In recent years, a series of increasingly vitriolic electoral campaigns and a rising tide of student apathy have deepened the divide between the leadership of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) and its members. As an unfortunate result, many now regard SSMU as an inefficient organization, marginal to the lives of most McGill students.
Here at The Daily, we firmly believe that SSMU remains an integral and worthwhile part of student life at McGill. That being said, however, the coming year’s executive team will have to work hard to earn the trust and respect of its constituents. At its best, a student society should foster a diverse, supportive, and accessible university experience, and SSMU certainly has the potential to enrich the lives of its members.
In preparing our endorsements, The Daily spoke to each of the ten candidates about their platforms, relevant experience, and understanding of SSMU’s political role. These interviews have been condensed and paraphrased in order to give a brief overview of every candidate, and the endorsements represent the consensus of our editorial board.
Each candidate’s stance on SSMU as a political actor was crucial in informing our decisions. In the wake of a contentious Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) motion at the Winter 2016 General Assembly (GA), there has been a troubling increase in calls for political neutrality on campus, culminating in a proposed amendment to the SSMU Constitution to screen GA motions deemed “external and divisive.”
We must remember that any stance, including both silence and so-called “neutrality,” is inherently a political one, and that such stances can have a disastrous impact on marginalized communities. Now more than ever, candidates must understand that the notion of an apolitical student society is a dangerous myth to cling to.
Finally, we were disappointed to note that the majority of this year’s executive candidates are white and men. Combined with the language of neutrality employed so frequently throughout this campaign, a largely white, male executive could create a leadership ignorant of its own privilege, and incapable of adequately representing women, racialized people, and other marginalized groups on campus.
Take the time to make an informed decision, and make your voice heard. The voting period runs from March 16 to 18.