News | Five Alive mid-year SSMU reviews

Kay Turner President

Kay Turner knows she’s nearing the end. She’s looking to change and looking to do it fast. And so, realizing that some of her earlier goals are just too ambitious, Turner has shelved them for new, more realistic ones. Kay had once hoped to revamp Council, with big dreams for a more-informed committees, yet other projects interfered, like the nursery in Shatner for student parents and needing to pick up an extra portfolio. Former VP Finance Tobias Silverstein’s resignation in January has clogged Turner’s schedule with money matters, distracting her from focusing on presidential tasks. She has managed, though, to check a few to-dos off of her list. The lease for the new nursery in Shatner is almost signed, with that for Café Supreme hopefully following shortly. With one sustainability report under her belt so far and another that includes a five-year plan chocked with small decisions SSMU can make for a better environment, Turner’s proud that SSMU is taking green steps.

Nadya Wilkinson VP University Affairs

Sometimes we can’t help but feel like Nadya Wilkinson is Captain Planet incarnate. Somehow, between battling administrative double-speak and untangling the bureaucracy, she successfully got the Office of Sustainability on its feet, and she’s improving relations between SSMU and the University. Wilkinson has built a strong student-staffed Senate caucus, which she’s used as a tool to lobby the University on its draconian travel directive – although not to the ends she wanted to see. If that’s not enough, Wilkinson now has the Financial Ethics and Responsibility Committee to deal with – a VP Finance portfolio she says she’s going to have to rebuild. She’s also trying to track down a new ombudsperson, tackle the issue of room-bookings for student groups across campus, and launch a McGill Food Systems project that explores sustainable options on campus. The list is long, but based on Wilkinson’s enthusiasm and track-record, we’re optimistic that she’ll make a sizeable dent in her workload before her term is up. We only hope that she continues to engage with students in the process, and starts preparing a new student for her position to facilitate the transition.

Devin Alfaro VP External Affairs

Devin Alfaro is struggling, and he’s blaming the dying political spirit of McGill students. But an apathetic student population is not a valid excuse: it’s Alfaro’s job to make sure students stay aware and engaged in the community. Alfaro faltered in his attempt to repopularize Reclaim Your Campus and to improve low student voter turnouts during the Canadian and Quebec elections. We’ve had high expectations for Alfaro, especially because he seems to be one of the SSMUshies with the least going on in other areas; Alfaro didn’t absorb any portfolios with the disintegration of VP Finance.Luckily, Alfaro may be able to turn his frustration into a couple of new projects before his term wraps up. He’s talking about lobbying trips to Ottawa and Quebec City for increased government funding for education, starting workshops in the Milton-Parc community in conjunction with the Dean of Students Office, and fortifying a table de consultation with other Quebec schools. Alfaro’s got a point when he says that student disinterest makes his job more difficult, but he’s going to need to stoke the fire of McGill’s undergraduates if he ever wants to been seen as a facilitator.

Samantha Cook VP Clubs & Services

VP Clubs & Services Samantha Cook received a few curve balls this year. Yet the emergence of contentious pro-life group Choose Life and the surplus work she inherited from the VP Finance portfolio don’t seem to have ruffled her feathers too much. Cook has handled both incidents well, and she said she’s actually enjoyed taking over Gert’s from Silverstein. Before the end of her term, she’s planning on investigating the future of food kiosks in the Shatner Cafeteria. Their leases expire two years from now, and she’d like to replace them with student initiatives. Cook has abandoned several of her campaign promises, including fighting opt-outs and for the right of clubs to use the McGill name. She blames the administration and lack of applicability, respectively, for her neglect. With other pressing issues, Cook has only delivered moderate success. She’s made some headway in improving the issue of student space; the administration has granted students use of two more rooms in the Arts building. One of the greatest challenges to her portfolio, Cook said, has been working with students who are only engaged when riled by a negative incident. We hope she can prove the contrary.

Julia Webster VP Internal

Julia Webster is partied out, and rightly so. The graduating VP Internal has produced a greener Frosh, a conservatively budgeted SnowAP, a re-introduction of 4Floors, which sold out, and a smattering of other faculty events. She’s got the Varsity Booth up and running for athletes to sell tickets for games, and has kept up events like Francofete, which celebrates French culture, and the self-explanatory Fill the Stadium. Yet she may not have saved SnowAP, and it’s likely that students will be staring at a big white field instead of a big white tent next January if it’s decided the event is too much of a financial sinkhole. Webster has also struggled with the new SSMU web site launch, as the English version still lacks content and the French translation is nonexistent. Haven Books, mini courses, and the SSMU sponsorship portfolio landed on Webster’s desk when Silverstein ditched, but Webster assured us that they’re all doing well. We beg to differ, though. Haven won’t break even this year, and there is not enough sponsorship funding available to run the year-end concert that Webster promised. With all these projects looming over her head, Webster must also nail down a new beer contract for SSMU by years end.

Photos by Shu Jiang / The McGill Daily