News  PGSS prepares for education summit

Dean’s appointment discussed

The University’s Post- Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS) held their monthly council meeting at the Macdonald campus last Wednesday, which discussed the appointment of a new Deputy Provost (Student Life & Learning), the local education summit the Society will be hosting in early December, and the Society’s relationship to the Legal Information Clinic (LIC) at McGill.

Council entered into a Committee of the Whole to discuss, along with three representatives sent from the LIC, the status of graduate students at the Clinic.

Graduate students pay a $2 fee every semester to the Clinic – undergraduates pay a $3.50 fee – and are entitled to all of their services, including information and advocacy.

PGSS Secretary-General Jonathan Mooney told The Daily, “[PGSS’] real question to them was to what extent, and in what ways can graduate students participate in the governance of the Legal Information Clinic,” he said. “Can we go to your general meetings? Can we vote? Can we see a copy of your financial statements? Can we get a copy of your bylaws?”

According to Mooney, the Clinic has agreed to address the questions of the PGSS executive and appears to be making good faith efforts toward better delineating the relationship between the two organizations.

Council also approved the Executive Committee’s proposal for the McGill education summit that PGSS committed to hosting at their council session in September.

According to PGSS External Affairs Officer Errol Salamon, the summit is meant as a preparation for the provincial summit slated for the spring, but it is also meant as “an alternative summit,” where issues germane to McGill will be tackled.

The proposal outlined the five themes that the summit will revolve around, which include the question of underfunding, international and out-of-province students, tuition, public-private partnerships, and the role of teaching, research, and support staff at the University.

Salamon cited the public-private partnership theme as being of particular importance in the McGill context.

“There has been a lot of unrest on campus at least in the past year or so concerning public-private partnership with regard to food services, securitization on campus, particularly following last year’s events on November 10,” he said.

The first part of the two-day summit – which will most likely take place in the first week of December – will be dedicated to public panels, according to Mooney.

“So you have these studies that come from various different groups saying that universities are underfunded, that they aren’t. We want to actually get those groups together […] explain why they think they are or aren’t, and then let students and faculty members question them. Ask them: why are you making these assumptions?” he explained.

Confirmed participants include members of the administration, representatives from the Fédération étudiante du universitaire Québec, as well as representatives from l’Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante.

Council entered into a Committee of the Whole to discuss the position of the Deputy Provost following a motion brought forward by Members Services Officer Elizabeth Cawley, who is also one of the two students sitting on the advisory committee choosing the candidates considered for the position.

“This is such an important administrator for student views, I really wanted to get the PGSS’ opinions about what qualities and characteristics they felt should be taken into consideration,” she said.

Discussion lingered on the personality of the ideal candidate, rather than on background, and in a phone interview with The Daily, Cawley spoke to the difficulty in gauging something such as personal characteristics, but nonetheless underlined the importance of soliciting as many student perspectives as possible.

“I think everybody thinks it’s a difficult position, and there’s a general anxiety about who this new person is going to be but I haven’t heard enough people’s opinions about it,” she said.