News | Rebecca Dooley

SSMU VP University Affairs

Dooley is SSMU’s main delegate to the University administration. She represents all aspects of undergraduate student government— from faculty unions to the student senate caucus—and coordinates any projects that SSMU and the University jointly manage. Dooley’s predecessor, Nadia Wilkinson, had an impressive track record: among other things, she helped to launch McGill’s Office of Sustainability and SSMU’s Food Systems Project. While Dooley clearly intends to keep the gravy train running, her minimal experience in SSMU politics gives us reason to believe that she will have trouble keeping up with the pace set by Wilkinson. She has decided, for instance, not to set too many “big long-term goals” for herself but rather to focus on “little things,” like the accessibility of medical notes, feedback on course work, and problems with class scheduling. But theses issues are, for the most part, beyond the jurisdiction of any SSMU exec, and detract from more urgent concerns, like on-campus student employment and the new residence director’s draconian anti-drug mandate.

On the other hand, her commitment to improving the accessibility of student services, like the health centre, is admirable—provided she manages to make headway in that area. She has also started working with the University to create a user-friendly “access point” for a wide range of student learning resources like tutoring and online course materials. Her plan to continue the Office of Sustainability’s work through a special sustainability fund should be a healthy addition, and her close contact with Associate Vice-Principal (University Services) Jim Nicell is a strong starting point. Finally, her pledge to use the academic roundtable as a means of identifying problems that faculty clubs face with administrative red tape could ensure that student government at all levels stays informed and well coordinated.

But overall, we worry that Dooley may not be setting the bar very high. While we are pleased with her decision to start wine-and-cheese-style Town Halls following Senate meetings, she also needs to use her portfolio to initiate a few ideas of her own. She needs a more cogent plan for defending student jobs, and in that respect, needs to maintain a close relationship with McGill’s TA union—the Association of Graduate Students Employed at McGill—and the nascent Association of McGill Undergraduate Student Employees. She also needs to heavily prepare for her seat on Deputy Provost Anthony Masi’s Administrative Task Force on Dealing with Economic Uncertainty, while ensuring that the University understands student concerns with tuition increases and the record-breaking highs in student unemployment

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