News | Key findings from Independent Student Inquiry presented at SSMU council

The last SSMU Council meeting of the fall semester began with an update from members of the Independent Student Inquiry into the events of November 10.

The preliminary report, which addresses the Inquiry’s methodologies and data collection strategies, as well presenting a chronology of the events of November 10, was published on December 1. The report’s key findings include misinformation passed throughout the night from McGill staff to students, and the actions of McGill Security to block access to Dawson Hall, where protestors could have escaped riot police.

Arts Representative to SSMU Micha Stettin announced his resignation from his position. He cited the legislative body’s institutional structure as the foremost reason for his resignation. At next week’s Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) council meeting, an interim Arts councillor will be elected from current departmental representatives by secret ballot.

In an email to AUS Council members, AUS President Jade Calver stated that, at the same council meeting, the AUS will decide whether it “deem[s] it necessary to hold an election for a new Arts Representative, or if the person we appoint at council will be able to serve in this capacity until the end of the winter term.”

A motion regarding reform of the SSMU General Assembly (GA) followed a review of the GA performed by the Bylaw Review Committee, as well as an online survey, and two town halls asking students for recommendations.

The motion stated that “all reasonable efforts shall be made to live stream and film the General Assembly,” as well as subsequent procedures outlining that a motion may be put to an online vote with the support of two-thirds of the GA, and shall remain open online for no more than 48 hours following the close of the GA.

There was considerable disagreement about the merits of allowing motions from the floor until the GA commences. SSMU President Maggie Knight argued that motions from the floor “may drive more people to show up to take part in their democratic processes if they don’t know what might happen.” Engineering Representative to SSMU Alex Kunev also highlighted the importance of addressing time sensitive issues that arise between the deadline for approval by Council and the GA.

Arts Representative to SSMU Isabelle Bi argued that the ability to bring motions from the floor could be exploited by special interest groups looking to introduce controversial motions, and that such motions could therefore escape the advanced scrutiny a traditional motion receives.

After debate as to whether motions from the floor should be subject to an online vote, or other systems of ratification before adoption, Council decided to informally consult with the Judicial Board about the constitutionality of an online vote for the GA. Although the vote was falsely recorded in the minutes as having failed, councillors voted in favour of the proposed reforms.

Another close vote concerned a motion to send a letter regarding Dean of Law Daniel Jutras’ investigation into the events of November 10. Jutras’ investigation was commissioned by Principal Heather Munroe-Blum, and stipulated that no individual blame be assigned for the events.

The letter, addressed to the Chair of the Board of Governors, Stuart Cobbett, voiced “serious reservations” regarding the investigation, and expresses, “not only that the current investigation lacks independence, but also that the prior constraints imposed on its scope and process will undermine its credibility in the eyes of the McGill community.” The motion failed with 10 votes for, 10 votes against, and four abstentions after moving to a role-call vote – in which councilors publicly declare their vote – for the first time this academic year.

 

In the printed version of this article, “GA reforms fail at SSMU Council” (News, January 12), it was incorrectly stated that councillors voted to reject the proposed reforms for the General Assembly. In fact, the vote passed after being falsely recorded in the meeting minutes. SSMU Recording Secretary Clare Michela has apologized and corrected the minutes. The Daily regrets the error.


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