On September 9, the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) Legislative Council held its first meeting of the new academic year. After executive members, representatives, and senators updated the councillors on their work over the summer, Council discussed four motions, all of which were adopted.
In his report to the Council, VP Finance Mirza Ali Shakir mentioned that over the past year, AUS has suffered from accounting difficulties, including misclassified transactions, that have led to an inaccurate reflection of AUS’s financial position.
According to Shakir, there were many incorrect entries, one of which was “a double entry of [more than] $106,000.” In addition, the fact that there was no VP Finance in summer 2014 to oversee Frosh finances was another factor that contributed to the deficit.
“We started planning Frosh 2015 with the assumption that Frosh 2014 made a $10,000 loss. However, midway through June we discovered that the deficit was actually [$30,250], so we had to adjust the Frosh budget by getting rid of many expenses,” Shakir said in an email to The Daily. “Because AUS is a student organization, it is even more important to demonstrate financial transparency.”
President Jacob Greenspon presented a motion regarding the adoption of a traditional territory acknowledgement, according to which AUS would acknowledge that McGill University is situated on unceded Kanien’kehá:ka traditional territory.
This was the second time such a motion was introduced to Council. According to Arts Senator Erin Sobat, this is because motions passed at AUS “only apply for the mandate of that [particular] Council year, unless something is written into bylaws.”
The motion was first introduced last year as part of a “university-wide push” and a step toward “decolonization,” Greenspon told Council. “It really is a part of a push to get McGill to acknowledge more of the land it occupies.”
In an interview with The Daily, Sobat pointed out the importance of students acknowledging Indigenous territory. “I think it is a starting point for us to develop more initiatives and programs around Indigeneity and decolonization in consultation with Indigenous stakeholders.”
Sobat hopes student associations taking the lead will help improve the relationship between post-secondary institutions and Indigenous communities. “Part of the motivation […] was in looking for McGill to adopt its own territory acknowledgement. It helps if we can point to student associations that are leading the way.”
SSMU also passed a similar motion last year.
The motion passed with a unanimous vote. The traditional territory acknowledgement is to be stated at all AUS Legislative Council meetings and featured on a prominent position on the AUS website.
Motion to hold by-election for Arts Rep to SSMU
A motion to hold a by-election for an Arts Representative to the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) was passed in order to find a replacement for Samiha Sharif, who resigned from the position on September 3. Greenspon proposed a motion for a by-election for the new school year as it is a “more democratic” way to get “a wider pool of people to be involved” than electing from only the members of Council.
While Council voted to hold by-elections toward early October, it also appointed Kat Svikhnushin, who was the Director of Inclusivity and Equity for Arts Frosh and is the VP External of McGill’s Religious Studies Undergraduate Society, as interim representative to attend SSMU Council meetings.