SSMU Executive Endorsements 2021–2022

The following encompasses The McGill Daily’s endorsements for the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) 2021–2022 Executive team.

President

Darshan Daryanani

Experience:

Daryanani has worked for SSMU in several capacities – last year, he served as VP External for AUS as well as a Legislative Councillor representing the Faculty of Arts. He is currently an Arts Senator in the Legislative Council. In addition, Daryanani has worked as a Project Facilitator for McGill Global Health Programs, a Research Assistant in the Faculty of Education, Chair of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Vice Chair for the McGill Model United Nations Assembly, and Communications Assistant for the McGill Alumni Association.

Platform:

Daryanani’s platform emphasizes the need for SSMU to be a more equitable and transparent organization. He plans to institute mandatory anti-racism and anti-oppression workshops for SSMU officials, increase student representation on University-level governing bodies, and hold the McGill administration accountable to the Plan to Address Anti-Black Racism. Additionally, his platform states that he will continue to promote initiatives included in current president Jemark Earle’s Master Plan, such as the creation of a Package Depot, Tax & Financial Advice Clinic, and the reopening of the Gerts Student Bar, among others. He advocates for facilitating more representation in SSMU by establishing a quota for racialized representatives, creating positions dedicated to Indigenous and French representatives, while also empowering existing structures such as the Equity Commissioners, the Black Students Network (BSN), and the Anti-Violence Coordinators, among others. Finally, Daryanani plans to advocate for marginalized students by revising McGill’s Medical Notes Policy.

Mark Morrison

Experience:

Morrison is on the SUS Governance Review Committee as well as the board of directors for many nonprofits based in Nova Scotia. He is a member of the Canadian Society for Chemistry and an International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) affiliate. Despite Morrison’s extensive industry-related experience in sustainability, research, and legal sectors, Morrison does not have experience working for SSMU.

Platform:

Morrison’s platform is centred around sustainability, restructuring SSMU governance, increased accountability, and inclusivity in student advocacy. Morrison plans to implement a master plan within SSMU which will promote economic, environmental, and social sustainability. Furthermore, Morrison proposes a review and overhaul of SSMU’s governing documents, along with the formation of a committee dedicated to continuity and consistency in SSMU governance, composed both of members and non-members. He advocates for better access to support services for physical and mental health, survivors of sexual violence, and those marginalized by racial, gender, and sexual identity. Morrison pledges to work actively with Indigenous and marginalized groups to work towardreconciliation and promotion of diversity and inclusivity on McGill’s campus.

Jake Reed

Experience:

Reed’s notable experience includes COVID-19 Response and Relief, SSMU Legislative Council, EUS representative to SSMU, Steering committee, and the Comprehensive Governance Review Committee. 

Platform:

In their platform, Reed aims to foster “a safe, equitable return to campus” through advocating for a hybrid learning model. Moreover, Reed plans to set up a “financial asset” for international students returning to Montreal. This fund would go toward hotel quarantine fees. Reed also wants to include legal insurance – covering employment, housing, and academics – for any SSMU member who opts for it. This insurance would also mean working alongside the The Legal Information Clinic at McGill (LICM). Furthermore, they aim to host two froshes – for both returning second year students and incoming first year students. Lastly, Reed wants to advocate for “inclusive and anti-racist faculty conduct standards.” This would mean putting forth a new mandate on academic freedom, which would ensure that when “dealing with topics that [relate] to historically marginalized experiences […] there is some level of basic sensitivity” as stated by Reed. The plan for this conduct includes communicating with administration and continuing the work of the current VP University Affairs, Brooklyn Frizzle, and student groups such as the Black Students Network (BSN), Union for Gender Empowerment (UGE), and Muslim Students Network. 

Endorsement: YES with reservations to Jake Reed

The Daily editorial board endorses a YES vote with reservations for Jake Reed. Both Reed and Daryanani have considerable experience with SSMU and other leadership positions, but Reed’s plans to advocate for a hybrid learning model, build upon Frizzle’s work, and make legal insurance available to SSMU members bring new ideas to the table. While Daryanani has a very comprehensive platform, very little of it focuses on COVID safety and unlike Reed’s model, does not offer many novel policies. The Daily editorial board’s reservations lie in the vagueness of Reed’s anti-racist faculty conduct standard plan and their idea for a make-up frosh, which does not seem feasible given the pandemic and historically poor performance of SSMU-run froshes.  While the implementation and outline of the anti-racist faculty conduct standard plan is still being developed, the Daily editorial board agrees with the foundational principles of plan.


VP Internal

Sarah Paulin

Experience:

Paulin was a member of the Classics Students Association and of the McGill Model United Nations Delegation Team. Paulin has recently become the Deputy Director of PR – Events for McGill’s Secondary Schools United Nations Symposium (SSUNS). However, she does not have significant experience in student government or SSMU. 

Platform:

Paulin’s platform centers on improving Francophone Affairs, bridging gaps between student groups by connecting different faculties to create a more unified campus culture, and includes a loose timeline of events transitioning from online-only to fully in-person. Her platform includes separating Francophone Affairs from the VP Internal’s portfolio and improving transparency between SSMU and the student body. Additionally, Paulin affirms the importance of alcohol-free events and wants to improve SSMU’s current alternative frosh.

Endorsement: NO to Sarah Paulin

The Daily editorial board endorses a NO vote for Sarah Paulin. Paulin’s lack of experience and familiarity with the roles and functions of SSMU poses a significant challenge. In a conversation with the Daily, Paulin brought up the training SSMU executives must undergo prior to taking office. However, the editorial board believes that this training is not a complete substitute for longer-term, direct experience. Paulin’s plans for returning to in-person activities are vague, which she attributes to a lack of knowledge regarding the budget, though she is careful to consider the importance of including remote activities until April to accommodate students who are unable or uncomfortable attending in-person events. Finally, Paulin’s lack of familiarity with the Interfaculty Involvement Restriction Policy and ongoing work to restructure student safety at events raises concerns. Her focus on ensuring student safety during SSMU activities is commendable, but many of her suggestions – including the creation of crisis management teams – disregard existing clubs and services such as the McGill Student Emergency Response Team (MSERT). Although Paulin is inexperienced, her enthusiasm is commendable, and if elected, her commitment to learning more about SSMU will be a strong asset.


VP External

Sacha DeLouvrier

Experience:

DeLouvrier has no experience working with SSMU. However, he does have leadership experience with organizations such as Rise to Thrive, SSUNS, and the International Relations Students’ Association of McGill (IRSAM).

Platform:

DeLouvrier’s platform focuses on three target areas: governance and political affairs, advocacy, and community engagement. Within the realm of governance and political affairs, DeLouvrier plans to add the VP External position to SSMU’s five year plan, begin the process of joining the Quebec Student Union (QSU), ease the transition back to in-person activities, and increase “efforts to bolster transparency, accountability and accessibility within SSMU and directly with the student body.” His plans for advocacy efforts include supporting homeless and low-income communities in Milton Parc by collaborating with organizations such as Yellow Door and Meals for Milton Parc, “creating more academic opportunities to learn about Indigenous rights, Indigeneous history, and Indigeneous [sic.] culture.” He also plans to advocate for changes to the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD). In terms of community engagement, DeLouvrier discusses building partnerships with local businesses to hire more students, collaborating with local initiatives, and maintaining SSMU’s commitment to housing advocacy by working with the Affordable Housing Committee. 

Endorsement: NO to Sacha DeLouvrier

While DeLouvrier’s extensive leadership experience is promising, his lack of SSMU and organizing experience leave him unprepared to fulfill the duties of the VP External portfolio. Many of his plans seem unfeasible. For example, offering more courses about Indigenous topics would require extensive coordination with McGill’s faculties and the Indigenous Studies Program, and it seems that DeLouvrier does not understand the full scope of this venture. This is also reflected in his plans to encourage local businesses to hire McGill students, which are both beyond the scope of the VP External portfolio and would take up time that could be better spent focusing on political mobilization efforts. The lack of emphasis on political affairs within his platform is troubling, seeing that this is such an instrumental part of the VP External portfolio. Furthermore, DeLouvrier’s failure to discuss existing Indigenous student efforts and the role of the Indigenous Affairs commissioner is concerning. For these reasons, the Daily endorses a NO vote for Sacha DeLouvrier.


VP University Affairs

Claire Downie

Experience:

Downie is a highly experienced candidate, having worked for SSMU for two years under the University Affairs portfolio as the campus Menstrual Hygiene Products Coordinator. She also serves on the SSMUnion executive team and the Montreal Student Initiative for COVID-19 Response and Relief, giving her a logistical understanding of SSMU, McGill and Montreal organising.

Platform:

Downie’s platform focuses heavily on an exit plan for the COVID-19 pandemic. She notes,  “I really don’t think there’s much room for compromise here. Either a learning environment is safe or it’s not.” She plans to expand SSMU’s bi-annual Know Your Student Rights Campaign to inform students of their right to a safe learning environment. Additionally, she intends to circulate an anonymous COVID safety feedback form, and proposes an honorarium for racialized and LGBTQ students who submit feedback. Downie also stated in the debate that she would like to work with AGSEM and other unions, and plans on expanding the VP University Affairs portfolio to include a mandate for solidarity with unions on campus.

Neel Soman

Experience:

Soman has very little experience working with SSMU, and is running for the position after attending the February 16 General Assembly. Though he lacks SSMU experience, he has been a part of the Inter Residence Council, and has experience with the McGill Figure Skating team. However, it is unclear if he has participated in this in an executive capacity.

Platform:

Soman’s platform focuses extensively on Francophone affairs and the need for a better quality of translation services for students who speak French as a first language, particularly in dealings with the OSD and the Wellness Hub. Additionally, Soman emphasizes the importance of supporting survivors of sexual violence through the VP University Affairs portfolio. He would like to streamline and expand upon the Policy Against Sexual Violence and the Policy on Harassment and Discrimination Prohibited by Law to provide better support for survivors.

YES to Claire Downie 

Downie is by far the most qualified candidate for the University Affairs role, and is arguably the most experienced candidate on the slate overall. Both candidates are extremely passionate about serving the McGill community, and both acknowledged the similarities in their platforms, each commended the other’s work in their respective conversations with the Daily. While Soman’s platform initially seems to focus more on combatting sexual violence than that of his opponent, Downie clarified her stance in interview, admirably noting, “I believe so strongly that survivors need to be supported at SSMU, at McGill, everywhere, but this isn’t formal work that I’ve done, and I would leave these decisions up to stakeholders like the anti-sexual violence mobilisation commissioner Maeve, Jamie is the other one, because they know best, they do this work with survivors, they do policy work, and I want to hear from them.” Downie’s decision to focus her platform on COVID-19 safety is appropriate given the overall management of the pandemic. Her knowledge of both the inner workings of SSMU and the general activist environment on campus makes her an excellent candidate for VP UA. 


VP Student Life

Karla Heisele Cubilla

Experience:

Heisele Cubilla has experience working as VP Events and VP Projects in the Spanish and Latin-American Student Association (SLASA), as well as Director of Recruitment at Alpha Phi. She does not have any official SSMU experience, but has navigated SSMU as a club during her time working at SLASA.

Platform:

Heisele Cubilla’s platform is made up of three pillars: mental health, family care, and student groups and professional development. In the area of mental health, her plans focus mainly on continuing the work of her predecessor Maheen Akter, specifically maintaining the WellnessWorld portal. For family care, she plans on allowing student volunteers to work at the SSMU daycare to reduce wait times. For student groups, she mainly focuses her attention on a safe transition back to in-person activities, as well as updating the online club portal and helping increase the social media presence of clubs and services; it is unclear exactly how. Heisele Cubilla would also like to run free certifiable mini courses to aid in students’ professional development. Throughout her platform, she emphasizes listening to students’ concerns, but it is unclear exactly how she plans to do this and what she plans to do with the information.

Endorsement: NO to Karla Heisele Cubilla

Although Heisele Cubilla has good intentions for student engagement and improving the clubs and services online platform, she lacks SSMU experience, and does not seem to have a strong understanding of the portfolio or its current projects.

She does not propose many new ideas or projects, mostly planning to continue the work of her predecessor Maheen Akter. As well, some of her ideas already exist, showing a lack of knowledge about SSMU and its clubs and services; for example, one of her proposals for a free certifiable course is first aid training, which is already offered at a low cost by MSERT, a SSMU service under the VP Student Life portfolio. She also proposes using student volunteers at SSMU daycare, which contradicts SSMU’s policy against unpaid internships and labour; she did not address compensation until specifically asked in an interview, at which time she gave no specifics. Furthermore, there was a general lack of detail when calling for diversity and accessibility in mental health services; no specific problems or solutions were mentioned. For these reasons, the Daily endorses a NO vote for Karla Heisele Cubilla.


VP Finance

Éric Sader

Experience:

Sader has served as the Deputy Head Delegate and Head of Equity for McGill’s Model UN Delegations team, and coordinating events for IRSAM. With this in mind, Sader does not have any specific work experience relating to finances or budgetary management.

Platform:

Sader’s platform focuses largely on making SSMU’s financial referenda and processes more transparent to the McGill student body by publishing monthly notes on the affairs of the Finance portfolio and offering information sessions to club treasurers on a semi-annual basis. Having described the SSMU budget as the “logistical, financial and administrative backbone” of student groups’ programming, Sader discussed the consolidation of SSMU fees for the purpose of protecting less prominent, but much-needed, student organizations. At the same time, his platform stipulates protections for long-term savings in the cases of student organizations coordinating large projects, as well as to prevent the emergence of a “perverse incentive” to use SSMU finances before they are reallocated. Additionally, Sader discussed the importance of curbing an already well-rooted polarity between Anglophone and Francophone students by translating financial reports – the majority of which are currently only available in English – into French, and proposing ambitious tuition rebates for international students in French-language programs.

Endorsement: YES with reservations to Éric Sader

Although Sader has made marked contributions to organizational leadership and program coordination within McGill, his experience does not include budgetary management. With Sader’s sound, well-balanced platform in mind, the editorial board at the Daily holds reservations rooted in concerns over the more lofty goals within this platform, as well as his lack of a background in finance. However, the more tangible and well-defined objectives within Sader’s plan make up for his lack of experience in direct financial management, and the Daily supports the transparent, community-minded ethos at the root of his campaign.


The Daily’s Managing editor, Willa Holt, signed presidential candidate Darshan Daryanani’s nomination form. Additionally, Coordinating editor Kate Ellis signed VP University Affairs candidate Claire Downie’s nomination form. Both editors recused themselves from the editorial endorsement process for these positions.


A previous version of this article erroneously stated that Neel Soman, a candidate for VP University Affairs, attended the October 22 Legislative Council meeting. The Daily regrets this error.