A settlement was reached on January 17 in the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Judicial Board (J-Board) case filed by Nadir Khan and Zain Ali Syed against SSMU’s Legislative Council and Speaker. Despite the petitioners’ original intention, the settlement was reached in mediation, and there will be no special General Assembly (GA) to discuss the controversial Palestine solidarity motion that was postponed indefinitely at the Fall GA, as the petitioners had originally called for.
The terms of the settlement require the J-Board to make recommendations concerning two issues: first, whether or not article 5.2.2 of bylaw I-5 allows Council to institute a special standing rule requiring a two-thirds majority in the place of a simple majority for a motion to postpone indefinitely; and second, whether article 5.2 of the same bylaw obliges SSMU to adopt simplified Robert’s Rules for GAs, and, if it does, how SSMU should go about doing this.
The recommendations to be outlined by the J-Board are not binding, and would need to be adopted by the Council in order to take effect. At the October 23 Council meeting, following the GA, several councillors expressed concern about the confusing nature of Robert’s Rules.
The petition called for a special GA to be held, deeming several of the proceedings of the Fall GA unconstitutional according to SSMU’s bylaws, and claiming that these mistakes were why the Palestine solidarity motion was never debated.
“We hope we were able to at the very least raise awareness on some of the fundamental flaws of our General Assemblies.”
Khan and Syed, who initially wanted to forgo mediation and have a hearing last semester, said that they had agreed to compromise due to the fast-approaching date of the Winter GA, to be held in March. “It became clear that the effectiveness of our requests would no longer be feasible as the date of the Winter GA drew closer,” the petitioners told The Daily in an email.
While the J-Board has not yet delivered its recommendations as per the settlement, Ayukawa insisted that SSMU did not break its bylaws.
“The SSMU has followed its bylaws throughout this, and [it may be that nothing will change] in the upcoming GA. Only the petitioners have said that SSMU did not follow the bylaws. Furthermore, whether or not bylaws were broken at the first GA is not mentioned in the mediation agreement,” said Ayukawa in an email to The Daily.
The petitioners cited the J-Board’s lack of quorum during the end of last semester, and the subsequent pushing of the hearing of their case to the Winter semester, as reasons for these delays. Khan and Syed also explained that the settlement was reached over the course of one mediation session, facilitated by J-Board Chief Justice Muna Tojiboeva.
Overall, Ayukawa was content with the mediation settlement. “I am happy that we were able to come to a common ground with the petitioners that everyone is content with,” she wrote.
Khan and Syed indicated that they will not take further action if the impending J-Board recommendations are not in their favour, and expressed hope that they had at least succeeded in shedding light on some of the problems that exist at SSMU.
“Fighting this for nearly three months now was an exhausting process, and we hope we were able to at the very least raise awareness on some of the fundamental flaws of our General Assemblies,” they wrote.