EDITORIALS | Winter 2016 SSMU special referendum endorsements


Although the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) membership fee has remained constant (when adjusted for inflation) since 2007, SSMU has grown at a rate far exceeding the increase in student enrolment. Service provision and support for student groups have increased, while the number of SSMU clubs has more than doubled since 2005. This expansion has not only resulted in financial strain, but has also put significant pressure on the the SSMU executive in recent years. With the goal of addressing these problems, SSMU is running two questions in a special referendum taking place from January 27 to 29.

Increase of the SSMU membership fee – YES

The $5.50 per semester increase in the membership fee would address SSMU’s current budgetary constraints, which have led to insufficient funding for building maintenance and space improvements. In addition, the fee increase comes with clear benefits for students: increased funding for mental health initiatives and student space improvements, additional and better-paid student staff positions, and expanded support for student groups through an increase of $25,000 to the Club Fund and a 15 per cent reduction to the leases of student group tenants. The increase would also make the proposed creation of a seventh executive position more feasible, which The Daily also endorses.

Readers should note that the Daily Publications Society holds an interest in the outcome of the SSMU membership fee increase referendum, as it is a student group tenant in the SSMU building.

Restructuring of executive portfolios – YES

SSMU executives often work upward of 85 hours per week when their contracts stipulate 70, an already high number. This has led to burnout among executives, which affects their ability to effectively meet the needs of their constituents. It also negatively impacts the quality of knowledge transfer between executives each year, further perpetuating disorganization and inefficiency.

The proposed executive restructuring, which involves the addition of a seventh executive position, is the most cost-effective way to alleviate this strain. The new VP Operations position would lighten the workload of executives with advocacy-based portfolios by centralizing administration and bureaucracy, thus increasing the overall efficiency of the SSMU executive. While the restructuring would impose an additional $35,000 cost annually, the work done by this additional executive would otherwise be done by hired support staff, which is ultimately more expensive by the hour. For these reasons, The Daily endorses a ‘yes’ vote for this question.

—The McGill Daily editorial board

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