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Abaki announces longer winter break

The penultimate meeting of SSMU Legislative Council took place last Thursday, where VP University Affairs Joshua Abaki announced that the 2011-2012 winter break will be extended for McGill students. Students will not return to class until January 9. To allow for this, evening exams will be administered during the final examination period.

In his report to Council, VP Finance and Operations Nick Drew expressed concern about the increasing number of students opting out of SSMU fees. In an interview with The Daily, he noted that the opt-out rate increased by roughly 3 per cent over the past year, and suggested that the QPIRG Opt-Out campaign has played a role in this.

“The QPIRG opt-out is spilling over into all of the groups. People are just randomly opting out of things without making an informed decision…It makes SSMU look bad. Opt-out campaigns are hurting everyone across the board,” Drew said.

Drew also discussed Gerts’ upcoming renovations, since recent cost estimates exceeded the expected budget for the project by $300,000. Multiple councillors, including Clubs and Services Representative Max Zidel, expressed concern about the financial feasibility of the endeavour.

“I actually don’t think [SSMU has] the money. I’m under the impression that it doesn’t exist. We’re committed to several other projects right now from CERF [Capital Expenditure Reserve Fund]…I think [Gerts] is a huge part of campus life, we just don’t have the money,” Zidel said at Council.

Drew explained that Gerts is a priority for SSMU, noting that the Society has already paid $8000 in architect fees for the project. He went on to emphasize the bar’s increased revenues this year, and stressed its importance for student life.

The approval of an increased budget for bar renovations was ultimately tabled.

Simon Gosselin, who is running for Secretary General of Quebec Student Roundtable, and Lauran Ayotte, running for Vice-Secretary General, were present at Council. The candidates presented their goals for next year, but voting on the subject was postponed due to a loss of quorum.