A Guide to Your SMCSU Candidates (Part 2)

A Guide to Your SMCSU Candidates (Part 2)

Candidates for VP Communications, VP Community Life, VP Academic Affairs, and VP Arts

Aaron Panciera – NEWS EDITOR


Keeping up with your St. Michael’s College Student Union (SMCSU) can often be overwhelming, so we’ve created the following guide to your 2017-18 candidates. This should give all you University of St. Michael’s College (USMC) students a better idea of what we can expect and hope for from each. 

First, we covered your candidates for SMCSU President and Vice President (VP). Now, your candidates for SMCSU VP Communications, VP Community Life, VP Academic Affairs, and VP Arts. 


Vice President of Communications (1) 

Hiromitsu Higashi

Hiromitsu Higashi, a second-year USMC student, has a very definite vision of his plans for SMCSU. “People think SMCSU is detached from the student body, but it’s actually a problem of communication,” Higashi said at the SMCSU All-Candidates Forum. “I’m going to change the perception of SMCSU’s communication skills.” According to Higashi this will be done mainly through two policies, simply named SMCSU Reach and SMCSU Talk. SMCSU Reach will ensure that all emails about SMCSU events will contain the acronym in every email subject line. “This shows the student that SMCSU is functioning,” Higashi said. SMCSU Talk is a policy in which Higashi promises to hold open-door office hours for two hours a week, during which he will listen to both students’ suggestions for SMCSU and their grievances.  


Vice President Community Life (1) 

John Russell

John Russell, a second-year USMC student, is the sole candidate running for SMCSU Vice President of Community Life. Russell was not able to make the SMCSU All-Candidates Forum, so a delegate came in his place. “John is very industrious, he studies very hard, and he will work even harder for USMC,” Russell’s delegate said. Russell, who lives in USMC residence, hopes to bridge the gap between USMC student residents and USMC commuters and unite the two through, in part, and without mentioning specifics, events and activities that involve “all the USMC students no matter what background they’re from.” According to Russell, the “Catholic values” stressed in the new USMC Student Society Leadership Policy are simply “values people should uphold. Just caring for people, making sure that the students are represented and transparency… That’s what everyone wants to see.”

*Special thanks to Daniel Kim of The Varsity for providing The Mike with a transcript/recording of his interview with Russell.


Vice President Academic Affairs (2) 

Rida Hasan

Rida Hasan, a second-year USMC student, made it known at the All-Candidates Forum that the SMCSU had left a void in many aspects of student life. She also made it known that she wanted to change that, and this is highlighted by her three major goals, the first of which is to increase student involvement. “I will do that by implementing academic programs,” Hasan said. An idea she mentioned included using games like Jeopardy and Family Feud as fun ways to study. The second goal she mentioned was to make academics more enriching for USMC students. Hasan wants to implement programs for people to learn marketable traits that would not necessarily be learned in their field of study, such as holding computer science seminars. Her third and final goal is to make academics more “fun and social.” According to Hasan, this will be done by using Doodle Polls in order to see what students want. 

Alison Feise

Alison Feise, a second-year USMC student, is very keen on taking a multifaceted approach to academic affairs. Not being able to make it to the SMCSU All-Candidates Forum herself, Feise sent a delegate who read a statement that she wrote. “I plan to make everyone feel comfortable and supported at [USMC],” it read: “This promise includes more resources for academic success,” which she listed as learning exam skills, establishing study groups, and having a better knowledge of different learning styles. Feise also wants to implement “events that support mental and physical health, such as meditation, writing, or exercise groups.” She ended her statement with an acknowledgement of the importance of her position in SMCSU. “As [Vice President of Academic Affairs], I can assure you that I will be responsive to your needs and ideas because I understand that this position represents the voices of all USMC students.” 


Vice President Arts (1)

Maher Sinno

Maher Sinno, a fourth-year student at USMC, understands the need for inclusivity at USMC at a time when many feel alienated. “My platform would primarily include introducing a safe space for events,” Sinno said at the SMCSU All-Candidates Forum. “For us to be as inclusive as possible, we will hold various events for everyone.” This included events such as poetry readings, film viewings, and “jam sessions.” Sinno has experience in both the arts and in holding executive positions. According to his campaign poster, Sinno is the president of the Film Club as well as the founder of the U of T Spoken Word Club. However, Sinno still understands that his role as Vice President of Arts will be to act as an instrument for USMC students. “My objective this year is to listen, observe, and monitor what [the USMC community] has to say.”

The SMCSU election is currently underway. USMC students can vote online here until Sunday, October 15 at 11 p.m., and in-person today (Friday, October 13) at the following locations: 

• Brennan Lounge: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. 
• Kelly Library: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. 
• Robarts Library: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. (North Portico Table)  
• Loretto College: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. 

Official results will be released on Tuesday, October 17, pending ratification by the Election Appeals Board (which consists of Emma Graham, Luke Kyne, and Rebecca Bukovcan). Erin McTague is the election’s chief returning officer (CRO). While it is McTague’s “goal to have [the results] out before 5 p.m.,” she noted that the exact timing of the release of the official results “does depend on the Appeals Board.”