The Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) Legislative Council met for its first meeting of the academic year on September 3. During the meeting, executive members and Arts Senators updated Council on their work over the summer break. Council also approved several AUS staff hirings, voted in Li Xue as the new VP Finance, and reacted to a rejection of a request to fly the Hiawatha Belt Flag on National Aboriginal Day from the Secretariat, McGill’s governance office.
Hiawatha Belt Flag proposal rejected
In their report to Council, Arts Senators Jacob Greenspon and Kareem Ibrahim gave a follow-up on two motions that the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Legislative Council approved at its April 10 meeting. The motions mandated SSMU to endorse the moving of the Hochelaga Rock, which commemorates the Iroquois settlement that used to exist at McGill’s current grounds, to a more prominent location, and the flying of the Hiawatha Belt Flag, a symbol of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, on National Aboriginal Day. SSMU’s support was to be expressed to members of the administration.
According to Greenspon’s and Ibrahim’s report, the Secretariat rejected McGill’s Work Group on Aboriginal Affairs’ proposal to fly the Hiawatha Belt Flag on National Aboriginal Day. It justified its rejection by stating that, “People feel that we should more fully consider this request in the context of other community members who may have a similar interest in celebrating a particular group or tradition.”
AUS VP Social Kyle Rouhani addressed the Secretariat’s decision before Council. “The University has no problem changing the flag for when a representative of the crown comes, but was really, really reluctant to change the flag for the nation whose lands we are on.”
In an email to The Daily, AUS President Lucy Ava Liu suggested that the Secretariat’s decision was not the end of the AUS’ involvement with the issue. “I think it is an issue that will definitely engage a number of Arts students, especially following last year’s recently approved Indigenous Studies minor. I think this topic may be brought up again at AUS Council in the future, potentially in the form of a motion by an AUS councillor.”
Resigned VP Finance replaced
Council’s most time-sensitive issue on the agenda was replacing AUS VP Finance Kateryn Kim, who resigned from the position for personal and family reasons. On August 22, a memo was sent out to members of AUS eligible to run for the executive that instructed them to prepare a letter of intent and a presentation for the September 3 Council meeting, should they be interested in running for the vacant position.
According to its constitution, AUS Council is required to appoint a replacement for the VP Finance position from amongst its members or from an official committee at its Legislative Council meeting. If deemed necessary by Council, the new VP Finance would temporarily occupy their position until a by-election is held.
The two candidates who ran for the position were Dan Rozenblum, VP Communications of the Society of Undergraduate Mathematics Students (SUMS), and Xue, an Economics and Computer Science double major, who was on the AUS Financial Management Council last year.
Xue won in a secret ballot vote at the meeting over Rozenblum 25-15, with two abstentions.
However, Council deemed it unnecessary to hold a by-election. As such, Xue was appointed as VP Finance, rather than as interim VP Finance, and no further elections will be held.
Kim expressed her support for a swift appointment rather than appointing an interim VP Finance until a by-election would be held.
Kim stated that it took about a month to get used to the tasks of the job – an interim would only be fully operational at the time the by-election took place, and the process of retraining would have to begin.
Kim told The Daily that she was feeling confident in Xue’s appointment. “This job is very operational, so you learn as you go along, and once you get the hang of the operation, it’s just time management skills,” Kim stated.