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SSMU Fall GA fails to reach quorum with less than 20-person audience

On Oct. 2, the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) held its bi-annual General Assembly (GA) in the University Centre Ballroom. The event, open to all McGill undergraduate students, saw reports from SSMU vice presidents (VPs) regarding their summer work and future initiatives, with three open discussion points shared at the end of the meeting. 

The GA began with a land acknowledgement and the recognition that the 350-person quorum was not met, as less than 20 people—other than SSMU executives and event managers—were in attendance. As a result, the meeting was considered a consultative forum and votes on motions were non-binding, in accordance with the SSMU Constitution.

After passing the assembly’s standing rules—which specified the expected decorum of the meeting—and adopting the assembly’s agenda, SSMU President Alexandre Ashkir approached the podium to present the report of the SSMU Board of Directors (BoD). However, due to unspecified technical difficulties, Dong called for a recess. Upon the assembly’s recommencement, Ashkir did not present the report due to an internal miscommunication, and Dong announced that the GA would be continuing onto the next agenda item instead. The BoD report will be presented in the next legislative council meeting on Oct. 12. 

VP Internal Affairs Jon Barlas began with the first executive report, sharing that his areas of focus included diversifying the Students’ Society Programming Networking (SSPN) intitatives, publishing the 2023-2024 SSMU handbook, and revamping SSMU’s social media with additional outreach on the SSMU and SSPN Instagram accounts. Furthermore, Barlas disclosed that as of this year, SSMU has started to roll out post-event feedback forms after its events. He reported that ten per cent of attendees of SSMU’s back-to-school Barbie’s First Semester event filled out the form. 

VP External Affairs Liam Gaither delivered the second report, sharing that the L’Unité de travail pour l’implantation de logement étudiant or UTILE housing project—an affordable student housing complex to be built on the corner of Rue Ontario Est and Boulevard Saint-Laurent—is expected to be ready for move-in in Fall 2026. He additionally shared that he is working on projects in collaboration and solidarity with Indigenous peoples in Montreal. 

“We have been working alongside, or with the Kahnistensera, the Mohawk Mothers. You may have heard of […] the ongoing story developing on the […] old site of the Royal Vic hospital. One thing we’re going to be planning to do is host Critical Campus Tours, which will sort of tell an alternative story to McGill’s history, this land, and the people who have contributed and owned parts of it,” Gaither said. 

Hassanatou Koulibaly, VP Operations and Sustainability, gave the next report, explaining that her portfolio includes managing the use of the University Centre with plans of introducing gender neutral bathrooms on all floors. Koulibaly additionally shared that SSMU will be offering eleven minicourses this Fall, such as courses on pole dancing and speaking with confidence. Koulibaly also outlined some new additions to Gerts

“There’s new signage, and the new signage comes up with a new menu [….] Every student gets a twenty per cent discount, and then there’s forty per cent for happy hour,” Koulibaly said. “So, you get really cheap food.”

Following Koulibaly, VP University Affairs Lalia Katchelewa delivered her report. Katchelewa shared her involvement with the Indigenous Affairs Committee, Know Your Rights Campaign, and Menstrual Health Project. She explained that the Project plans on expanding their social media outreach to transform the way students consume menstrual health services.  

“There are informative videos on social media on how to use the different [menstrual health] structures in the university buildings and how to use the [menstrual] products themselves. We’re going to do little tutorials,” Katchelewa said. “All the products are always free for all the students who menstruate from the McGill community.”

Nadia Dakdouki, VP Student Life, provided the last VP report, highlighting the success of the Fall 2023 Activities Night, where 360 student groups tabled. Dakdouki also shared that the SSMU Daycare and Nursery are doing well, but plans of expansion are at a standstill while they search for places to expand into.

Lastly, Ashkir presented the President’s report, sharing that he’s working on reforming governance documents, making the SSMU environment more accessible, and developing better interfaculty relations for students. 

There were no questions from audience members for the executives. The meeting then turned to three discussion points, during which VPs presented issues and audience members were given the opportunity to approach the microphone to further discuss actionable items. Discussion points included the use and accessibility of campus space by students, food insecurity on campus, and actions for the ongoing climate crisis in relation to Divest McGill

While the GA was scheduled to be three hours, it wrapped up after one hour. 

Moment of the Meeting: Management Representative Alexandra Nitu was the only non-executive to speak at the GA. She asked if there was a way to bring together Presidents of clubs related to sustainability from various faculties to allow for more joint initiatives that avoid repetitive climate crisis actions. 

Soundbite: “Honestly, the lack of quorum at the GA is something we want to tackle [….]  I really hope that for the next GA, we are able to encourage people to come more and increase accessibility and democracy at SSMU.” — Ashkir on the lack of students present at GAs

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