Legislative Council discusses Library, President’s Five-Year Plan, Equity, and S/U Policy

The SSMU Legislative Council met on November 5 to discuss several items, including the upcoming referenda on service fees and a new policy to give equity oriented clubs fast-track approval status.

Library Changes
Vice President of University Affairs, Brooklyn Frizzle, highlighted several library initiatives. Immediately, the library plans to offer 175 extra study spaces in Redpath-2. Reservations for these additional spaces will be available online, beginning 24-hours before the desired booking time.. The Fiat Lux project committee is seeking a student representative for its advisory panel. The project is intended to revamp the McLennan library.

Frizzle announced the McGill library’s intention to work with professors to offer course packs via the library rather than the bookstore, in order to alleviate textbook costs. Tentatively planned for 2021, the library hopes to offer course material through MyCourses and with resources already held by the library. Of course, the virtual requirements placed on academics by COVID-19 effectively necessitated this transition in the 2020 Fall semester, but many students were forced to wait for course materials shipped from the McGill bookstore.

SSMU President lays out Five-year plan
President Jemark Earle laid out a five-year plan to the Legislative Council. Following one of his campaign promises, Earle outlined prior problems the SSMU had encountered, especially with regards to the lack of institutional memory. The President’s plan would ask the Legislative Council to guarantee certain projects over the next five years, and plans for new projects to be introduced by subsequent Councils. Among the initiatives he proposed was a doubling of SSMU staff to include a full-time French translator, Ombudsperson, service coordinators, and legal counsel.

New ‘Equity Triage Process’
Vice President Student Life, Maheen Akter, introduced an amendment to the SSMU’s current equity policy. VP-UA Frizzle elaborated that the new equity triage process would allow “student groups that serve communities which are disadvantaged or discriminated against” to have an expedited process for securing certain SSMU supports.

Engineering Representative, Jake Reed, asked whether there was a systemic SSMU issue dealing with student groups’ requests for support.

Akter answered in the affirmative. “There are different reasons for the backlog. It’s absolutely our priority to prioritize equity seeking groups, but also all student groups [to get SSMU support]. It’s very much a systemic problem in SSMU understaffing, but it’s absolutely on our radar.”

Frizzle elaborated on VP Akter’s answer. “In an ideal world we wouldn’t need a triage…[but] we are understaffed … [and] have limited capacity compared to services we want to offer and the student body we have to serve. This amendment is trying to reduce impact on equity-seeking groups that are already disadvantaged.”

The motion passed with twenty-five votes in favour and one abstention.

Vice President Frizzle pushes for S/U option, upcoming fall reading week
Frizzle announced that they have been discussing the reimplementation of the S/U option for the Fall 2020 semester with university administration. They pointed out that many universities in Canada and the United States are allowing a pass-fail option this semester, and advocated for McGill to do the same.

According to Frizzle, the 2021-22 academic calendar reflects the added fall reading week. This comes after years of student campaigning for a fall reading week. Several SSMU Presidents ran on platforms of introducing the break. Former SSMU President Buraga announced in May of 2020 that the administration had agreed to implement a reading week by 2021, and it appears that the promise will be kept.

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