The fall 2010 General Assembly (GA) in the Shatner cafeteria passed every motion on the agenda last week, but struggled to maintain quorum throughout the proceedings, prompting questions about advertising efforts and the viability of the structure of the GA. SSMU President Zach Newburgh thought that the poor turnout “displayed the need to review the General Assembly,” and that SSMU should explore “another mechanism by which the average student can engage in the legislative process.”
The motions passed included a mandate for SSMU to refer to itself as the “Students’ Society of The Educational Institute Roughly Bounded by Peel, Penfield, University, Sherbrooke, and Mac Campus” (SSTEIRBBPPUSAMC) for the duration of 2010, the formation of a SSMU Board of Governors (BoG) in order to maintain SSMU’s liquor license, and the abolition of gender parity in speaking privileges at GAs and Legislative Councils.
The creation of a seven-member BoG for SSMU was approved in order to maintain the liquor license. In consultation with their lawyers, SSMU discovered that it was in violation of Quebec provincial law, which mandates that the holder of a liquor license be Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Quebec.
A motion for SSMU to use Copi-EUS, a student-run printing service, for all printing jobs exceeding the capacity of the SSMU office printer, faced concern about SSMU being forced into a monopoly. The motion was passed with an amendment stating that SSMU “strongly consider” using the service.
Gerts Volume Regulation
An attempt to place a decibel cap on volume for Gerts passed, though an amendment eliminated the decibel limit in favour of a consensus of a majority of Gerts patrons regarding reasonable volume levels.
EUS member William Farrell authored a motion that would require SSMU to host a bake sale to raise funds for the AUS executive, which has posted a deficit this year. AUS President David Marshall commented on EUS’ lack of collaboration with AUS, saying, “We do have plans to get on track and do amazing things with our funds, so if a bake sale were to happen, we would most likely be donating the money to a charity.” The motion passed with an amendment that would donate the funds to a not-for-profit organization.
In response to the administration’s recent movement to disassociate the McGill name with certain clubs and services, the motion regarding liability detailed a plan for SSMU to refer to itself as SSTEIRBBPPUSAMC. Author Eli Freedman defended the resolution, saying, “This is a joke, but it is a joke with a very serious punchline. I personally find [the administration’s actions] to be belittling to the students. … Using the new title will force an uncomfortable conversation with the administration.”
VP Clubs & Services Anushay Khan voiced concern about logistical difficulties and the potential blow to SSMU’s reputation. “The acronym SSMU has become popular for its reputation and credibility not only internally but externally as well,” she pointed out. “This takes away the reputation we worked for 102 years to create. … We are consistently sidelined from the community, why alienate ourselves further from our campus?”
The resolution to abolish gender parity in speaking privileges passed with little debate. After the vote, Senator Amara Possian explained her disappointment with the decision and the method of debate surrounding it. “It’s not necessarily that I have a problem with a motion itself, it’s the process, because I think that the way the motion was passed is potentially offensive to a lot of people. A lot of white males in lab coats abolishing gender parity doesn’t make sense.” The policy for gender parity “took years to put in place because it is important to a large number of students, and the fact that 100 students can vote it down with no debate is ridiculous. This is a highly sensitive issue, and it needs to be discussed.”
Student Equity Commissioner Emily Clare echoed Possian’s sentiment, remarking that the resolution was unclear. “I think the issue was rooted in a misunderstanding about what gender parity really is. It’s not correlated with the percentage of the population [of males and non-males] in the student body, it’s more about the structure within SSMU. It’s too bad that it passed.”