Legislative Council debates Divest for Human Rights Motion following General Assembly

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On February 25, 2021, the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Legislative Council gathered via Zoom to vote on the following motions: Internal Regulations of Elections and Divest for Human Rights. 

Motion to Amend the Internal Regulations of Elections and Referenda 

The Motion to Amend Internal Regulations of Elections and Referenda was approved with a vote of 29-0, with 1 abstention. This motion was moved by Gifford Marpole, VP Finance, and seconded by Jake Reed, Engineering Representative. 

Following the Fall 2020 election period, Elections SSMU proposed an addition to the Internal Regulations to strengthen student elections and the democratic structure. The motion allowed for an explicit period to form “NO” campaigns, at least 3 days before polling.

Motion Regarding the Adoption of the Divest for Human Rights Policy

For the majority of the meeting, the Council debated the Motion Regarding Divest for Human Rights Policy. The motion was previously discussed at the General Assembly meeting on February 16, 2021. 

The motion was overwhelmingly approved at the GA, however, was not ratified. The fluctuating attendance and failure to meet quorum resulted in the deferral of the motion to the Legislative Council. The Legislative Council approved the motion with a vote of 21-5, and 4 abstentions. 

Tom Lee, Dentistry Representative, shared comments received from the student body following the GA. Lee highlighted that this motion disproportionately focuses on the Israel-Palestine conflict, and he shares student concerns that “should this motion be passed it gives SSMU the freedom to put forward anti-Israel and BDS ideas, which will further marginalize Jewish and Israelian students on campus.” 

Jake Reed, Engineering Representative, addressed the controversial components of the motion, which have been considerably debated and consulted. He says the issues around the motion are “questions about wording, not about what the policy does.” Reed claims “we have a responsibility as a group to contribute towards an effort to uphold human rights around the globe. That is precisely what this motion attempts to do in terms of its actual action items.” 

VP External, Ayo Ogunremi, said this motion is set to “expand SSMU’s commitment to social justice and human rights by adopting a divestment campaign.” 

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