News  AUS Council discusses suitability of candidate endorsements

Amendments to Equity Policy to increase Equity presence

Convening last Wednesday, the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) Council adopted five motions and tabled another until its next meeting.

Amendment to the Equity Policy

The first motion concerned the AUS Equity Committee. The motion aimed to amend the AUS Equity Policy so that when Equity Officers attend AUS-affiliated events, including student orientation activities, it would not be at the expense of the Officers.

“Because it is the Equity Committee’s first year in existence, there [are] a lot of things that just needed to be sorted out in the bylaws. A lot of things didn’t really make sense in terms of implementation. So the goal of this was to be able to institute the things that the Equity Committee is supposed to be doing,” said AUS Equity Commissioner Hannah Sinclair in an interview with The Daily.

“It’s not fair to make someone pay $100 for Frosh, if they are going there in an official capacity,” Sinclair added.

AUS Equity Commissioner Josh Falek told The Daily that the lack of institutional support for equity during orientation week activities proved to be problematic, citing the fact that Equity Officers could not find out whether they could go to Frosh until two days before as evidence.

“We want to make sure that when the future administrations come through, Equity Officers can still go to all these events,” Falek said.

The motion was passed with four abstentions.

Standing committee endorsements during elections

AUS McGill Environment Council (AUSec) representative Maggie Cascadden brought forth an issue concerning endorsement of candidates by standing committees.

“AUSec just wanted to have this discussion to discuss whether or not it’s possible for different departments […] to endorse candidates in any of the upcoming elections,” Cascadden explained to the Council.

According to AUS electoral bylaws, departmental associations may be allowed to endorse candidates through their mailing lists; however, at the time of the discussion, there was no specific bylaw regarding standing committees like AUSec.

AUS VP External Kareem Ibrahim expressed concern over the idea. “As a faculty association, I don’t think it’s the best idea to address candidates, especially given that there will be a lot of bias involved in it,” Ibrahim explained.

“We should try to avoid becoming so politicized in such a small network that is McGill campus,” added AUS VP Events Paul Laughlin.

“I think there is a certain merit to endorsements considering that our communities are supposed to represent student interests, and there might be situations in which certain candidates may be more into these interests,” AUS VP Internal Enbal Singer said to the Council.

Cascadden later explained to the Council that the reason she brought up the issue was because AUSec wanted to endorse candidates based on their environmental platforms.

After the discussion, Cascadden and Singer drafted a motion to amend the AUS electoral bylaws to state that standing committees are able to publicly endorse candidates in AUS elections.

In an email to The Daily, AUS President Justin Fletcher said, “I think it’s a good idea that some of our committees have a guaranteed ability in our bylaws to endorse candidates on matters pertinent to their portfolio’s mandate.”

“However, as with any endorsements, they must exercise caution and ensure that the endorsement is decided on in a fair manner, as endorsements can send a strong message to candidates and to the AUS membership,” added Fletcher.

The motion was adopted with four votes against and two abstentions.

The other motions passed included the adoption of the revised constitution of the McGill Psychology Students’ Association, an amendment to the Arts Undergraduate Improvement Fund Bylaws, and the adoption of the budget of the Arts Computer Lab Fund Committee.

The motion regarding the adoption of an ethical purchasing policy was tabled due to the absence of AUS VP Finance Samuel Higgs, and will be discussed at the next Council meeting on February 19