a, News, SSMU Elections 2013

Larson wins SSMU presidency with 60% of the vote

On Friday night, Elections SSMU released the Winter 2013 elections and referendum results to a crowd assembled at Gerts Bar. Katie Larson, Joey Shea, Brian Farnan, Samuel Harris, Tyler Hofmeister, and Stefan Fong will comprise the 2013-2014 Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) executive team.

Larson was elected SSMU President with 59.5 per cent of the vote to opponent Chris Bangs’ 40.5 per cent, and Tyler Hofmeister defeated Thomas Kim for the position of Vice-President (VP) Finance and Operations with 71.7 per cent in favour of Hofmeister.

While Larson and Hofmeister claimed solid majorities, the battles for VP University Affairs and VP Internal were neck-and-neck. Shea beat Sam Gregory for the position of VP University Affairs by only 184 votes—or 52.1 per cent of the overall vote— for VP University Affairs. Farnan was elected VP Internal after beating Julia Kryluk by only 160 votes—amassing 51.8 per cent.

Students elected VP External candidate Samuel Harris and VP Clubs and Services candidate Stefan Fong—both of whom ran unopposed—to their positions with 89.3 per cent and 88.5 per cent in favour, respectively.


The campaign

The winning candidates expressed excitement and relief following the announcement of results. Many of them, despite their extreme post-campaign fatigue, said they enjoyed the campaign period.

“The best part of the entire campaign … [was] the opportunity … to meet with people and go to buildings or classes I hadn’t been into before,” Larson said. “I [was able to] sit and have a conversation with a student for 20 minutes about what they’re up to, what they think the university should be … that was so interesting and so valuable. It was a great experience.”

Some candidates chose to avoid conventional campaign methods, such as posters and classroom announcements, and emphasized the importance of interacting with students face-to-face.

“The main tactic that I used was to go talk to as many clubs as I could,” Fong said. “I thought it was really important for them to get to know me. I didn’t [put up posters], I didn’t do any talking in classrooms… the majority of it was really getting into contact with as many people as I could.”

Like Fong, Hofmeister did not invest in campaign flyers.

“I know that a lot of people swear by [flyers], but I was really, really happy that I didn’t,” he said. “Campaigning didn’t actually cost me all that much because I didn’t flyer … and because I didn’t [post flyers], I just talked to people.”


A newly elected Larson takes in her victory at Gerts on Friday night. (Simon Poitrimolt / McGill Tribune).
A newly elected Larson takes in her victory at Gerts on Friday night. (Simon Poitrimolt / McGill Tribune).

Surprising voter turnout

6,040 students, or 29.1 per cent of the student body voted in the Winter 2013 elections and referenda.  Elections SSMU Chief Electoral Officer Hubie Yu and several of the candidates expressed satisfaction with the overall turnout.

“I was pleasantly surprised for sure,” Yu said. “There were not as many candidates [this year] … I was also concerned because two positions were unopposed. [But] we matched last year’s [turnout], so I’m pretty happy overall.”

“I think [the turnout was] great,” Larson said. “The fact that … many people [voted] was a testament to how hard everybody worked.”

However, Yu still hopes for larger turnouts in future SSMU elections, and highlighted several tactics used this year that gave visibility to the referendum periods and the elections, such as Elections SSMU contests and the executive candidates’ meet-and-greet, where attendees were provided with free food and refreshments.


Looking forward to next year

Now that the results are out, both Larson and Farnan said they were excited about working with the new SSMU executive team, while Shea and Hofmeister  are anxious
to get started on their portfolios.

“I’m excited to start implementing my platform,” Shea said. “I’m really excited to work on Equity stuff …[and] on wait times for student services. That’s a main priority for me.”

“I’m just thinking of all the cool, little things that happen at McGill, that I wouldn’t normally be privy to, that I can learn about, and be like, ‘Wow, people do that? That’s awesome!’” Hofmeister said. “And obviously, [I’m excited for] helping [to make these projects] happen.”

The new SSMU executive will work with the current executive during a month-long transition period in May, and will begin their term on June 1, 2013.


All referendum questions pass

The Elections SSMU referendum results also revealed the new faculty student senators for the 2013-2014 school year. In addition, students voted in favour of the $7.25 increase of the Athletics Ancillary Fee, the $8.50 increase of the Student Services Ancillary Fee, and the adjustment of both fees to inflation.

Students also voted in favour of the creation of a McGill Writing Ancillary Fee, as well as a SSMU Equity Fund. The renewal of the $0.75 Sexual Assault Centre of the McGill Students’ Society (SACOMSS) fee passed with an overwhelming majority of 83.4 per cent.

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