News  SSMU support AGSEM union drive after council fight

VP Clubs and Services pans motion to compromise with admin on club names

Last night, after heated debate, SSMU Council passed a motion that resolves that “[SSMU] stand in solidarity with AGSEM as they work to unionize course lecturers at McGill.” Management Representative Eli Freedman and Arts Representative Spencer Burger opposed the motion.

Freedman argued that “[SSMU] is overly political” and should not pass such a political motion, while Burger took issue with the potential implications of the motion. “We are here to support students. I wish AGSEM the best, but this will ultimately counter our interests as students,” claimed Burger.

AGSEM, which stands for the Association of Graduate Students Employed at McGill, has recently been the centre of controversy after Provost Anthony Masi ordered a series of its posters taken down across campus. The posters were part of AGSEM’s campaign to unionize McGill course lecturers
Countering Burger’s fears that the motion was too concerned with political ideology rather than student interest, Clubs and Services representative Maggie Knight argued that “in principle, this is about solidarity. In practice, this is very much in the students’ interest.”

Lilian Radovac, a chief unionization drive coordinator, attended council to speak on behalf of AGSEM. She told councillors, “the response on the ground has been extremely positive. The overwhelming majority of people approached on campus have been for the U-Drive.”

Next on the agenda was the Resolution Regarding Compromise Regarding Liability, which resolved “That [SSMU] exemplifies the art of compromise by adding the word ‘Students’ in the titles of the clubs and services.”

The motion was debated but was later committed to go under the review of an interest group committee. Regarding the name changes, VP Clubs and Services Anushay Khan wrote in an email to The Daily, “Both the administration and students are interested in building a sense of community. Why alienate ourselves further from the community for which we are in fact a majority?”

“Soon the administration will want us to remove all and any affiliation with the University,” she added. “If we budge now, the administration will only corner us further.”

During debate, concerns were brought up regarding the feasibility of the motion. Knight asked if it was certain that the Administration would accept the compromise given the magnitude of the task of changing club and group names. Khaled Ramadan, the author of the motion, replied that he wasn’t certain what the administration would do and that it is just a proposition.

Council also passed a resolution regarding the maintenance of SSMU’s liquor license. Despite the passing of the same motion at last week’s General Assembly, Quebec law requires that the current Board of Directors – SSMU’s Legislative Council – pass the legislation. The seven-member Board will be made up of the four executive members who fit the requirements to serve – the President, VP External, VP Internal, and VP Finance – as well as Senator Amara Possian and Knight.

Four guest speakers presented to Council, including Dean of Arts Christopher Manfredi, who discussed improvements in the advising system, and the success of the Arts Internship Office. Manfredi acknowledged budgetary difficulties and questions of allocation within the faculty, but pointed to numerous recent renovations, including the $5-million project to restore the windows and stone facade of the Arts Building.