Last Thursday, the student body passed all six resolutions proposed at a sparsely attended Fall General Assembly.
The resolutions regarding the Students’ Society liquor licence, gender parity, and liability were passed with few or no amendments. The resolutions regarding the volume in Gert’s, the Arts Undergraduate Society fundraiser, and the student-run printing service also passed, but with major amendments.
After a heated debate on the resolution regarding the volume in Gert’s, an amendment raised the proposed volume limit from 60 decibels to 140 decibels. This amended resolution was eventually discarded, and the final resolution stated “that Gert’s Bar Managers abide by the requests of the majority of patrons.”
Allan Cyril, Engineering Undergraduate Society VP Internal and the mover of the resolution, said he was neutral about the outcome of this resolution but was glad that the bartenders are now mandated to listen to the students.
“I was kind of upset that the Gert’s bartending staff were the ones who didn’t really recognize that there was a problem, even though a lot of students have said there is a problem,” Cyril said.
Gert’s night manager Stephanie Gossage argued that the motion probably won’t seriously affect the way Gert’s operates.
“In the end, what came of it was a nondescript clause that doesn’t really mean anything at all,” she said. “It seemed like a big waste of time. I don’t think we’re actually going to see anything come of this, to be honest.”
The resolution regarding liability was passed after Eli Freedman, the motion’s mover and a Management representative to council, gave an impassioned speech calling for students to show the administration that they should be allowed to use the “McGill” name in the titles of clubs and services. The motion resolved SSMU refer to itself as the “Students’ Society of The Educational Institute Roughly Bounded by Peel, Penfield, University, Sherbrooke, and Mac Campus,” or by the acronym “SSTEIRBBPPUSAMC.”
“This is a huge joke, it’s ridiculous, it’s absurd. But it’s a joke with a very serious punch line,” Freedman said at the GA. “That serious punch line is the administration’s liability concerns.”
The motion, which expires at the end of the semester, will not force SSMU to make changes that would incur any costs, such as redesigning the logo.
The motion mandating SSMU to hold a bake sale to raise money for the AUS, which has recently suffered large financial losses, also passed, but was amended so that the money raised be donated to a not-for-profit organization of the AUS’ choosing instead of the AUS.
The gender parity motion, which proposed to do away with the alternating male, non-male speaking order at GAs and council, was passed near the end of the night with little debate or discussion. Some expressed concern that a question with so many implications didn’t receive more student consideration.
“I was surprised that the discussion on gender parity was not more thoughtful,” said SSMU President Zach Newburgh. “This is a very important issue.”
Arts Senator Amara Possian agreed.
“What I was watching in there was a bunch of white males drowning out a bunch of other people’s voices and abolishing gender parity with absolutely no debate on an issue that has implications for equity, implications for people feeling safe on this campus,” she said. “It’s not so much the fact that it passed that bothered me, it’s the way that it happened.”
But William Farrell, the resolution’s mover, said that if students at the GA had had serious objections to the motion, they would not have passed it so quickly.
“I guess maybe that just goes to show how many people realize … that [gender parity]’s pretty silly in perspective,” he said.
The resolution regarding Gert’s renovations, which would have included a “stripper pole” in the upcoming Gert’s renovations and made every Thursday night “Amateur Night” at the bar, was ruled out of order earlier in the week. The motion, Speaker of Council Raymond Xing said, violated article six of SSMU’s constitution, which mandate that SSMU protect “human dignity and bodily sovereignty.”
SSMU VP Finance and Operations Nick Drew added that there were other concerns with adopting such a motion.
“[A stripper pole] is simply a dangerous thing to have in the bar. The last thing we want is to have a drunk student try their hand at pole dancing and then injuring themselves,” he said. “I’ve seen enough YouTube videos of sober people falling flat on their face.”
Another major concern was the fact that the assembly had a difficult time maintaining the 100-student quorum. This led some students to question what had been done to promote the event and whether the GA was a valuable legislative process.
Students, Newburgh said, attend the GA when they’re interested in the motions on the agenda.
“It has been shown in the last number of years that [the GA] has taken a lot of time from the executives to plan and execute, and perhaps instead of using [that] time and the effort and the resources that SSMU has to put toward a legislative body that only every off-time gets quorum,” he said.
Others, however, were more blunt.
“[The GA is] a joke, right?” Cyril said. “I think it should be abolished.”