The Post Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS) Council met for the first time this semester last Wednesday evening to vote on a course of action regarding the findings of two reports about November 10, a more transparent budget for PGSS, and a motion to censure the Council Commissioner.
The Council passed a motion in support of the existence of the Independent Student Inquiry, a group of students who released a preliminary report on December 1, 2011 on the events of November 10. The motion also thanked Dean of Law Daniel Jutras for his report, requested by Munroe-Blum, which was released on December 15.
After the meeting, PGSS President Roland Nassim spoke about the hour-long discussion on both the Jutras report and the Student Inquiry’s preliminary findings, which included a presentation by Chris Bangs, a representative of the Student Inquiry.
“It seems that there’s an acceptance of both findings to some extent. They didn’t fulfill what we wanted [and] there are still some things that are unanswered – like the lack of an SMS notice [from McGill automated emergency notification service],” Nassim said.
A second motion gave PGSS the mandate to lead a critical discussion about the Jutras Investigation based on concerns raised in Council, and in Jutras’ report, at the first McGill Senate meeting of 2012. Art History and Communication Studies representative Gretchen King moved the motion.
Concerns included police presence and behaviour on campus on November 10. An amendment passed for PGSS to advocate for the review of other universities’ policies regarding police on campus.
The motion also includes support for the creation of a Community Review Panel. The proposed panel, advocated by King, would be involved in reviewing any future situations similar to November 10 and could potentially include undergraduate students, graduate students, support and administrative staff, and faculty.
“Yes, people shared their reservations about certain things,” said King after the meeting. “But people were generally in consensus that PGSS should act.
Nassim, one of four PGSS senators, said they would meet before next week’s Senate. “We’ll have to talk with the other senators about how we interpret the discussion today.”
“I think we have to ask what the next plan is and how we are going to integrate ourselves with it, and then we can decided what exactly Council wants us to say or do,” he continued.
Other business included a presentation by Provost Anthony Masi and Vice-Principal (Research and International Relations) Rose Goldstein on McGill’s Strategic Research Plan, as well as a report from PGSS VP Finance Adrian Kaats concerning the PGSS’ budget. Changes included the elimination of the Executive Portfolio Budgets.
“In the past each executive essentially had a discretionary spending line. The first step in budgeting this year was to consolidate each of the individual executive portfolio lines into one, and force the executive to discuss amongst ourselves what appropriate spending is so that nobody can go rogue, so to speak,” Kaats said in his report.
The meeting concluded with a motion of censure, also moved by King, against Council Commissioner Jonathan Mooney. The motion failed by a large margin.
King cited three reasons for her motion to censure: the lateness and incompleteness of Council packets – which are distributed to councillors before each meeting including motions and agendas – as well as the lack of regular announcements about availability of childcare, and equity concerns.
“For me, it was important that this motion open up a dialogue where we could collectively address these issues,” King said.
A motion to censure is the only way a Council discussion pertaining to an individual can be initiated.
Nassim told The Daily that there were problems with the preparation of the Council packages and problems on the Council floor. “There’s no denying about that,” he added.
“Personally, I think that PGSS lacks a clear guideline of who does what. In fact, some of the things that Jonathan has been accused of are actually responsibilities of the President … so I do take some of that responsibility,” Nassim continued.
VP External Marieve Isabel, who spoke against the motion to censure, said she felt the motion was “a point of discussion” adding, “It’s a team effort.”
Mooney told The Daily he plans to address the concerns voiced in the meeting.
“I’ll look at the concerns that were raised in the discussion and, in consultation with other executives and councillors, try to, again, strike the best balance between enforcing the rules, and making sure that the process goes forward in the best way possible.”