The Fall 2014 SSMU General Assembly (GA) brings a refreshing change from last year’s lacklustre GAs. Although the motions presented are few in number, they urge SSMU to take a strong stance on climate change, military research, and the occupation of Palestinian territories – political issues around which student groups have been organizing much more in recent months. The fact that the majority of the motions were moved by petition is also indicative of an increase in student engagement. As such, The Daily welcomes an overdue re-politicization of SSMU and endorses each of the motions.
Motion Regarding Action on Climate Change – YES
This motion seeks student approval for SSMU to join Étudiant(e)s Contre les Oléoducs, a new student coalition opposed to pipeline projects and fuel extraction in Quebec, and would also require the VP External to present a policy on climate change action in Winter 2015. It would add SSMU’s voice to that of 70,000 students across Quebec, strengthening SSMU’s ties to other Quebec universities and expanding upon work done internally by groups like Divest McGill. As part of a younger generation, students hold a particular stake in combatting climate change, and it is crucial that they show support to those most affected by climate change and resource extraction – in Canada, Indigenous communities – through an action-based policy. The Daily thus endorses a “yes” vote on this motion.
Motion Regarding Support of a Campus Free from Harmful Military Technology Development – YES
If passed, this motion would mandate SSMU to support campaigns opposing harmful military research at McGill through the office of the VP External, strengthening SSMU’s already established stance on the issue. The Daily strongly opposes the development of harmful military technology at McGill, the targets of which are largely people of colour in exploited countries. Academic freedom, like all freedoms, is not absolute, and cannot justify research when the express purpose is to inflict violence. Moreover, McGill has historically shown a severe lack of transparency regarding this research. As the University is set to review its research regulations this year, a majority “yes” vote on this motion would add weight to the students’ voice in the review, complementing the work done by Demilitarize McGill in terms of direct action and popular education.
Motion Calling on SSMU to Stand in Solidarity with the People of the Occupied Palestinian Territories – YES
The Daily endorses this motion, which calls on SSMU to condemn the violence committed against Palestinian civilians by the state of Israel, as well its ongoing blockade of Gaza and settlement expansion in violation of international law. In a conflict where the disparity between the two sides in terms of infrastructure, resources, military power, and number of civilian deaths is immense, SSMU must uphold its commitment to social justice by breaking with McGill and Canada’s complicity in the violence. In doing so, SSMU would follow the lead of student unions across Canada who have not only opposed the occupation, but have also endorsed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign. Taking a stance against Israel’s violations would also challenge the prevailing narrative of support for Israel’s actions, making campus a safer space for people affected by the Israeli state’s violence.
—The McGill Daily Editorial Board