After an hour-long debate on Monday, a motion calling for the Engineering Undergraduate Society (EUS) to stand in solidarity with striking non-academic workers was withdrawn.
The McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association (MUNACA) has been on strike since September 1.
EUS representatives to SSMU Alex Kunev and Tariq Khan moved the motion, which called for a speedy resolution to the strike, as well as for “the EUS [to] organize a rally to pressure the McGill administration to put an end to the negotiations insofar as it favors the main demands of the MUNACA.”
Wade Reda, Civil Engineering representative, was the first to speak against the motion.
“I don’t think it’s in our priorities to take a stand with MUNACA, because I personally see MUNACA right now as a kidnapper…you don’t negotiate with kidnappers,” Reda said.
“I think we should take a stance against MUNACA, keep pressure on them, instead of being against our own university,” he continued.
The debate soon split into two camps – one in favour of the motion, and one favouring no EUS position – with the majority of Council falling into the latter.
Connor Simpson, Mining Engineering representative, said it was in the interest of EUS to put pressure on both sides.
“Seeing as EUS has no allegiance to either McGill or MUNACA it seems kind of silly to side with MUNACA,” Simpson said. “I think all that’s in our interest is to have the strike end as quickly as possible.”
David Bailey, Mechanical Engineering representative, noted that, given the controversial nature of the issue, any position would alienate a large number of Engineering students.
“EUS can support one side or the other. It’s really not going to make a huge difference, and the internal divisions that it creates would be a far worse consequence.”
Kunev went on describe how a similar motion recently failed at Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) Council.
“And we don’t want to be AUS Council,” he said.
EUS VP Internal Paul Novel, said that EUS should focus on issues that it has influence over, namely the EUS’ conflict with the administration over its use of the McGill name in its logo, and the administration’s unilateral reappointment of Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Morton Mendelson.
“I think that these issues affect students a lot more, and we have a lot more power over them, and they’re within our mandate as the EUS,” he said.
EUS President Josh Redel said that he didn’t want EUS to “fall into the same hole” as SSMU, which recently renewed its blanket policy supporting worker’s struggles.
“Furthermore, when I’m sitting in my office and they’re holding strike updates outside of it, and they’re proud that they’re disrupting classes and delaying deliveries, I am never going to support that,” Redel said.
“It’s not just McGill that is not negotiating well. To be frank, if over – however many – 28 meetings over four months, neither group can make any progress at any ways to reform, that’s not just McGill,” he continued.
The motion was withdrawn soon after a five-minute recess, in which many councilors took to debating outside the procedural constraints of Robert’s Rules.
After the motion was withdrawn, Khan noted in his report to Council that he was disappointed by some “very hostile comments” he received from other councilors.
“I think we need to get united on many matters over here,” he said. “We fought for the Arch Café, we rallied, but what happened? Nothing happened, because most of us, in our minds, thought that we students cannot do anything about issues going on on the campus.”
He concluded by saying that EUS should be idealistic and realistic at the same time, and that it was his and Kunev’s fault for not consulting further with councillors while drafting the motion.
“We will be re-drafting it, we will be rewriting together, and I encourage you all to work together towards it,” he said.