The 2019 Winter SSMU General Assembly (GA) took place Monday, February 25 in the Frank Dawson Adams auditorium. Just over 20 people were present, much fewer than the 350 required for quorum. As a result, the GA became a “Consultative Forum,” meaning that any motion passed would seek official approval from Legislative Council.
Following an approval of the Fall GA meeting minutes, a last minute motion was added to the agenda. The motion called on SSMU to endorse the March 15 Student Walkout for Climate Justice. It pointed to SSMU’s history of supporting climate and social justice movements to indicate that the Society should endorse the walkout. A constituent, Noah Fisher, also noted that passing this motion would show further support for Divest McGill. The motion required SSMU to release a statement endorsing the walkout and to send a delegation to the march as well. It passed unanimously at the GA and was approved at the February 28 Legislative Council.
After discussing new business, the executives gave their reports. President Mansdoerfer began with the Board of Directors’ (BoD) report, providing updates on minor business and speaking about potential consultations to better the structure of the BoD. In his report, as President, Mansdoerfer explained some of the projects he has been working on, such as SSMU’s purchase of 3501 Peel, which will be turned into a hub of subsidized student care.
In the Internal report, VP Matthew McLaughlin explained how he has “overhauled” the First Year Council (FYC) constitution, increasing its size. The VP Internal has also aided the FYC in event planning, setting up scholarships, and relaunching their listserv. In efforts to increase student engagement, McLaughlin pioneered the “day in the life of a SSMU executive” program and spoke of the outreach efforts being done within Francophone Affairs.
VP Finance Jun Wang spoke of SSMU’s recent switch in banks in his report. In addition, he mentioned changes to the funding process. SSMU has switched funding forms from SUMAC, an expensive and complicated system, to WordPress Forms, which are much more user-friendly. Handbooks for funding and accounting are in the works or already completed.
In the University Affairs report, VP Jacob Shapiro recounted his research and advocacy work over the past few months. This portfolio included efforts to divest from fossil fuels, as well as advocacy for a Fall reading week, students’ academic rights, and gender neutral language. VP Shapiro also gave an update on his proposed changes to the S/U option, saying that there has been a “warm” reception from the Deputy Provost Student Life and Learning. Going forward on the matter, VP Shapiro mentioned potentially writing a letter and talking to admissions officers and recruiters about the S/U option.
The last question of the night dealt with the GA’s attendance, as Arts and Science Senator Bryan Buraga pointed out that this was the third consecutive GA which failed to meet quorum. Senator Buraga asked President Mansdoerfer what could have been done to improve attendance. In response, the President suggested that in the future, SSMU hire a public relations department to increase engagement in student politics.
The GA was adjourned after only 80 minutes.