Audit Report and the State of SSMU Finances:
In their November 1 meeting, the SSMU Legislative Council received their annual audit report from representatives of FL Fuller-Landau, a Montreal-based financial firm. The auditors were questioned by various Councillors, mainly about privacy concerns regarding salaries. Later, the VP Finance, Jun Wang, gave his report on the fiscal affairs of the SSMU. VP Wang stressed the financial health of the body, but also noted the lack of manpower on the finance team, having only three accountants to cover the finances of a body with a 1.6M operating budget. While the Executive Council has authorized the hiring of another accountant, the position has yet to be filled.
During question period, Senator Bryan Buraga probed VP Internal, Matthew McLaughlin, about the SSMU Halloween event which took place at Macdonald Campus on October 25. The SSMU had decided to contract bus.com to transport students to and from the main McGill campus to the Mac campus. However, due to lack of SSMU chaperones on the bus, there were several reported instances of drunken students dirtying the buses and causing disturbances.
Due to the nature of the contracts, the drivers and companies reserved the right to refuse transport, which led to students being stranded at Mac campus with no way of returning downtown. The VP Internal stated that he and other members attempted to negotiate with the bus companies to renew service and to find alternative transport options. The VP eventually settled on offering reimbursements for taxis and ride sharing services for the students who were stranded at Mac.
McLaughlin maintains that the move was “a last resort” for the SSMU and that his priority was to “get students home safely.” As of the Legislative Council meeting, the SSMU had received 79 requests for reimbursement totalling in expense at over $10,000. The VP Internal stated that he didn’t expect total cost of reimbursements to increase by more than a few hundred dollars.
Legislative Council Discusses Changing the Name:
During the report given by the Athletic Councillor, Rowan Fletcher, the topic of the Change the Name Campaign arose. Earlier in the session, Tomas Jirousek, the Indigenous Affairs Commissioner and organizer of the Change the Name Campaign, had given a presentation on the efforts of the campaign leading up to the student referendum on the issue. He reported that between 500-800 students attended the demonstration on October 31 in support of changing the name of McGill men’s athletics teams. The administration maintains that the Redmen name refers to founder James McGill’s celtic heritage, while an increasing number of students find it to be a derogatory reference to Indigenous peoples.
Jirousek also criticized the McGill Working Group on Commemoration and Renaming, stating that it lacked sufficient indigenous representation. While there is one indigenous member of the council, Cindy Blackstock, she has not been able to make any of the Working Group’s meetings. Meanwhile, the group has continued to issue reports.
Rowan Fletcher, Representative for the Athletics Council, informed the Committee that the Athletic Council would be taking a “neutral position” on the Change the Name Campaign. She was criticized by many members of the Committee, including Arts Representative, Ana Paula Sanchez, who said that there was no such thing as a neutral position on the Redmen question. Fletcher pushed back, saying that the Athletic Council “think[s] that the best way… for athletes to voice their opinion [on the Redmen issue, would be] in the referendum.”
The upcoming referendum covers a variety of questions, from the “immediate renaming of the ‘Redmen’,” to establishing several new fees, as well as raising the discretionary spending of the Sexual Assault Center of the McGill Students’ Society (SACoMSS) to up to 10%. The campaign period will last from November 3 to November 12, while polling will open on November 9 and run until November 12 at 6pm.