On Thursday October 8, the Students Society of McGill University’s (SSMU) Legislative Council met. The following motions were debated, and appear here based on their direct implications for activities within the McGill community; the omitted Motion Condemning the GNL Québec-Gazoduq Énergie Saguenay Project may be found here.
The Motion Regarding Amendments to the Equity Policy to Ensure Equitable Communications Practices was approved with a vote of 22-1, with 3 abstaining. Moved by VP University Affairs Brooklyn Frizzle, and seconded by Arts Representative Libby Williamson, this motion addresses tone-policing and the potential harm in overly technical jargon. The motion implies a double standard of tone-policing by which marginalized and oppressed peoples experience harsher judgment than their counterparts on language and tone in speech, rather than for their substantive arguments. Profane or informal language, while “discouraged in office settings”, may now be used “expressively to illustrate severity or evoke emotion” in future SSMU-affiliated communications which in turn must be “accessible and anti-oppressive”; while published SSMU communications will come with a content warning if questionable language is used. The SSMU will refrain from using language deemed “overly technical” in future published communications. This motion was previously rejected for ratification at the SSMU Board of Directors by vote.
The Motion Regarding Increase and Scope of the Mental Health Fee was approved with a vote of 17-5, with 0 abstaining. Moved by VP Student Life Maheen Akhter and seconded by AUS VP External Libby Williamson, this motion seeked to increase the Mental Health Fee paid via tuition from $0.40 to $1.66. With this funding increase, the wellness portal WellnessWorld may be added to myCourses, further centralizing mental health and personalized wellness resources from McGill and beyond. The pandemic has produced a “global uncertainty” that only compounds the academic pressures for all post-secondary students, the bill says. Centralizing resources and services into a single location, then, would make them more accessible for students as a whole. The Council approved that the following question be added to Fall 2020 referendum period: “Do you agree to renew the ‘Mental Health Fee’, payable by all SSMU members starting Winter 2021 until Fall 2023 (inclusive), with an understanding that a majority ‘No’ vote may result in the inability to implement this project? Do you agree to increase this fee by $1.26 from $0.40 to $1.66 per student per semester?”
The Motion Regarding Renewal of the SSMU Ambassador Fee was approved with a vote of 20-4, with 1 abstaining. Moved by VP Finance Gifford Marpole and seconded by Nursing Representative Alaina Ge, this motion seeked renewal for the per-term $2.00 SSMU Ambassador Fee. This opt-outable fee was set to expire in the Fall 2020 term, leaving SSMU and McGill-affiliated groups without the entailed subsidy for paid admission to “external conferences and competitions.” “In 2019 alone,” the motion claims, “the fee’s demand highly surpassed the amount actually available in the fund.” If the fee is not renewed, the bill continues, “many SSMU Clubs and other student groups will not have the monetary capacity to pursue involvement in external conferences and competitions.” For the Fall 2020 referendum period, the Council approved this question: “Do you agree to the renewal of the opt-outable SSMU Ambassador Fee at $2.00 per term for all part-time and full-time Members of the SSMU, to start in Winter 2021 and be charged until Fall 2025 (inclusive), with the understanding that a majority ‘no’ vote will result in the discontinuation of the fee and impact student group’s ability to pursue involvement in external conferences and competitions?”
The Motion Regarding the Renewal of the Musician’s Collective Fee was moved by Akter and seconded by Senate Caucus Representative Darshan Daryanani. This motion seeked renewal for the $0.10 SSMU Ambassador Fee, set to expire in the Fall 2020 term. With the impending “financial strain” averted, the SSMU Musician’s Collective Fee could operate for four more years, also maintaining its free-of-charge “jam space” for McGill students. For the Fall 2020 referendum period, the Council approved this question: “Do you agree to the renewal of the opt-outable Musicians Collective Fee of $0.10 per student per semester, payable by all undergraduate students who are members of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU), starting Winter 2021 and ending in Fall 2025 (inclusive), with the understanding that a majority ‘no’ vote will result in the Musician’s Collective being unable to operate at its current capacity?”
The Motion Regarding the SSMU Daycare Fee for Fall 2020 Referendum was approved with a vote of 19-1, with 2 abstaining. The SSMU Daycare provides services to parent members of the McGill community (students/employees). Part of the Daycare initiative’s funding is governmentally subsidized. Moved by Akter and seconded by Chip Smith (Arts Councillor), the motion seeked renewal of the $2.50 fee, set to expire in the Fall 2020 term. In addition, raising the fee to $3 was proposed to cover “any additional expenses as needed”. For the Fall 2020 referendum period, the Council approved this question: “Do you agree to the renewal and increase of the non-opt-outable SSMU Daycare Fee from $2.50 to $3.00 per term for all part-time and full-time Members of the SSMU, to start in Winter 2021 and be charged until Winter 2026 (inclusive), with the understanding that a majority ‘no’ vote will result in the SSMU Daycare being unable to operate at its current capacity?”
For a greater understanding of the SSMU’s legal reference points, the SSMU Positions Book may be found here.
Non-member students may register to view SSMU Legislative Council sessions from the gallery. Note that the upcoming session on Thursday, October 22 will feature guest speakers Shona Watt of the McGill Office of Sustainability and Mackenzy Metcalfe of the Undergraduates of Canadian Research-Intensive Universities (UCRU). The meeting’s tentative agenda may be found here.