The McGill Daily editorial board has compiled our endorsements for this semester’s referendum questions.
The questions in this referendum are:
- Do you agree to the creation of a non-opt-outable French Accessibility Fee of $0.25 per semester per student, payable by SSMU Members starting in Fall 2022 and ending in Fall 2027 (inclusive), excluding the summer semesters, at which point it will be brought back to the Membership for renewal, with the understanding that a majority “no” vote would result in a difficulty for the Commission des Affaires Francophones to provide events and services to SSMU members?
- Do you agree to increase the non-opt-outable SSMU Society Fee by $1.20, payable each semester (excluding summer) by all members of the Students Society of McGill University, starting Fall 2022?
- Do you agree to establish the opt-outable SSMU Virtual Health Services fee of $44.85 per student to be charged in the Fall semester for full year access (September to August), starting in Fall 2022 and ending Winter 2027, payable by all SSMU Members to access Virtual Health Services?
- Given that all COVID-19 preventive measures would be taken, would you be in favor of creating an opt-outable fee-levy of $2.00 per semester (including summer) to support a student-run bus service to connect McGill campus to Toronto, New York, Ottawa, Boston, and other destinations on weekends and holidays? The fee-levy will be used to subsidize trips and fund general operations to ensure the long-term sustainability, affordability, and accessibility of the service. The fee is paid by SSMU Members starting in Fall 2022 and ending in Fall 2024 (inclusive), at which point it will be brought back to the Membership for renewal? A majority ‘no’ vote would result in the non-existence of the fund.
- Student Support Canada is proposing that all part time and full time undergraduate students pay an opt-outable Student Support Fee of $9.99 per semester for students to receive semesterly subscriptions for Calm, Udemy, and Grammarly, starting in Fall 2022 and ending in Winter 2023 (inclusive) for an initial one-year period to evaluate usage rates in hopes of running a second referendum next year for a long-term agreement. Do you agree?
- Do you agree to create the Black Affairs Fee at $1.50 per semester for full-time students and $0.75 per semester for part-time students (excluding summer), payable by all SSMU members starting Fall 2022 until Winter 2027 (inclusive), with an understanding that a majority ‘No’ vote would result in the inability for the Black Affairs Commissioner to support BIPOC students and pursue relevant initiatives?
- Do you agree to the SSMU’s adoption of the Palestine Solidarity Policy?
The McGill Daily editorial board endorses a YES vote to the creation of a French Accessibility Fee.
As the motion regarding this referendum question notes, translation services do not constitute sufficient support for francophone students at McGill; SSMU ought to advocate for the needs and rights of French-speaking students. The creation of this $0.50 fee would enable the Francophone Affairs Committee to do so, thereby enabling them to better fulfill their mandate.
The Daily editorial board endorses a YES vote to the question on the increase of the 2022 SSMU Membership Fee.
SSMU Councillors and Senators dedicate an enormous amount of time to fulfill their duties at SSMU, and they deserve to be paid for their labour. Paying student representatives would also make elected positions at SSMU more accessible, giving students who cannot afford to perform hours of unpaid labour per week the opportunity to participate in student governance.
Additionally, a great deal of labour and research has gone into the creation of this motion, as the 2020-2021 VP University Affairs Brooklyn Frizzle worked on this initiative. The thorough consultations and other research which went into creating the motion signify that it is well-supported by current representatives. Thus, the Daily supports the implementation of a $1.20 increase to the SSMU Basic Society Fee.
The Daily endorses a YES vote to the question of the implementation of the dialogue telemedicine service for SSMU members.
The motion proposes the establishment of an opt-outable SSMU virtual health services fee of $44.85 for full year access. While the fee is high, it is opt-outable, so students who do not wish to use the service do not have to pay. There exist many barriers to access to health services within the university and the city of Montreal, whereas Virtual Health Services can provide rapid, convenient, and reliable online access to medical doctors and nurses. Additionally, this proposed telehealth service would provide all SSMU members with access to the service at no additional cost beyond the proposed referendum, while costs to see doctors in Montreal can be expensive on a per-visit basis. Overall, this fee would provide relatively accessible healthcare where McGill has failed to do so.
Note: Two of the editors present at the Daily’s endorsements meeting have previously worked with Alexis Zhou, a former Daily editor who has been highly involved with the MUSTBUS Initiative. These editors – Nicole Huang (Managing Editor) and Abigail Popple (Coordinating News Editor) – recused themselves from the endorsement process for the MUSTBUS Fee.
The Daily endorses a YES vote to the MUSTBUS Fee.
The MUSTBUS Fee is a $2.00 opt-outable fee to support the running of affordable and accessible bus trips to major cities like Boston, Toronto, Ottawa and New York from McGill campus. MUSTBUS initially passed in the Fall 2020 SSMU Referendum, and the organisation wants to support this voter-approved mandate with a fee-levy to guarantee the sustainability of the service.
The rising cost of transport options makes this a service that would likely be well-used by students. The fee is opt-outable, meaning that students who do not wish to use the service can opt out of paying the $2.00 levy. The proposal does highlight that MUSTBUS will have a mandate to provide ‘universally affordable and accessible transportation options for McGill students,’ but does not elaborate on the accessibility of the service beyond a low price point – it would be beneficial for MUSTBUS to elaborate on their accessibility and sustainability plans in more detail.
The Daily editorial board endorses a NO vote to the creation of a student support fee.
Student Support Canada, a startup which provides students with access to academic support services, is seeking to create a $9.99/semester opt-outable fee levy that would provide students with access to Calm, Grammarly, and Udemy. While the fee is opt-outable, the legitimacy of Student Support Canada is questionable. There are allegations of the problematic structure of the company and that it seems to be founded by the same individual who founded FundQi, a similar service. In 2020 it was revealed FundQi was less than transparent with the Carleton University Students’ Association, as reported in The Eyeopener. During the February 17 Legislative Council meeting, Student Support Canada’s representative also said that the overhead costs associated with providing this service would be subject to change over the next few years – this does not inspire confidence regarding the company’s financial transparency.
Additionally, it would be more appropriate to allocate funding towards student services rather than a corporation. While VP Student Life Karla Heisele Cubilla pointed out that there are limits to student services during the aforementioned Legislative Council meeting, this just goes to show that our services deserve more support from SSMU; rather than spending money on a for-profit corporation, SSMU should put its energy and funding towards pre-existing services and advocating for the university to meet students’ mental health needs. Given the problematic implications of Student Support Canada, the Daily does not support this fee levy.
The Daily editorial board endorses a YES vote to the creation of a Black Affairs Fee Levy.
The opt-outable fee of $1.50/semester for full-time students and $0.75/semester for part-time students would fund the creation of new positions in the External Affairs department: the Black Affairs Commissioner, a BIPOC Student Rights Researchers, and other positions as needed. Notably, the fee would also go towards funding the Black Affairs Annual Award, the creation of a Black Affairs community newsletter, funding the Black Affairs discretionary budget, alongside several other important initiatives. All in all, this fee levy enables the Black Affairs Commissioner to further support racialized students and relevant initiatives.
The polling period for the Winter 2022 referendum will take place from March 14 at 9:00 a.m. to March 18 at 6:00 p.m. Please visit ssmu.simplyvoting.com to cast your ballot.