News | SSMU and AUS Council to debate Choose Life status

Notice of motion submitted to SSMU to revoke club status

A motion to suspend Choose Life’s club status was deferred to the next SSMU Council meeting by Speaker Zach Newburgh when Council convened Wednesday. The motion, tabled by VP External Sebastian Ronderos-Morgan and Arts Senator Sarah Woolf, raised eyebrows at SSMU due to the ambiguous meaning of the word “suspension” in the council by laws.

In an effort to clarify the motion, Arts rep Joël Pedneault and Woolf tabled a Notice of Motion for next Council which would “revoke” Choose Life’s club status rather than “suspend” it. According to the SSMU by-laws, a club must also be given a 14 day notice period before revocation of club status is considered by Council.

Due to last week’s Four Floors event in the Shatner building, SSMU Council had to bump up their usual Thursday meeting to Wednesday, which created a time conflict with the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) Council meeting.

While Pedneault and interim representative Connie Gagliardi caucused with SSMU, AUS VP External Marco Garofalo asked the AUS council to give its four representatives to SSMU – Pedneault, Gagliardi, himself, and the interim representative Jade Calver – a mandate on how to vote on the Choose Life motion in SSMU Council. Without Pedneault and Gagliardi present, and in spite of Calver’s vote against the motion, AUS Council approved a motion asking the four to vote against a suspension of Choose Life’s status.

Pedneault said it was “a little bit troubling” that he did not have a chance to discuss the motion in AUS Council. AUS Council will, however, have the opportunity to amend the motion when they meet on November 11 – one day ahead of the next SSMU Council meeting. Pedneault indicated that he would pursue this option, saying, “I will be in touch with people from AUS to see if we can revise this.”

According to VP Clubs and Services Sarah Olle, if the SSMU Choose Life motion passes, it will be the first time the sentence has been applied to a SSMU club.

After leaving AUS Council for SSMU Council, Garofalo tabled a motion to increase the visibility of the SSMU executive on campus. He pointed out that a similar motion to combat low voter turnout had recently expired, and accused the SSMU executive of being out of touch, “What we have here is a SSMU executive that doesn’t really know what the views of the students are.”

The motion proposed that the SSMU executives spend at least two hours outside of their offices every week, on campus, engaging with “disinterested and apathetic students.” It further stipulated that the executives should wear clothing identifying themselves as executives. An amendment was added later extending the terms to non-executive councillors.

VP Internal Alex Brown, one of the executives opposed to the motion, said, “I think you misunderstand our job: we all spend a lot of time talking to students…and a lot of them don’t care.” Brown added that she felt the measure was a “band-aid solution” to a much larger problem. After an almost hour-long debate, a slim majority voted down the motion.

A motion moved by Ronderos-Morgan was unanimously approved in Council to extend candidacy period during executive elections by two business days if only one candidate runs for a position. If a position remains acclaimed, the candidate’s name will still appear on the ballot to be voted on.

Ronderos-Morgan noted that four out of the six current executives were not even on the ballot of last year’s student elections, and that members of Council were disturbed by this trend.

VP University Affairs Rebecca Dooley and other councillors were critical of President Ivan Neilson for not ensuring that the October 21 SSMU General Assembly (GA) was better publicized, after it lost quorum four motions into debate. Referring to the executive’s three-day advertising blitz prior to the GA, Dooley said, “[This] is to me, and to a lot of students who expressed this to me, an unacceptable amount of time.”

Neilson responded by saying that his intention was to have the event fresh in the minds of students when the day came. He also criticized the councillors’ own attendance record, saying, “I don’t think there was enough of an effort.”

Council also passed a motion put forward by Olle to perform an audit of Shatner’s energy efficiency, following up on a similar motion approved in the GA. Olle suggested the audit be performed by BPR, a company that has done similar work for McGill sports facilities and libraries, including Redpath. The audit will likely target Shatner’s lighting, steam heating, cooling, and ventilation.

Olle projected the cost to SSMU will be $10,819, with Hydro-Québec contributing an additional $6,165 to cover the cost. She said the audit should bring down SSMU’s utility bill, which has been between $400,000 and $600,000 for the past 10 years.


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