Along with the president’s usual task of jumping from meeting to meeting, and keeping up to date on McGill and SSMU policy, Ivan Neilson has taken on a few pet projects to help support student initiatives. In the past year, he has taken it upon himself to see through many of SSMU’s green efforts, from helping to organize the Plate Club and Farmers’ Market, to bolstering student demands for funding to support eco-friendly research projects. He has also taken an active interest in promoting McGill athletics.
Although Neilson is well-informed on SSMU issues, his knowledge doesn’t always come through at Council meetings. Neilson says he likes to work in the background on things, helping his fellow VPs with their individual portfolios – but since that generally happens behind closed doors, it’s sometimes hard to tell exactly what he’s been doing.
This year the executive has focussed on making SSMU more “user friendly.” Call us populists, but one way to do that might be to have a president who’s just a little louder and more visible as a leader. Neilson’s demure presence in Council means that he’s been outshone a few times this year by Olle, Dooley, and Arts Senator Sarah Woolf. He could work on garnering more popular support by taking stances on issues like tuition or federal and provincial post-secondary funding. A second project we hope Neilson follows through on is to revise SSMU Council’s bylaws, so that the policies remain in the institutional memory.