News, SSMU

SSMU BoD vote to fill VP Finance position temporarily

The Student’s Society of McGill University (SSMU) Board of Directors (BoD) gathered for their first meeting of the fall semester on Sept. 7. During the public session, they voted to elect Vice President (VP) External Liam Gaither to take over the VP Finance’s voting power. The responsibilities attached to the VP Finance position will remain shared amongst the executives. Next, it was decided that a by-election to elect a permanent replacement to carry out the rest of the term will likely be held on October 5. The Board also chose to postpone a motion to move the Grocery Program from the President’s portfolio to that of the VP Sustainability and Operations. 

The board began the meeting by discussing a motion regarding filling the VP Finance position, which has been vacant since Alice Fang resigned in August. Following Article 6.10 of SSMU’s constitution, if an executive resigns, the BoD must nominate and subsequently elect one of their current members as a temporary replacement. Then, SSMU needs to host a special by-election—an election to replace a vacant position prior to the formal election period—for the students to elect a new VP Finance, who will carry out the rest of the term.

“When a director position is empty, the seat must be filled in accordance with the constitution,” SSMU President Alexandre Ashkir said. “Within the [executives], we had a vote and Liam came out unanimously.”

There was neither debate nor opposition to the adoption of this motion. As such, the motion assigning Gaither to take over the VP Finance’s voting seat until the by-election passed. 

The second motion centred around the transfer of the Grocery Program from the President’s portfolio to that of Hassanatou Koulibaly, the VP Sustainability and Operations. Ashkir said that the motion was brought up prior to the VP Finance’s vacancy, and as such, he had not discussed with Koulibaly if she was still able to handle the extra responsibility. To mitigate any confusion, Ashkir moved to postpone the motion, promising he would re-establish the motion at a later date. For now, the Grocery Program will remain a part of his portfolio. 

The final discussion surrounded the logistics of the special by-election to permanently fill the VP Finance position. 

“[The Internal Regulations of Elections and Referenda say] we have to waive rights to have a special by-election [since] elections should only happen at the end of a winter semester,” Koulibaly said. 

The BoD also decided a constitutional amendment was needed to determine when the newly elected officer would start training for and acting in their duties. The current guidelines state the new officer would start within two business weeks of training, but did not specify when training would start. Consequently, the Board amended the section to require training to start within two weeks of the moment the election is announced. 

VP Student Life Nadia Dakdouki pointed out that the First Year Council election is scheduled to take place during the same period.

“[The issue] is that there’s a week’s difference [between elections] and we’ll have to convince students to vote in two election periods,” Dakdouki said. 

Ultimately, the Board decided the risk of potential confusion would not dissuade them from hosting a by-election. 

Moment of the Meeting:

Ashkir explained that the dates of the by-election would be finalized on Sept. 11 in a legislative council meeting. He also stated that the Board needed to consult with Elections SSMU to ensure the dates would work.

Soundbite: “I had a conversation with Elections SSMU [about] if [having overlapping elections] is a serious concern. They say it’s not [a concern] […] The confusion aspect can be mitigated by campaigning.” 

—Ashkir on his hesitancy to postpone the First Year Council elections or by-election due to their two-day polling period overlap

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