The Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Winter 2016 General Assembly (GA) will take place on February 22 at 3 p.m.. Unlike the Fall 2015 GA, which saw no motions presented, this semester’s GA features a range of substantive motions. We welcome in particular the proposed increase in Indigenous content at McGill, as well as the continuation of the debate on Palestine solidarity.
Motion Regarding the Procurement of Products Containing Conflict Minerals by SSMU – YES
Armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (the Congo) began in the early 1990s, and has heightened since the Rwandan genocide. The conflict has killed and displaced millions of people, and has involved extreme human rights violations, including sexual violence and the recruitment of children for armed warfare. The Congo is also a country rich in natural resources, such as charcoal and gold, and the illegal exploitation of these resources funds armed groups that instigate violence. Consistent with SSMU’s goals for sustainable and ethical practices, this motion asks SSMU and its Financial Ethics Research Committee to take the necessary steps to review its purchasing policy in an effort to stop the purchase of electronics made from conflict minerals, as well as to encourage electronics suppliers to make efforts to source conflict-free minerals in their products. The Daily endorses a “yes” vote on this motion.
Motion Regarding Support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement – YES
In 2005, over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations initiated the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, calling on people and organizations around the world “to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era.” SSMU’s constitution states its commitment to leadership in matters of social justice and human rights; it is thus imperative for SSMU to support BDS campaigns on campus until Israel complies with international law by ending its illegal occupation of Palestinian territories, dismantling the West Bank wall, recognizing equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and respecting the right of return for Palestinian refugees. Further, McGill holds investments in at least three companies that profit from the illegal occupation of Palestine, thereby making us, as students whose tuition funds these investments, complicit in the occupation. We welcome a mandate for SSMU to lobby the Board of Governors and recommend full divestment from such companies. The Daily encourages students to say no to continued complicity in Israel’s colonial project by voting “yes” on this motion.
Web editor Marc Cataford and Copy editor Chantelle Schultz were not present for, or involved in, the discussion and editing of this endorsement, as they are involved with the McGill BDS Action Network. News editor Ellen Cools, Design editor Rahma Wiryomartono, and Sci+Tech editor Eric Sun abstained from this endorsement.
Motion for an Increase in Indigenous Content at McGill University – YES
In the context of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which called for greater Indigenous content in educational materials, other Canadian universities such as the University of Winnipeg and the University of Regina have taken up the call and implemented Indigenous components in their programs, while McGill is lagging severely behind. If passed, this motion would explicitly mandate the SSMU VP University Affairs, in collaboration with the SSMU Indigenous Affairs Coordinator, to campaign for increased Indigenous content and representation at the university. This would include lobbying for increased hiring of Indigenous professors, and increased courses and course requirements, in consultation with Indigenous community members and elders involved in the design, planning, and implementation of Indigenous content and courses at McGill. The Daily strongly supports on-campus efforts toward decolonization, and as such, endorses a “yes” vote on this motion.
—The McGill Daily editorial board
Commentary editor Igor Sadikov was not involved in the discussion of these endorsements, due to the suspension of his editorial duties for the duration of the Arts Undergraduate Society campaign period.