Ja­cob Shapiro

One of the two can­di­dates to get on the bal­lot dur­ing Elec­tions SSMU’S ex­tended nom­i­na­tion pe­riod, Shapiro has no pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence in stu­dent gov­er­nance at Mcgill: in an in­ter­view with The Daily, Shapiro ad­mit­ted to be­ing “rel­a­tively new” to SSMU pol­i­tics, but felt that as a self-de­scribed fu­ture teacher, he was at­tracted to the VP Univer­sity Af­fairs (UA) po­si­tion as it ex­ists “to re­mind the univer­sity that it’s here for us to learn.”

Shapiro’s three-pronged plat­form stresses “con­ti­nu­ity, cre­ativ­ity, and com­mu­nity,” which high­lights the VP UA port­fo­lio’s re­search man­date, com­mit­ment to sup­port­ing stu­dent ad­vo­cacy, and stu­dent con­sul­ta­tion. Shapiro’s plat­form also in­cludes a few more clear-cut prom­ises to build on the work of the cur­rent VP UA, in­clud­ing but not lim­ited to, ad­just­ing the Aca­demic Round­table to al­low for greater col­lab­o­ra­tion, broad­en­ing the bi-weekly Se­nate Cau­cus meet­ing to in­clude ad­di­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tives, and cre­at­ing first-year se­nate sup­port po­si­tions.

While not part of the VP UA port­fo­lio, among Shapiro’s big­gest con­cerns re­gard­ing SSMU is gov­er­nance re­form, be it at the level of Mcgill’s Board of Gov­er­nors, or within SSMU. He feels it’s in­trin­si­cally linked to the VP UA port­fo­lio be­cause “it’s hard to ad­vo­cate well for stu­dents if you can’t prove to the ad­min­is­tra­tion, [one] that doesn’t want to lis­ten, that you’re speak­ing on be­half of stu­dents.” He points to “con­tra­dic­tions” in the SSMU sys­tem as be­ing proof of this, i.e. SSMU hav­ing both el­e­ments of di­rect democ­racy, such as Gen­eral As­sem­blies, but also a Board of Di­rec­tors more akin to that of a cor­po­ra­tion. When asked which re­forms could thus be put for­ward, Shapiro ad­mit­ted he has “con­flict­ing ideas be­cause [he didn’t] know what the best model is,” but felt greater con­sul­ta­tion needed to take place, and that an “elected Board of Di­rec­tors should be up for de­bate.” The ul­ti­mate goal should be mak­ing in­creas­ing stu­dent en­gage­ment, and mak­ing SSMU “as demo­cratic as pos­si­ble,” he says.

En­dorse­ment: No

While Shapiro’s plat­form does in­clude some smaller straight­for­ward goals and fo­cuses on stu­dent con­sul­ta­tion, it con­tains few con­crete pro­pos­als. Plans for “sup­port sys­tems for stu­dents need­ing to en­gage in per­sonal ad­vo­cacy” and “eq­uity events co-spon­sored by stu­dent groups” are vague and of­fer lit­tle in­sight into how to im­ple­ment them. Shapiro also fails to men­tion the Li­brary Im­prove­ment Fund, which the VP UA man­ages. Fi­nally, Shapiro also has too lit­tle ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing in and nav­i­gat­ing SSMU to con­vince stu­dents that big­ger goals like a “univer­sity ad­vo­cacy con­fer­ence” are fea­si­ble. The Daily thus en­dorses a “No” vote for Ja­cob Shapiro.

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