Only two of seven motions were passed as binding decisions during SSMU’s 2012 Winter General Assembly (GA), as the necessary quorum of 100 students lasted for less than two hours. SSMU Legislative Council will discuss all other motions passed next week.
Before the agenda was approved, students Zach Newburgh and Brendan Steven moved a motion from the floor “in support of an independent judiciary.” The motion sought to reinstate Judicial Board (J-Board) activities immediately.
The SSMU Board of Directors (BoD) suspended all J-Board activities last week citing a legal need to clarify their relationship with the J-Board in the SSMU Constitution. The decision suspended a J-Board case Newburgh and Steven filed disputing the results of QPIRG referendum question last November.
During debate on the motion, Newburgh said he considered the BoD decision “entirely out of order, illegal, and an affront to democracy in our Society.”
“I am concerned about the faultiness of the advice that the SSMU lawyer provided to the SSMU, our corporation, our student union,” he continued.
After a vote and a reconsideration vote, the motion did not attain the two-thirds majority necessary to be added to the agenda.
Following the executive reports, the motions “Regarding the Selection of the Financial Auditor” and “Regarding Student-Run Café” – both moved by VP Finance and Operations Shyam Patel – passed.
However, quorum was lost halfway through debate on the motion “Regarding Frosh Reform,” rendering the GA a consultative body with no binding decision-making power.
The Frosh Reform motion passed, as well as a motion regarding policy on negative corporative influence on campus moved by Clubs and Services representative Adam Winer, the latter after intense debate.
Winer responded to student concerns that severing ties with corporations could harm potential student employment.
“We live in a social context, and you cannot just abstract away from that and use finding jobs as a way to obscure that entire discussion,” said Winer.
The motion “Regarding a Student Strike Solidarity Fund,” which would provide assistance to students affected by an extended student strike, also fuelled extensive debate before passing.
“If you want to protest, fine…that’s your right. But ultimately, Gandhi did not ask for a handout and neither should any of you here,” said one member of the assembly, speaking against the motion.
The last motion to be discussed, “Regarding the Commission of a Portrait of Karl Marx,” was the only motion that failed to pass.
Other motions passed by the consultative body included a motion “Regarding the Denouncement of Bill C-10,” and a motion to lobby SSMU Council to buy chess sets for Gerts.
SSMU President Maggie Knight spoke to The Daily after the GA about the chronic lack of attendance at GAs.
“We could have offered food, but you know that’s expensive, so people would get upset about that. There are tales about a lack of successful process out of the [Arts Undergraduate Society] GA last night – that may have put some other students that are not in the Arts faculty off,” said Knight.
Knight also referred to the extensive debate at the start of the GA.
“We were very bogged down in procedural matters at the start of the GA, which delayed things and probably made people a little bit more frustrated … I think that there is also a responsibility for all students who attend the GA to act in good faith with the process and try to facilitate a meaningful exchange of ideas,” she added.