SSMU General Assembly to Address Controversial Issues

Today, The SSMU General Assembly (GA), is anticipated to draw a large crowd once again as controversial issues are expected to mobilize the student body. The most anticipated motion, The Motion Regarding Divestment from Companies Profiting from the Illegal Occupation of the Palestinian Territories, was moved up on the agenda during the beginning of the assembly.

To anticipate the large turnout and to avoid the issue of capacity faced during the last GA, the Meeting is being held in Leacock 132, with a simultaneous live stream occurring upstairs in Leacock 232. Students who are not able to sit in 132 but still wish to vote are allowed to come down and leave their student ID with a staff member in order to gain a temporary pass to enter 132.

Moodwatchers will be available during the GA to provide Peer Support to anyone feeling uncomfortable during the debate.

Motion Regarding Divestment from Companies Profiting from the Illegal Occupation of the Palestinian Territories

Though the title of the motion is self explanatory it also outlines a specific set of mandates and objectives to achieve this goal. This motion was moved by petition.

The motion cites the SSMU Equity policy which states that “the SSMU- an organization working with individuals, in groups, within organizations, and across a wide social and political context- shall promote a functional anti-oppressive environment” while reaffirming that divestment from companies profiting from the occupation of Palestine is a growing trend amongst labor organizations and universities .

The motion specifically cites Oshkosh, RE/MAX, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Volvo and RE/MAX.

The motion mandates that the SSMU President champion divesting, requiring the president to discourage investment in companies profiting from the occupation, lobby the Board of Governors to divest by reading and discussing  a statement regarding divestment from the occupation at every Board of Governors meeting, and finally, to educate members of SSMU about divestment through a listserv each semester and social media campaigns.

Finally, the motion would require the VP External to work with Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights to mobilize the McGill community around issues regarding divestment for companies profiting from the occupation of Palestine.

The motion stipulates that there requirements will be binding for five years.

Motion Regarding the SSMU’s Policy on Accessible Education

The motion, brought forward by Amina-Moustaqim-Barrette, the sitting SSMU VP external affairs, along with three members of the the SSMU council, including Kareem Ibrahim, candidate for SSMU president, would require that the SSMU oppose any future non-consensual tuition hikes on any student regardless of program or tuition status . Furthermore, the motion would require that SSMU work with other Quebec and Canadian institutions to achieve this goal.

The motion comes in response to recent deregulation of tuition fees in six programs and a 180% increase in French tuition.

Motion Regarding Unpaid Internships

The motion requires that SSMU take a variety of actions to increase the availability of paid internships to McGill students and discourage the promotion of unpaid internships: The motion stipulates that the SSMU should lobby the McGill administration to remove or reduce tuition fees associated with students who receive academic credit for unpaid internships. Furthermore, SSMU would be required to pressure the university “to immediately and permanently stop posting, circulating, promoting, crediting, or otherwise accepting the legitimacy of all internships” while working with the Faculty of Arts Internship Office to increase the number of paid internships available to students. Similarly, the motion states that the VP External Affairs advocate for fair treatment of student workers and denounce unpaid work through available online channels such as the SSMU website, Facebook, and Twitter accounts.

Expected Motions from the Floor

Motion to Stand in Solidarity with Students and Protesters Demanding Democratic Government Worldwide, in particular, Hong Kong was brought forth at the Fall 2014 General Assembly. Due to the motions lack of focus and clarity regarding the position it would require the SSMU to adopt it was tabled until the Winter 2015 General Assembly. The motion is expected to be brought from the floor.

There has been online activity via social media towards a potential motion brought forward from the floor concerning the current proposal for women only gym hours. The proposal, brought forward by two Faculty of Law students, has been hotly contested. Supporters of the proposal assert that the female-only hours would benefit religious students as well as women seeking a more comfortable, supportive environment. Opponents claim that all students should be treated equally and that choosing not to exercise around men is a choice that should not affect the rest of the student body. It has not been confirmed that the topic will be brought up at the GA today.

A live stream of the GA can be accessed here.