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PGSS predicts surplus for academic year, votes to retain exec titles

Last Wednesday, the Post-Graduate Students’ Society of McGill University (PGSS) Council voted  changing the titles of two executive positions.

A motion presented at Council proposed changing “secretary general” to “president” and “financial affairs officer” to “chancellor of the exchequer.”

Councillor Juan Camilo Pinto, mover of the motion, explained that the changes would more accurately reflect their corresponding roles.

“[For] financial affairs officers […] there are a lot of people asking [about] the responsibility of the title,” Pinto said. “After researching a bit, we found that Chancellor of the Exchequer fits quite well with the title and the responsibilities.”

Member Services Officer [MSO] Elizabeth Cawley questioned the efficiency of the name change, citing the decision to change the secretary position to secretary-general two years ago.

“I have personally witnessed all the emails and information that have been missed in our previous name change from secretary to secretary- general or [in] the creation of MSO,” she said.

According to Cawley, a name change is very time consuming because it takes time for the university to adapt to the change. For instance, there would be difficulties from the need to adjust the executives’ emails, which reflect their current titles.

“We have finally figured things out,” Cawley said. “Let’s leave things the same for efficiency’s sake.”

Language of governing documents

PGSS Also held its Annual General Meeting on Wednesday. One motion passed at the meeting requires that all governing documents of the PGSS except contracts be made available in English and French.

In case of future conflict, the original language document will take precedence, while in the case of bilingually drafted documents, the English language document will take precedence.

Regarding the financial impact of the motion, Secretary-General Jonathan Mooney explained that PGSS currently has a translator who has been working on existing governing documents and will soon be available to work on any new documents that may require translation.

“It is really a matter of switching what he is spending his time on to things that are permanent from things that come up periodically,” Mooney said. “I don’t think it will affect our budget.”

Motion to expand the purpose of the corporation is tabled

PGSS members at the general meeting also tabled a motion to amend bylaws to expand the purpose of the PGSS to support students’ right to freedom of association in light of the ongoing Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) court case.

Mooney argued in favour of the motion.

“It is our purpose as a corporation to promote freedom of association, and we want to work with all the student associations across Canada to make sure that they have the right to choose whom they want to affiliate with,” he said.

Economics Graduate Student Association (EGSA) Representative Guillaume Lord expressed his concern about mandating freedom of association as one of PGSS’s purposes. Lord said this is a goal for a political organization rather than a student association.

“If you look at the purposes of the corporation as they are now, they are all about the members—advocacy for the members, promoting collegiality among members,” Lord said. “This is much broader [….It] sounds like the goal of a purely political association or a lobby group.”

The motion was tabled for future discussion at a date that has yet to be determined.

Annual report predicts surplus for 2013-2014 year

As Chair of the PGSS Board of Directors, Mooney presented a report on the financial state of Thomson House.

“A couple years ago, we were making about break-even, maybe a small surplus, but we got a lot of complaints from the people about the quality of services they were receiving,” he said.

According to Mooney, PGSS faced a deficit as a result of measures taken to improve the quality of PGSS services. However, after improvements were finished, the deficit decreased as more students frequented Thomson House, thereby increasing revenue.

“We upgraded the kitchen equipment and we made some changes to ensure that people would actually enjoy the experience here and like to come to Thomson House to eat,” Mooney said. “The revenues went up, so people are making more use of Thomson House. We changed the way we do service standards and the way we do service staffing. We have much more revenue than before, and we are on the road to make a surplus.”

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