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SSMU Legislative Council learns SACOMSS failed internal review of services

The Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Legislative Council convened for its second-to-last meeting of the 2023-2024 academic year on Thursday, April 4. The meeting saw reports on the First Year Council (FYC), Library Improvement Fund Committee, Environment Committee, Services Review Committee, and Varsity Council; a presentation of the 2024-2025 SSMU budget by the Vice-President (VP) Finance; and executive reports from the VP Internal and VP Sustainability and Operations. All motions put forward during the meeting were passed. 

VP Internal Jon Barlas presented a report on the FYC, discussing the various events and meetings that happened between Feb. 29 and April 4, such as a clothing swap and McGill’s Got Talent, which was held on April 2 in the New Residence Hall Ballroom. 

Next, VP University Affairs Lalia Katchelewa presented the end-of-year report for the Library Improvement Fund Committee. Katchelewa discussed the changes made throughout the year to increase student hires and library hours as well as proposals to improve the libraries next year, including updating the charging stations in Schulich Library.

The Services Review Committee gave a lengthy presentation on all 15 SSMU Services offered during the 2023-2024 academic year. Nadia Dakdouki, VP Student Life, stated that the Services Review is crucial for ensuring that SSMU Services are fulfilling their mandate. Reviews are created using self-reports, interviews, and external surveys. 

The only service to receive a failing mark from the Committee was the Sexual Assault Centre of McGill’s Student Society (SACOMSS). 

“[SACOMSS] struggles with the services they provide because they’re not professionals. It’s very difficult in some cases to provide support without providing straight-up therapy or trained professional support,” Dakdouki said. 

As they were deemed to have not fulfilled their mandate, this mark identified the organization for intervention to improve the services they provide. In an email to The Tribune, SACOMSS stated that it announced a pause in services on Feb. 1 “due to significant concerns about capacity to provide quality support.”

“In response to the grade, we met with the VP of Student Life and the Services Coordinator, Nadia and Stella, this past Friday, who were satisfied with our explanation and restructuring plan, and will be bringing it to the committee. Ultimately, we believe it is necessary and long overdue for SACOMSS to internally restructure, and hope that we will soon be able to provide the quality services McGill students deserve,” the organization wrote.

Following this report, Sustainability Commissioner Jaanashee Punjabi detailed the Winter semester’s Environment Committee report. 

“We identified [that] an issue on campus was that a lot of sustainability clubs were looking for volunteers and outreach and communication,” Punjabi said. “So, our aim was to promote sustainability in student groups and student initiatives amongst McGill students, and bring together resources that sustainability initiatives in groups can use under one umbrella.” 

The Environment Committee unified all environment and sustainability clubs and initiatives across campus, including Campus Crops, Little Forests McGill, and the McGill Environment Students’ Society. The Committee created a smaller environment executive committee which does structural and procedural administrative work to provide resources for these clubs and organizations.

After a brief recess, the Motion Regarding the Renewal and Amendment of the Climate Justice Policy, the Motion Regarding the Approval of the Environment Committee Funding Request for Trash 2 Treasure, and the Motion Regarding the Renewal of the Milton Parc Relations Working Group were all approved without debate. 

VP Sustainability and Operations Hassanatou Koulibaly presented the Motion Introducing the Internal Regulations of Sustainability and Operations. This motion related to the governing of the portfolio of the VP Sustainability and Operations and passed after a brief question period. 

VP Finance Amina Kudrati-Plummer outlined two proposed changes to the Internal Regulations of Finance. First, limiting the power that the VP Finance has to make revisions to the budget and second, removing the mandate to revise the operating budget, which the motion deemed inefficient and unnecessary. The motion was approved. 

The final motion for the day was the proposed 2024-2025 budget. The 2023-2024 budget accounts for a $723,000 deficit, whereas the following year’s budget accounts for a $460,000 deficit. Kudrati-Plummer explained that 92 per cent of next year’s proposed budget will go toward salaries, and the remaining 8 per cent accounts for other fees and costs. 

On April 7, SSMU sent a message to all its members stating that the union will reduce some of its services and close both the SSMU offices and the University Centre from April 8 to 19 due to budget constraints.

Moment of the Meeting: 

At the end of the meeting, the Council discussed the need for more candidates to come forward for the positions of 2024-2025 SSMU President and VP Finance. While the position of President has received three nominations, Kudrati-Plummer noted that the VP Finance position had only received one nomination. They expressed that a multitude of candidates is needed for the “democratic health” of SSMU.


“I’ve been very careful to make sure […] we don’t expand any of our services, both internally and externally. [The proposed 2024-2025 budget is] limiting […] but it’s kind of what we have to work on. As long as we are operating in such a large deficit, essentially, there’s very little I can do within the budget to reduce costs any further.” — Kudrati-Plummer, explaining the reasoning behind the proposed 2024-2025 budget.

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