On January 16, the first SSMU Legislative Council meeting of the semester took place. The meeting began with an announcement of the Winter General Assembly, which is scheduled for February 21 in the New Residence Hall Ballroom. This was followed by a moment of silence for the victims of the Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, a plane which was shot down shortly after take-off from Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport on January 8, 2020, killing three members of the McGill community, including one student and two alumni.
Modifications to Council Positions
The meeting began with a discussion of modifying the number of voting positions on the SSMU legislative council, as well as revising certain voting rights. The council currently has 35 voting members, with one faculty representative for every 2000 students registered in that school (and a maximum of 4 members per faculty). Non-faculty representatives such as Services, Clubs, First Year Council, Senate Caucus, and Athletics have a set number of seats that faculty enrollment does not affect.
Councillors voted on a motion to lower the Legislative Council’s voting members from 35 seats to 30 and to add additional non-voting seats for the Macdonald Campus Students’ Society (MCSS), Equity Commissioner, and representatives for the SSMU Indigenous Affairs Committee. The rationale for adding these seats is to lower the amount of overlapping representation within the council and to create more proportional faculty representation.
Another proposed modification to the motion was to rescind the voting rights for executive members of the SSMU council. Science Representative Rohan Bhuktar rebutted this, stating that the SSMU executives vote as a single block. Engineering Representative Mustafa Fakih stated that, due to their experience, the SSMU executives should retain their voting status.
A majority in voted in favour of executive members retaining their voting rights.
Next, councilors discussed whether the Faculty of Arts is over-represented in SSMU. The Faculty of Arts has the most representatives on the SSMU legislative council, with three sitting members. In addition, there are other members of the legislative council enrolled in the Faculty of Arts whose positions are not related to academics.
To this point, Arts Representative Shreya Dandamudi explained that the ratio of one representative per 2,000 students exists so that faculties can have representatives proportional to their size. Councillor Chase responded that the Faculty of Arts is the largest faculty and has the most diversity, and therefore benefits from more representation in the SSMU.
Motion to Make Clubs SSMU’s Highest Priority
VP Student Life Billy Kawasaki stated that a motion passed in the 2018-2019 school year failed to include a plan to ensure that clubs would be prioritized. Kawasaki reported that this year, the SSMU plans to outline actionable steps to prioritize communication and information dissemination to clubs and services. This act would expire in 2024 and aims to cover a range of 50 to 100 clubs. The council voted to pass the motion to an ad hoc committee.
Motion to Endorse the Student Mobilization Against Bill 21
Bill 21 was introduced in early 2019 and is known as the Law Against Religious Freedoms. The bill bans the wearing of religious symbols for many public service employees in Quebec, such as police officers and judges. In response to student protests in Quebec, the SSMU proposed a motion to endorse the mobilization of McGill students against Bill 21. This motion passed without opposition, and was therefore adopted by unanimous consent.