The Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) held its bi-weekly Council meeting last Wednesday and adopted all six of the proposed questions to be asked in the upcoming referendum period, as well as a motion regarding AUS’s support for the creation of an Indigenous Studies Program.
Indigenous Studies Program
In Council on October 2, Arts Senator Claire Stewart-Kanigan presented a notice to motion regarding support for an Indigenous Studies Program at McGill.
The motion to support the program was then presented at the meeting last week, and passed unanimously. The motion mandates the AUS to adopt a stance of support for the proposed Indigenous Studies minor, the eventual development of an Indigenous Studies major, and the prioritization of the creation of a Chair in Indigenous Studies.
According to Stewart-Kanigan, the proposal for an Indigenous Studies program has been finalized and submitted to the Arts Curriculum Committee.
Stewart-Kanigan said that there has been a push by students in the past to have such a program, but as students graduate and move on every year, it becomes easy for such projects to get lost.
“The students were met with active faculty cooperation in this [proposal]. […] Now that there’s an actual proposal, there is an actual vote [where] we can say that we support a certain side,” said Stewart-Kanigan in an interview with The Daily.
“When it does come up for consideration at the curriculum committee, and at the Faculty of Arts committee, and each subsequent level that the proposal has to go through, there will be strong student support that can be called upon that will perhaps influence the considerations,” she continued.
Two of the proposed referendum questions deal with increasing the number of representatives on Council – including the addition of an Equity Committee Representative and a Financial Management Committee Representative.
In an interview with The Daily, Stewart-Kanigan said that she strongly supported the addition of an Equity Committee Representative to Council.
“Having someone who is highly sensitized to oppressive behaviours […] can add a useful dimension to not only the discourse itself, but the way the discourse happens in AUS Council,” Stewart-Kanigan explained.
“Given that the Equity Committee has been firmly established, the VP Internal [Enbal Singer] thought it would be a good idea to have a representative from the Equity Committee on AUS Council to institutionalize equity, to make sure that equity is involved with the AUS and they have a mechanism to report to the Council,” said AUS President Justin Fletcher in an interview with The Daily.
Other questions included amendments to the AUS Constitution and by-laws, such as a redistribution of responsibilities among executive members.
One of the constitutional changes being brought forward at referendum focuses on the fact that the AUS has hired a full-time executive assistant, whose salary is paid by student fees, to make a distinction between administrative tasks and governance. This change was imposed during the Winter 2013 referendum and now the AUS is seeking to update the constitution to reflect these changes.
“Now that we have more time to focus on governance, it was a good time for us to clean up the constitution […] So we found this to be a good opportunity not just to look at that position but all of our positions, and how […] the descriptions [could] be written better, have clearer mandates, and actually reflect a lot of the work we do,” Fletcher explained.
The polling period for the referendum will take place from November 21 to 26.