On November 28, the SSMU Legislative Council held their last meeting of the semester, beginning with a presentation with Professor Fabrice LaBeau, Deputy Provost of Student Life and Learning, who addressed several recent controversies over Hillel Montreal’s free trip to Israel for student executives and dissatisfaction with the McGill Wellness Hub. Next, the council passed a motion regarding council members’ involvement in these trips, and ultimately debated the use of profanity within SSMU communications.
Labeau discusses Wellness Hub, new OSD Note-Taker Policy
Deputy Provost LaBeau also answered questions regarding dissatisfaction with the Rossy Wellness Hub. When asked about the Hub’s wait times, LaBeau noted that wait times for appointments with a Psychiatrist or a Nurse have been reduced to one to two weeks. However, those who want to see a counsellor still face wait times up to six weeks.
Despite the long wait times, counsellors have walk-in hours during the week that are often not used. The question of getting more physicians and nurses for walk-in hours to reduce wait times for the clinic was also raised.
LaBeau explained that physicians have a quota of working hours they must meet per week to be paid by the government, and because the Wellness Hub is not a medical institution, any work that doctors do at the clinic comes is not included in their quota standard. It is therefore very difficult to get physicians for more than a couple hours. Nonetheless, Labeau stated that Student Life and Learning is actively searching for a way for the Hub to be recognized by the government of Quebec as a medical establishment, so that doctors’ hours will count towards this quota.
LaBeau also responded to the new policy in which note takers for the Office of Students with Disabilities (OSD) are no longer compensated. When the note-taking initiative launched, technological outlets for educational purposes including MyCourses and professors lecture recordings that make lecture material more accessible didn’t exist due to limited technology.
Now, with lecture material readily available, Labeau explained that the administration chose to reallocate the budget towards programs that will help the majority of the student body. According to Labeau, this funding will go towards improving MyCourses, to hopefully improve the accessibility of notes and create new software to make computer notetaking more efficient.
Continued discussion of free trips to Israel
LaBeau addressed the ongoing concern of students on campus regarding students’ safety, following the discussion about the free trips to Israel that arose at the last Legislative Council meeting. He urged SSMU members to adhere to McGill’s values of respect and inclusion when dealing with the ongoing and divisive issue.
Council members discussed controversy regarding the free trip to Israel offered by Hillel Montreal, in which various students were invited to Israel-Palestine over winter break.
The Board of Directors (BoD) issued a report stating that student leaders accepting a free trip funded by pro-Israel associations was, in fact, not a conflict of interest. However, council members addressed that the Arts Undergraduate Society will issue a statement expressing profound disappointment with AUS VP Finance Stefan Suvajac and Arts Representative Andrew Chase, who plan to attend the trip. Aimed at Science Representative and BoD member Jordyn Wright, the Science Undergraduate Society has also expressed opposition.
Another motion was brought to the agenda, The Motion Regarding Free Trip Offers to Student Leaders. It called into question leaders’ judgments, focused on those on the BoD, regarding those accepting gifts. Deeming that accepting the trip would in fact pose a conflict of interest, the council added numerous amendments directed at the resignation of Wright, the only member of the BoD who plans to attend the trip. Following the question period and debate, the motion passed, prompting mass outcry over the following week.
Motion Regarding Acceptable Communication Practices
The councilors extensively debated the Motion Regarding Acceptable Communication Practices, a motion proposing to forbid SSMU officials from using “curse words, vulgar language, or swearing” in their communications, such as Facebook and the Listserv. This motion discussed the appropriate use of profanity within SSMU’s motions based on decorum. Some councilors pointed out the irony that the use of the word “fuck” distracted members from discussing the motion itself. Ultimately, the motion passed.