The Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) Legislative Council met on Feb. 21 to discuss amendments to its financial by-laws, the introduction of debit and credit card payment at SNAX, and institutional changes to the position of Equity Committee chair.
AUS President Erik Partridge presented a motion to amend the Society’s financial by-laws to include the creation of a publicly available budget to be updated throughout the year, deadlines for AUS departments to establish their annual budgets, and an increase in the majority required to pass a deficit budget. The motion also recommended expanding the clause providing minimum wage pay to Executive Committee members in the Work Study Program, an initiative that finds employment at Mcgill for students with financial needs.
“[Clause 10.1] does not explicitly allow [compensation for non-Work Study students],” Partridge said. “It does allow it at Council’s discretion, or if another McGill entity wishes to fund [the compensation].”
Council voted to table the motion until its next meeting on March 14 to allow councillors more time to review the changes.
SNAX, a student-run cafe located on the first floor of the Leacock Building, sells sandwiches, treats, and coffee at affordable prices, many of which are organic, fair trade, or vegan. The store currently only accepts cash payments, but to make it more widely accessible, Vice-President (VP) External Alice Yue, VP Internal Rebecca Scarra, and VP Academic Madeline Wilson introduced a motion to implement credit and debit payments.
“[Accepting only cash payments] is really inaccessible for a large amount of students,” Yue said. “In [the most recent AUS survey], we received overwhelming feedback to have another payment method, which is why we’re bringing this motion today.”
To cover the costs of implementing a debit and credit card system, AUS is currently looking into setting a minimum payment amount for card use, or a discount for those who pay with cash.
VP Communications Maria Thomas spoke in favour of the motion, predicting that different payment methods will help boost the appeal of SNAX.
“I think that [allowing credit and debit payments] is putting AUS a little more into the future,” Thomas said. “If it’s financially feasible, I think this will really make [SNAX] a little more accessible to the modern age.”
The motion passed unanimously, and the AUS hopes to implement the new card payment system at SNAX at some in the near future.
VP External Alice Yue proposed a motion to abolish the International Student Affairs Commission (ISAC) and transfer its responsibilities to the Arts Community Engagement Committee (ACE), which would gain two additional International Student representatives to compensate.
ACE is responsible for doing outreach to the local community and leading philanthropic ventures and activities in Montreal. ISAC, which was established two years ago to provide services and host events for international students, has historically suffered from poor attendance at its events. Yue hopes that combining ISAC’s mandate with ACE, a committee that has already proven to be successful, will ensure that the committee represents the interests of international students.
Council will vote on the motion in a referendum in the spring.
Partridge and SSMU Arts Representative Jennifer Chan moved a motion to add a question to the spring referendum on whether an Arts Representative should chair the Equity Committee. While historically the AUS President has held this position ex-officio, Chan chaired the committee this year as part of a pilot project, and both Patridge and Chan agree that giving the role to an Arts representative would be more fair.
“[The motion] makes Equity a little bit more independent, helps increase Equity’s role in terms of being able to hold the executives accountable, and also with three arts representatives, it increases the chances that you’ll have someone who’s more well-versed in equity compared to the AUS president, which can vary substantially from year-to-year,” Partridge said.
AUS Legislative Council will next meet on March 14 in Leacock 232.