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SSMU Council holds first meeting of academic year

Council-initiated “Yes” committee for the SSMU Building Fee Levy

Council voted unanimously to create a “Yes” committee for the upcoming referendum question regarding the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Building Fee levy.

The levy—which would impose a $5.78 non-opt outable fee per semester upon full-time undergraduate students—was rejected in the Winter 2014 referendum, with 53.6 per cent of students voting against it. The creation of a “Yes” committee would aim to explain to students that the fee is critical to the survival of the Shatner building and to the student experience at McGill.

“SSMU has had to cut services to students in order to afford the rent and utilities payments to McGill,” the motion read.

Consequences of the referendum failing to pass for a second time were discussed in former Council sessions and include cuts to funding in all departments within SSMU, limited building hours, and financial instability.

Transparency and accountability of clubs and societies

SSMU VP Clubs and Services Stefan Fong, presented new measures that have been implemented to encourage accountability and transparency in funding for clubs.

According to Fong, only 117 out of 250 clubs submitted their receipts in the previous year, an issue that Fong seeks to combat through a reform that will target funding structures.

“Previous to last year, there was no real communication between the funding structure and the auditing structure,” Fong said.

Groups that are known to be financially responsible, reflected by a reliable submission of receipts, will receive funding first, whereas groups who demonstrate a lack of accountability, will receive funding last, if at all.

Proposed changes for preferential ballot voting

Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Ben Fung presented proposed changes for the Elections SSMU voting system, which included changing the voting period length and creating a system based on preferential voting, in which voters rank candidates in order of preference. While previously the candidate with the greatest number of votes would win the election, a candidate now must secure a majority of the votes to win. An eliminated candidate’s votes would be re-distributed in accordance with the voter’s stated preference.

“This is a significant change and should be adopted at a GA or by a referendum question,“ Fung said.

Votes are repeatedly distributed until a candidate has accumlated 50 per cent support. In effect, this would further democratize the electoral process, creating a fair and equal voting system.

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