News  General Assembly loses quorum

Students approve motions on employment, energy, pornography before assembly falls apart

A t the General Assembly (GA) Wednesday afternoon, attendees voted to encourage student employment in the Shatner building, reduce its energy usage by 40 per cent by 2015, and relax the SSMU Constitution’s attitudes toward non-oppressive pornographic material distributed by SSMU clubs and services.

The first motion, pertaining to student employment, was drafted by SSMU VP External Affairs Sebastian Ronderos-Morgan, During the question period, Ronderos-Morgan stated that the motion was intended to institutionalize an existing – though not formal – policy of encouraging businesses in the Shatner building to employ students. Nobody opposed the motion during the debating period, and when voted upon, it was passed unanimously.

More contentious was the motion proposed by VP Clubs and Services Sarah Olle which called for a professional energy audit and a 40 per cent reduction in the building’s energy consumption by 2015. Olle said that it provided a “reasonable goal which can be achieved” by the deadline, and noted that the target is based on the national average for energy consumption in student-run buildings.

Arts student David Lipsitz expressed concern that there was no mention in the motion or in Olle’s discussion of it of the financial implications of such an undertaking.

“Even though the GA body may not be qualified to pass financial motions, I think it’s absurd that [VP Olle] is withholding information from us simply because she feels we won’t know how to make use of it, or that we are not able to make use of it,” Lipsitz said.

This motion also passed, but with a clear opposition present.

Olle was also the author of the following motion which proposed amending an article in the SSMU by-laws that bans the “marketing or distribution of sexist publications.”

VP University Affairs Rebecca Dooley attempted to explain what was meant by non-oppressive pornographic material, citing “non-normative queer porn, anti-racist porn…not the kind of porn that pops up in your email box by accident.”

After a member of the audience spoke out against the motion, saying that “all porn is inherently degrading,” VP Internal Affairs Alex Brown responded that anti-racist and queer-friendly porn can offer an opportunity for young people to explore their sexuality.

“It’s alienating to some of our members to say what they do or what they like is wrong,” said Brown. Despite a more vocal opposition, this motion passed.

The final motion debated before quorum was lost demanded that SSMU install reading tables in Shatner’s washroom stalls.

This motion failed, and subsequently many supporters of the motion chose to leave the GA, which led the already-dwindling audience to lose quorum, just before several other motions were slated for discussion.

The remaining motions – regarding Styrofoam in the Shatner, the SSMU lease in Shatner, seafood on campus, and McGill’s use of the self-funded tuition model – were tabled until the next GA.

During SSMU President Ivan Neilson’s executive report, those still present learned that in the coming weeks, McGill will be presenting its Revised Research Policy, which will include the information on military research addressed in the Winter 2009 GA, and which will be released and made public before the next Senate meeting on November 4.