News | Students pass referendum questions

Voter turnout barely reaches quorum

The McGill student body voted to pass all three fall referendum questions, approving the renewal of the fee for SACOMSS (Sexual Assault Centre of McGill Student Society), the creation of a SSMU Charity Committee, and voting yes to the plebiscite question regarding a SSMU councillor for the Arts and Science faculty. The number of voters barely passed the 15 per cent quorum, with 15.2 per cent of students voting.

The SACOMSS fee renewal, which takes place every three years, had the highest percentage of student support, with 79.5 per cent of voters choosing to renew the $0.75 fee.

The creation of a SSMU Charity Committee, which passed with 75.8 per cent of the vote, was initially proposed by Max Luke, a student who sits on a Senate subcommittee on the environment.

“It was an idea of mine in late August,” said Luke. “Initially I had the idea to create a charity week or festival on campus that includes all faculties and departments and that’s the core thing: it’s about community building. … It started as an idea to raise money strictly for international aid, but as I spoke to more and more departments and faculties in September and October, I realized that it’s best to open it up, because there are so many views on campus.”

The concept has expanded to include both international and local aid, which will be supported by two different initiatives: the Charity Fund and Charity Week. The Fund will be directed mostly at international aid, and the Week aimed at work in Montreal.

“For the the Charity Festival, I’ve also formed a partnership with a Masters’ student in the school of Social Work, who is doing his thesis on credible financial flows within the United Way Montreal. So they’re affiliated with 300-some local organizations. That’s going to be a big part of the charity festival,” explained Luke.

The fee for the Charity Committee is $0.50 per semester and is opt-outable, although Luke said that in the original concept it was not: “It started out as a non-opt-outable fee, and then through consultation with various people it devolved into an opt-outable fee.”

Although the plebiscite question is not binding, the results showed support for a separate SSMU councillor for Arts and Science students, a faculty whose numbers are currently under the 2,000-minimum for a faculty to be represented at SSMU Council.

Clubs and Services Representative Maggie Knight, one of the councillors who submitted the question to Council, said that the process of consultation taking place will now lead to another referendum question.

Knight told The Daily, “We’re in the process of consulting with all the stakeholders very thoroughly…to make sure that if we take this to a referendum in the winter – which would be what we would have to do in order to amend the constitution to include a seat for Arts and Science students – that we would have a very strong plan, that everyone would have a good degree of certainty about what it would look like.”