The Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) held its first legislative council meeting of the Fall 2020 semester on Sept. 8. As McGill has transitioned to online learning platforms, student organizations such as SSMU have similarly adapted to social distancing restrictions by holding their meetings via recorded Zoom calls. While the meeting lacked the usual energy of in-person SSMU assemblies, the council introduced new standing rules for future legislative council meetings and provided updates from the summer.
Speaker of the Council Lauren Hill outlined changes to these rules that, when passed, will officially supersede SSMU’s pre-existing parliamentary procedure. Seeking to make council proceedings more efficient, another motion proposed banning late additions to the agenda.
“Up to one motion submitted after the deadline shall be considered as a late motion,” Hill said. “This is new from last year, […] but if you were on council before, you understood the issue with late motions, so we’ve decided that we’re essentially going to ban the practice [altogether].”
SSMU further increased its commitment to decorum within SSMU proceedings by instituting penalties for late or absent council members.
“If [a member of the council is] unexcused twice, [they] are automatically suspended,” Hill said. “If [they] are late, four times excused, [they’re] automatically suspended. All committees and reports must be submitted by the Sunday prior to Legislative Council [….] If [a council member] submits a late report, [it will] be equivalent to half of one absence since failure to submit a report will be equivalent to one absence in total.”
Closing Tuesday’s meeting were executive reports from SSMU President Jemark Earle and Vice President of University Affairs Brooklyn Frizzle. Earle summarized SSMU’s progress over the summer and addressed issues with the absence of a French translation of the new SSMU constitution.
“This summer, there was a Judicial Board hearing on the validity of the 2020 Constitution that was approved last year [that] went to a referendum because it wasn’t submitted in French,” Earle said. “The results of the case are that the 2020 constitution that was voted on was declared invalid because it wasn’t approved in French. But the judgment won’t come into effect until Nov. 1, giving us enough time to run a special referendum which will be coming soon to approve both the English and French versions.”
Moment of the meeting:
Notable during the SSMU livestream was the upbeat game show-like music that played for a total of over 35 minutes during the three-hour meeting. Played as a lengthy musical interlude to open the proceedings and to punctuate each recess taken by councilors, the whimsical soundtrack truly set a fun tone for the student council meeting.
“There’s a tech drive […] to raise awareness and collect technology for folks who might not have it this year, given that at least the fall semester is going to be conducted remotely. So basically, we’re looking to collect old laptops, or iPads, whatever that people have lying around or are not using. We’re hoping to hire someone who’d be able to fix them up if they’re broken. And then we would be delivering [the electronics] to students or community members in need so that they can study appropriately given the [online] semester.” – Jemark Le Jean
The meetings can be accessed on the SSMU Livestream Youtube channel.