News  SSMU President responds to criticisms from The Daily at Council

Quebec student federation representation also discussed

The Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) held its Thursday bi-monthly Legislative Council meeting at Burnside 511, as part of the Roaming Council initiative that seeks to increase SSMU Councillors’ understanding of the greater McGill community.

After the adoption of the Report of the Steering Committee, Council moved its agenda to attend to a note from President Josh Redel, who commented on The Daily’s recent editorial, “SSMU Council illogical and misguided,” (November 8, page 19) and Compendium! article, “SSMU Council does nothing,” (November 8, page 20) both of which criticized the effectiveness of the SSMU Legislative Council.

In a casual commentary addressed to the councillors, Redel outlined his grievances regarding the pieces and expressed the importance of working past the criticism to create a stronger Legislative Council body. “I’ll be completely honest and tell you that I took it quite personally. I never viewed myself as your superior, and never will. But I do feel like Council is a family whose well-being I am responsible for. As such you can imagine how I felt when that family was criticized,” he said.

Redel further urged members of Council to look beyond the initial frustration to appreciate the criticisms made in the pieces. As members of a transparent body, Redel suggested that this exposure to open assessment be used as a tool to strengthen the dialogue within and between the arguments made in Council.

“On the other hand, when certain pieces decide that childish name-calling is an effective means of communicating a point, you need to laugh it off exactly as that: childish,” he added.

President Redel closed his commentary by reflecting on the Council dynamic in the November 1 session that drew the criticisms – which saw intense debate over a CKUT endorsement that ultimately failed – asking the councillors to acknowledge the purpose of Council as a team.

“You cannot and should not categorically…mistrust other councillors because they hail from a certain faculty,” Redel continued. “If you find yourself discounting someone’s comments and arguments because they are a rogue, radical, moderate, or whatever else you can think of, you need to take a few minutes to revaluate your thought process.”

He concluded, “The power of a body like Council lies in the collective action of people with different thought processes…. Hating or discounting someone because they think differently than you is a slippery slope, and I discourage all from going down that path, though I do not think that you have done that thus far.”

Council then moved into the discussion of McGill’s representation within the Table de concertation étudiante du Quebec (TaCEQ), a federation of Québec student unions of which SSMU is a member.

Led by VP External Robin Reid-Fraser, Council debated the issue of electing delegates to attend TaCEQ meetings on behalf of SSMU and the McGill community in general.

“We technically have four voting seats at these [TaCEQ] meetings, but we very rarely actually use all four of them because rarely are there four SSMU representatives there…these [positions] do not need to be people who are already elected members, if we can run an election next semester just for people who want to take on this role,” Reid-Fraser explained.

Speaking on importance of campus representation in TaCEQ, Faculty of Music Councillor Katie Larson asked, “Should they be representatives from campus, or should they be representatives from the [SSMU] Council, as a whole… to represent the undergraduates strategically?”

After the short consultative discussion on McGill’s representatives to TaCEQ, the agenda moved to a closed members’ feedback session in which the SSMU executives temporarily left the session to allow open debate from the general councillors.

Press was asked to leave Council for the matters of confidentiality.