On Thursday, February 21, the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) released the results of the General Election, as well as the election for Arts Representative to SSMU and Arts Senator. Voter turnout for the former was 21.3 per cent, and 22.4 per cent for the latter. All the uncontested positions – President, VP Communications, VP External, VP Finance, VP Internal, and VP Social – won their respective elections.
Ananya Nair won the election for VP Academic, beating Wing Wong by a margin of 662 votes. Nair’s platform focused on making academic opportunities more accessible for students in specific, concrete ways. Further, she has a wealth of experience with the Social Equity and Diversity Education office (SEDE) and as the Arts Community Engagement Commissioner at AUS.
Arts Representative to SSMU
Many candidates in this category did not have a great deal of experience to prepare them for this role, or provided misinformed or conflicting answers during debate period. Shreya Dandamudi won with the most votes (624), followed by Andrew Chase with 599 votes, and Adin Chan with 553 votes. All three will represent AUS on SSMU Legislative Council next year. Ariana Kaye came in fourth with 514 votes, then Gabriel Ahmad with 461 votes, and Ruofan Wang with 240 votes. Hopefully both Chase and Chan will provide more information on the projects proposed during their campaigns. Chase had conflicting proposals for student clubs: cutting staff needed to manage clubs while also suggesting the number of clubs be increased. Also, Chan’s proposition for computer science students to update the Minerva website for free must be addressed.
The election for Arts Senator was very close. In first place was Henrique Mecabô with 557 votes, then Chloe Kemeni with 553 votes. The two of them will represent Arts students at the McGill Senate. Iyanu Soyege came in third place, just 12 votes behind Mecabô and eight behind Kemeni, followed by Lauren Jelinek with 317 votes, and Chlöe Shahinian with 175 votes. Kemeni brings a great deal of experience to the position, previously serving as AUS VP Academic, AUS Equity Commissioner, and SSMU Anti Violence Coordinator. Further, Kemeni has acted as voice for transparency and accountability during the AUS Executive’s undemocratic POLI 339 debacle. Kemeni also provided a comprehensive platform regarding plans to improve equity on campus and library renovations. During the debate, she noted which specific committees she aims to sit on to further advocate for students as a Senator. On the other hand, the election of Henrique Mecabô is concerning. During the debate, he admitted “[he does not] have […] specific work experience in student representation or government […] [he has not] done [any] work on the equity front specifically.” The only subject his platform discussed was the upcoming assessment policy review at Senate next year. The policy, while extremely important, will not be the only thing the Senate discusses next year, and Mecabô has not demonstrated any knowledge of equity issues and student advocacy, which are essential to this position as an official student advocate. It is concerning to see someone elected with an admitted a lack of experience and a lacking platform.
Jamal Tarrabain won the election with 86.4 per cent of the vote. He currently serves on the AUS executive as VP Communications. His platform discussed the upcoming renegotiation of AUS’ Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with McGill University, stating he would focus on improving the AUS Lounge, Bar des Arts (BdA), and advocating for other student issues. Tarrabain committed to finding the issues students care about the most through online surveys. During the debate, he mentioned how he has gone through equity training as a Floor Fellow and stated that the burden of labour should not be on marginalized groups to educate others. His actions during the AUS POLI 339 scandal have not been completely equitable. During a Legislative Council meeting on February 14, he remained largely silent, letting others, especially women of colour, respond and take responsibility for the issues raised. While Tarrabain has since apologized for being silent, he justified his silence as an effort to “not take up space.” Giving space to marginalized voices does not mean making them do more work than you. As per the official release of the AUS Executive’s meeting minutes, Tarrabain voted to abstain during the undemocratic executive vote, choosing to not uphold the democratic decision of the council.
Yoana Pehlyova won the election with 85.2 per cent of the vote. Her platform focused on reanimating AUS’ Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook through frequent postings and networking opportunities. Previously, Pehlyova has worked with the McGill24 Ad Campaign and as VP External of Inter-Residence Council (IRC). While Pehlyova has adequate experience for the role, she did not express any clear ideas about making AUS communications more accessible. She stated that although she did not know much about accessible ways of communicating, she is willing to look into it.
Darshan Daryanani won the election with 87.7 per cent of the vote. He has experience working as the VP External of the Indian Students Association and VP Publications of the IDSSA. Daryanani’s platform focused on improving student opportunities, like Work Your BA. He also expressed a desire to have more Grad Fairs, Law Fairs, and Medicine Fairs, and to make them more engaging, inclusive, and accessible. He also wants to improve student engagement with these efforts as he believes the main issue with these events is getting students to attend.
Stefan Suvajac won the election with 91.7 per cent of the vote. His platform focused on improving consultations usage of the Arts Undergraduate Improvement Fund (AUIF). He suggests meeting with the leaders of departmental associations to get their input on its use and developing ways to encourage more applications. Suvajac also wants to make the AUIF fee non opt outable, because everyone benefits from it, but it is not required to pay into it. When asked a question about the equity implications of making the fund non opt outable, Suvajac stated “by people paying in we can help increase opportunities which could perhaps balance out the fact that someone might have a difficult time paying the $17 or so fee […] I think it’s a relatively small amount compared to what the collective benefits could be with respect to equity and student experience if it’s increased and used effectively.” However, Suvajac does not explain in his platform how this fund, that “supports improvements to the physical and capital resources that Arts students use,” would specifically improve equity on campus.
Maheen Akter won the election with 91.4 per cent of the vote. Previously, she has served as the AUS Equity Commissioner, sat on AUS Legislative Council, been a Residence Life Facilitator, and worked as VP Academic of FEARC, which she will now oversee as VP Internal of AUS. Her platform focused on greater support to academic associations, improving both room booking processes and equity in AUS hiring practices.
Kim Yang, the current VP Social of AUS, won her re-election with 90.6 per cent of the vote. Yang hopes to improve the hiring system for Frosh leaders based on her experience this year. She also plans to do more events with the Event Planning and Implementation Committee (EPIC), such as a cafe crawl and frosh throwback. Additionally, she aims to aid the VP Internal in acquiring liquor permits, with Frosh and BdA.
Looking towards the next academic year, we will continue to cover the actions of the AUS Executive, Representatives, and Senators to ensure the transparency and accountability of Arts student governance.