SSMU Legislative Council met for the first time this academic year in the Lev Bukhman room of the Shatner building on Thursday, providing new councillors with an opportunity to propose and discuss their new initiatives for the year. SSMU executives presented the formative work they completed over the summer, and sketched out general plans for their portfolios.
Senate Caucus Representative Sarah Woolf questioned President Neilson’s nomination of SSMU Speakers of Council. Woolf asked the Co-Speakers Zach Newburgh and Lauren Hudak to state their current club affiliations, questioning whether the speakers could be trusted to act as impartial facilitators. Newburgh revealed that he is president of Hillel Montreal, which oversees anglophone Hillel organizations across Montreal, but insisted that if any “matters of interest” come up, he will defer to his co-speaker.
Hudak revealed that she had been a member of the McGill club Choose Life, but had stepped down, as she “took this job very seriously, and the impartial nature of it,” and also promised to defer to the other co-speaker in cases where a conflict of interest might arise.
Last year SSMU dealt with the controversial approval of Choose Life as a full-status club, paired with the raucous Gaza motion at last year’s General Assembly.
VP Finance Jose Diaz addressed concerns over clubs getting their funding late by promising speedy election of a finance committee.
The SSMU exec’s summer reports revealed concerted efforts to tighten up and improve SSMU services and facilities, in addition to making them easier to access. VP Clubs and Services Sarah Olle pledged that her initiative to bring room bookings online will be up and running this Monday.
Ask us first
VP University Affairs Rebecca Dooley made a short report from the first Senate meeting, expressing dismay that Principal Heather Munroe-Blum had dismissed the possibility for student consultation in the selection process for a Secretary-General.
She said that the larger issue here was the administration not consulting the governing bodies.
Guest speakers from the SSMU Environment Commissioners presented their work on coordinating different sustainability-oriented groups, and their plan to create a five-year sustainability blueprint.
One of their new initiatives is to encourage each faculty to integrate topics on sustainability into their course curricula, and to set up a faculty roundtable toward that goal.
The Student Movement
VP External Sebastian Ronderos-Morgan presented SSMU’s role in the new student consortium Table de concertation étudiante du Québec (TaCEQ). The group will oppose Provincial Bills 38 and 44 that would impose a quota of external representatives on post-secondary institutions’ boards of directors.
Science Representative Joshua Abaki asked Ronderos-Morgan why SSMU is slated to pay for 40 per cent of TaCEQ’s expenses. Ronderos-Morgan replied that the number was a rough estimation that had been hashed out in consultation with other TaCEQ members, and stated that SSMU only spent $345 to support the student federation during the summer – a figure that he said will not increase in the future.
Ronderos-Morgan also said that he wishes to be a dynamic part of Quebec’s student movement, pushing for accessibility and trying to mend the education funding crisis in Quebec, which he pointed out, “came from Quebec [City] and Ottawa.”
A 10-year plan
SSMU’s five-year lease of the Shatner building will expire in 2011. SSMU President Neilson said that he wants to start negotiating with McGill a year early, in hopes of securing a longer lease this time around.
If this can be done, President Neilson said that SSMU could form long-term plans with building tenants, student-run food establishments, and looking into sustainable infrastructure changes.
Ronderos-Morgan and VP Internal Alex Brown said that they have worked to foster better relations with the Milton-Parc community, specifically the Milton-Parc Citizens Committee. Brown expressed dismay, however, over the recent behavior of Froshies and Frosh leaders, which had further alienated the local community.