The Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Legislative Council convened on Sept. 27, during which councillors Bryan Buraga, Mu Rong Yang, Garima Karia, and Andrew Figueiredo were nominated to the Board of Directors (BoD). The Legislative Council also approved a motion to prohibit the Vice-President (VP) Internal from becoming intoxicated at events and event organizers from spending SSMU funds on personal drinks.
In more routine matters, the Council renewed the motion designating affiliated clubs as SSMU’s highest priority and confirmed the membership of the health and dental care review committee. It also discussed a policy defining SSMU’s stance toward far-right groups and a motion addressing the lack of student participation in SSMU politics.
Motion regarding far-right groups postponed indefinitely
Council members voted to indefinitely postpone the Motion to Adopt a Policy Against Affiliation with Far Right Groups, which would forbid individuals or clubs affiliated with far-right groups from being directly involved with SSMU. During the discussion period, VP External Marina Cupido defended this move, stating that the policy in its current form was not yet ready to be submitted to the Legislative Council. Cupido will submit a revised motion in the near future.
“This is a very nuanced issue, and I think that there are a lot of concerns that need to be taken into account when trying to fight the far-right on our university campus, or anywhere really,” Cupido said. “I think that the […] draft that was brought up last year is a good start, but […] I don’t think it is adequate, frankly [….] I would like to see something better and more thorough, and I would like to have the time to put that together.”
The vote was initially proposed by the outgoing 2017-18 SSMU Legislative Council at the Apr. 5 council meeting, during which councillors voted to postpone discussion to the second meeting of the 2018-19 council. Despite this delay, Cupido expressed their commitment to preparing a policy in the coming months to address the presence of far-right groups on campus.
“I want to get this done by the end of October, so I really don’t want to drag [it] out,” Cupido said.
Council unanimously passes motion regarding student governance
Council members unanimously voted in favour of the Motion for Special Emphasis to be Placed on Greater Engagement with Student Governance. The policy, which will establish an ad hoc committee to undertake a comprehensive governance review, is an attempt to address student apathy toward and subsequent distrust of SSMU. These feelings have resulted in low voter participation in SSMU elections, including in the 2018 Winter Election, where only 32.8 per cent of the student body voted. This was the highest voter turnout in 14 years.
“The terms of reference engage in a serious attempt to address a longstanding problem,” VP University Affairs Jacob Shapiro said. “It’s a problem that traditionally has been addressed in ad hoc manners. I hope that this indicates a more sustained effort. Ultimately, we’ll be judged by the actions of this committee and not by words or bad raps.”
During the discussion period, Senate Caucus Representative Bryan Buraga expressed optimism that the policy would improve student perceptions of SSMU.
“I think this is a fantastic step in the right direction for reforming our society and making sure we re-engage our members, and [making] sure that they have faith in this institution that can do so much great work,” Buraga said.