Students vote at the Fall 2014 SSMU General Assembly.

News | Judicial Board petition seeks special General Assembly to debate Palestine motion

Petitioners cite lack of simplified rules, denial of debate as bylaw infractions

Updated November 2, 2014.

Less than a week after its last case was settled, the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Judicial Board (J-Board) has accepted a petition claiming that bylaw infractions occurred during the Fall 2014 SSMU General Assembly (GA) held on October 22. According to the petition, filed on October 29, the failure to adopt simplified rules of procedure for the GA and the indefinite postponement of the GA motion on solidarity with Palestine were violations of SSMU’s bylaws.

The two petitioners ask that the J-Board annul the decision to indefinitely postpone the Palestine solidarity motion and compel SSMU to hold a special GA for the purpose of discussing the motion. At the October 22 GA, the Palestine solidarity motion was postponed indefinitely by majority vote before it could be debated, and cannot be brought for discussion at a GA in its current form until Fall 2015.

“The main purpose [of the petition] really is to have a GA that follows the rules,” one of the two petitioners, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Daily. “It’s also to correct for the fact that the use of indefinite postponement was a violation of the bylaws, and also a violation of the freedom of speech and the freedom of expression that we are entitled to on a university campus.”

The petition names SSMU Council and the Speaker of Council as the respondents. According to J-Board Chief Justice Muna Tojiboeva, a hearing will occur only if a mediation session between representatives of the two parties, which will be confirmed after the two parties provide their factums to the J-Board, proves unsuccessful.

Alleged bylaw infractions

The petitioners claim that the indefinite postponement of the Palestine solidarity motion was a violation of article 5.4 of By-Law I-5, which states that “members present at the General Assembly must be given the opportunity to debate and amend each resolution.” According to the petition, the speaker was at fault for allowing a motion that was in conflict with this bylaw to pass at the GA.

“For students to be denied the right to actually debate and amend the resolution, which is what the bylaw states, that is where the violation was mostly felt around that motion,” the petitioner The Daily spoke to said.

In addition, the petitioners claim that SSMU failed to adhere to article 5.2 of By-Law I-5 in the lead-up to the GA. The article states that, one week before a GA, SSMU must adopt standing rules for the GA that “make Robert’s Rules easier for students to understand.” The article also states that the rules must be “publicized to the membership” at least five calendar days before the date of the GA.

“Looking at all the listservs that were sent by the VP Internal, as well as SSMU’s website, Twitter feed, and Facebook feed going back to September 1, there was no publishing of simplified rules,” said the petitioner. The simplified rules were never adopted by Council nor even drafted, the petitioner claimed.

SSMU President Courtney Ayukawa declined to comment.

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