Correction appended November 7
The Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) will hold a General Assembly (GA) for its constituents at 5 p.m. tomorrow in the SSMU cafeteria.
Motions to be debated regard a one-day student strike, AUS support of striking union McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association (MUNACA), and support for the McGill chapter of the QPIRG, among others.
Several members of AUS Council said that they were not aware of when, if ever, the last faculty-wide GA had been held.
The AUS Constitution includes one article on a faculty-wide GA, and outlines basic logistics for organizing the event. However, the five sections of the article do not provide detailed instructions for the procedure of a GA, and there are no by-laws on the matter.
Arts Representative to SSMU Jamie Burnett spoke to the content of the article.
“It’s not clear at all. According to the Constitution, you wouldn’t even know that General Assemblies were something where motions were submitted – so there’s literally no procedure,” he explained.
AUS President Jade Calver said in an email to The Daily that by-laws would be necessary for the organization of future GAs. “I think a working group or another form of consultative body to assess the successes and the shortcomings of our GA will be necessary to help us determine the shape of the AUS GA by-laws,” she wrote.
Calver added that “the AUS is actually required by law to hold a General Assembly, so I think this a great start to institutionalizing the GA in the Faculty of Arts.”
She later clarified that the “Act Regarding the Accreditation and Financing of Student Associations actually only states that we pass fees through a student vote – the AUS has regularly held referendum periods to both renew as well as approve any fees paid by Arts Students. It doesn’t make reference to General Assemblies.”
According to Article 17 of the AUS Constitution, a GA can be convened “at the request of eight councilors or by a request signed by at least 200 members of the AUS.” Burnett said that, although some Arts councilors were involved in organizing the GA, the call for convening a GA came from a motion signed by over 300 students.
AUS represents 7,515 McGill students. Quorum for the GA is set at 150 Arts students. SSMU GAs have quorum of 100 students; the SSMU Constitution stipulates a quorum of 500 students for strike votes. No such clause exists in the AUS Constitution.
Motions were due last Thursday, five days before the GA. Despite a notice on the Facebook event stating that motions would be released Friday, AUS Speaker Ben Lerer told The Daily that the eight motions would be published on AUS’ website over the weekend.
Amber Gross, U2 Arts, is one of the authors of the motion for a one-day student strike.
She explained that the motion is to “address the tuition hikes that are coming, and [it’s] sort of in line with all the other student unions across Quebec who have also voted to strike on November 10 to attend the demonstration that’s going to happen in Montreal.”
“So far, there’s 110,000 students who are in associations that have voted to strike and there will definitely be more to come, so the idea is just a one-day student strike that Arts students will be attending,” Gross added.
Concordia Arts and Science undergraduates voted last week for a student strike on November 10. At the time of press, the Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (ASSÉ) reported that associations representing over 130,000 Quebec students have strike mandates for November 10.
Sheehan Moore, a bargaining member for the Association of McGill University Support Employees (AMUSE) and former Daily Design and Production editor, submitted a motion regarding AUS support of MUNACA. The motion calls for AUS to officially support MUNACA during its strike and for the AUS Executive to be mandated to encourage members to support the union.
Moore spoke about a similar motion that was recently voted down by AUS Council.
“I was disappointed with the position AUS took at Council in September, particularly the number of ‘no’ votes that were entirely based on people claiming they weren’t informed about the strike – even though they knew the motion was coming, they didn’t bother to inform themselves,” he said.
“It’s now important that we, as students, do something about it, and I think it’s great that the GA will now give that motion another chance.”
A motion to support the ongoing existence referendum of QPIRG was submitted by Arts Representative to SSMU Micha Stettin.
“The AUS should be supporting initiatives that take student organizations back under student control,” Stettin said.
He added that the referendum question, which includes a change to the opt-out system, will “put QPIRG back in student hands, where QPIRG will be able to control the refund process, and students as a whole will be able to control the refund process through QPIRG’s democratic processes.”
According to Calver, AUS sent a message to Arts students over its listserv, and social media has been used to promote the GA. Postering and additional listserv promotion will begin November 7.
Burnett spoke to the importance of the GA. “With everything that’s been going on on-campus this semester, in terms of MUNACA, in terms of tuition hikes, in terms of all these conversations about student consultation… I think it’s really important that we have that sort of a forum within the AUS to talk about these things and make real, meaningful decisions,” he said.
A previous version of this article quoted Calver only as saying that AUS is required by law to hold General Assemblies. She clarified via email that the Act Regarding the Accreditation and Financing of Student Associations does not make reference to General Assemblies, however, this clarification was made after The Daily went to press.