On February 7, SSMU held its second Legislative Council meeting of the winter semester to discuss election regulations, the SSMU policy on proxies, McGill club application procedures, and more.
Representative for Anti-Semitism Committee elected
The council moved to elect Management Representative Brooke Callaghan to sit on the Joint Board of Directors and Legislative Council Special Committee on Anti-Semitism. Arts Representative Ana Paula Sanchez proposed postponing the vote since Social Work Representative, Zach Kleiner, who also wished to run for the position, was not present to make their case for why they thought they should be appointed to the committee.
VP University Affairs, Jacob Shapiro, contended that this was a pressing matter that needed to be voted on as soon as possible. Councillors Callaghan, Kleiner, and Victoria Flaherty ran for the position and shortly presented their cases for wanting to be appointed, with Kleiner’s statement delivered by Sanchez. Councillor Callaghan, who cited a desire to confront “issues of anti-Semitism that have been present in SSMU in the last few years,” ultimately won the vote.
Changes to the Policy on Support for Family Care
Arts Representative, Ana Paula Sanchez, introduced the Motion Regarding Amendments to the Policy on Support for Family Care. According to Sanchez, the proposed changes will primarily account for the fact that the SSMU building is currently closed and to, therefore, ensure that campus remains accessible for student parents.
Proposed changes include a more accessible policy on medical notes and a more comprehensive leave for students who are pregnant or breastfeeding. The current Policy on Support for Family Care does not currently account for students who may be unable to fulfill the lab requirements needed for their degree due to their inability to be in a lab. The motion was carried.
Updates to Election Regulations
SSMU President, Tre Mansdoerfer, introduced the Motion Regarding Changes to the Internal Regulations of Elections and Referenda, which ultimately passed after some minor changes. He explained that the motion would amend the regulations for McGill elections, which were originally created when there were “lots of issues with internal regulations.”
The most significant changes presented at the council were: provisions which would allow electoral timelines to be shortened when necessary, a new demerit point system to regulate candidates, and new restrictions on campaigning in student residences.
During the debate, there was pushback on the motion from Arts Representative, Andrew Figueiredo, who questioned section 5.3 of the motion, which would prohibit candidates and campaign members from sending unsolicited messages advertising their campaign on social media. Many agreed, and the general consensus was that sending unsolicited messages about one’s campaign is a key tool for increasing voter turnout.
Figueiredo moved to amend the motion so that it would allow for candidates and campaign members to send messages to people when campaigning, excluding Listservs. The amendment was carried and the motion subsequently passed unopposed.
Potential Upcoming Changes to the Application Process for New McGill Clubs
Clubs Representative, Victoria Flaherty, introduced the Motion Regarding Changes to the SSMU Rubric for Full Status Clubs, which was “written with the desire to make it easier to improve clubs that are enhancing student life,” the motion was ultimately postponed. The motion essentially states that the rubric for McGill clubs to become a full status (and therefore receive more resources from SSMU) isn’t strenuous enough.
The changes to the rubric would make the process more intense with the hope of stopping any drain on SSMU resources from clubs that aren’t up to the appropriate standards. The motion wouldn’t affect the application for clubs to enter interim status.
The motion was subject to an extensive question period, where VP Student Life, Sophia Esterle, questioned the logic of not instating the more extensive evaluation process at the interim application stage, rather than the full status application stage. She pointed out that SSMU gives clubs the majority of their resources when they are in interim status, and moved to postpone this motion until the next legislative council meeting to amend it to potentially intensify the application process for clubs to achieve interim status.
SSMU Science Representative to Be Replaced by Proxies for Rest of the Semester
Science Representative, Haoyi Qiu, presented the Motion Regarding Exemption for SUS from the Standing Rules Proxy Limit, which was ultimately carried. The motion requests exemption from the rule that SSMU representatives may not send a proxy for more than two meetings for SUS SSMU representative Moses Milchberg.
Qiu explained that Milchberg had resigned from his SUS position, but had not formalized his resignation with SSMU. However, instead of holding a by-election, as the SUS constitution requires, the motion would allow the SUS to instead send a proxy to the semester’s four remaining legislative council meetings in Milchberg’s place.
This decision was reached considering the fact that SUS elections for next year have already begun, and if a new person were to be elected to the position immediately, they wouldn’t have enough time to familiarize themselves with the legislative council procedures in just four meetings.
There was pushback to the motion during the question period, with Councillor Sanchez and others questioning whether the decision was constitutional for the SUS. During the vote on this motion, Councillor Milchberg attempted to formally resign from his position in the SSMU Facebook group, however, a resignation from SSMU over Facebook is not considered valid, and this, therefore, did not affect the vote.
Science Councillor Report:
When the proxy for Councillor Milchberg presented the Science Councillor Report, she made reference to the fact that at the SUS General Council meeting on January 23, SUS VP Internal, Zlata Plotnikova, joked that “Science Games are over, nobody died.”
During the question period for the report, SSMU President Mansdoerfer, and Councillors Sanchez and Callaghan all expressed their distaste for the insensitive joke and inquired about specific measures being taken by the SUS to rectify the situation. Sanchez explained, “lots of people at [Legislative] Council were affected by this statement.”
Councillor Milchberg’s proxy explained that the SUS was not aware that a member of the press was at their General Council meeting, and said that Plotnikova was planning to publicly apologize for the joke. However, she reported that no “concrete plans” were being put into place to ensure that such an issue doesn’t arise again, but that the SUS had discussed among themselves why the joke was unacceptable and assured the council that it wouldn’t happen again.
Update on Length of OAP
Engineering Representative Gareth Price presented the Engineering Councillor Report and confirmed that OAP would be taking place on lower field this semester, and will possibly last longer than the customary two days.