News  Fall referendum begins

Students lobby for votes, hope to reach quorum

Voting for SSMU’s fall referendum will run from November 6 to 12, and is now open online and at polling stations around campus. The “Yes” committees for the three referenda questions presented their arguments to a room full of First Year Council hopefuls and student press Friday in the Shatner building.

Speaking first was Jonathan Glencross, U3 Environment, on behalf of the Sustainable Projects Fund. If passed, the fund will provide the University with a large sum of money to distribute to projects aimed at making McGill more sustainable, especially, Glencross said, at culture-changing, behaviour-changing projects.

The administration has committed approximately $1.3 million to the project, but only so long as the students vote to match these funds. The referendum will create a non-opt-outable 50-cent fee on every credit (capped at 15 credits per student), toward this goal.

Glencross left immediately after speaking, hurrying off to lobby other student groups to support the question.

“There are thousands of not currently engaged, but not necessarily apathetic, students at McGill who are literally gleaming when I talk to them in class – they’re so excited,” Glencross said. “Yet, in the past three months leading up to this, a lot of the people actively involved were very concerned about the student perception – how the money was going to be spent. Clearly, they’re not representative of the average student.”

The next speaker was SSMU President Ivan Neilson, who addressed the audience on behalf of VP Clubs and Services Sarah Olle, in support of the “Ambassador Fee,” a one-dollar opt-outable fee that would create a fund for groups to travel to academic and extra-curricular competitions.

“Trips are still able to happen, but they’re just not as accessible to all students because the cost is more, and we would like to [help out] with that,” Neilson said.

The final speakers were Kelly McMillan and Charles Gauthier, law students who help run the McGill Legal Information Clinic (MLIC). As per the Administration’s new policy, groups such as the MLIC, who have a Memorandum of Agreement with the University, have to go to referendum every five years to maintain their funding.

The speakers emphasized the legal information and advocacy services the MLIC has provided to students and members of the Montreal community since 1976, and that they are the only organization on campus providing legal assistance to students.

McMillan and Gauthier were frustrated by the time and energy running a referendum every five years has taken away from their work, but stated that this proces was a good opportunity for students to learn about and show their support for the service.

Neilson and Glencross both said that it is important for students to vote, as the 2008 fall referendum did not reach quorum.

The Daily’s referendum endorsements

Sustainable Projects Fund: Yes
This large fund for sustainable projects has been the result of months of planning and lobbying, and presents a real step for the McGill student body and administration. The fund will be overseen by a committee made up of equal parts students and administration appointees, and will decide which student or University proposals should receive money. The 50 cents levied per credit are no big thing, but can create big change (especially because the administration will be matching student contributions). Let’s get a whole bunch of YES votes tallied to show the administration that students really care about this issue.

Ambassador Fee: Yes, with reservations
This one-dollar opt-outable fee will enable a more active student life for those clubs that travel. Currently, these clubs do so largely without assistance, but this fee will enable them to lower their costs and make these trips more accessible. While we support this motion, we encourage transparency from the committee that will ultimately decide which groups will receive this funding.

MLIC Fee Renewal: Yes
The McGill Legal Information Clinic (MLIC) is an invaluable resource for students and members of the Montreal community – as well as a practical learning tool for students in McGill’s Law Faculty. The MLIC must now go to referendum, putting their funding up to a vote every five years, so an overwhelming yes vote would prove that students value these resources.