On Nov. 8, the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) Legislative Council held its fifth meeting of the Fall semester. Councillors passed motions to support the Daily Publications Society (DPS) existence referendum, to create the Quebec Studies Students Association (QSSA), and to appoint 18 councillors, executives, and other students to positions on committees and individual roles in AUS.
The DPS, which publishes both The McGill Daily and Le Délit, is currently campaigning for a “Yes” vote to its existence referendum. Every five years, all clubs that collect a non-opt-outable fee from students must go through this type of vote to ensure that they can continue doing so for another five-year period. At last week’s council, the AUS voted to support the DPS’ campaign for its own existence, just six days after the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Legislative Council voted against doing so at its Nov. 2 Legislative Council meeting.
The motion was proposed by Department of English Student Association (DESA) Vice-President (VP) External Thomas MacDonald and Arts Representative Jennifer Chan. Councillors discussed the roles of The McGill Daily and Le Délit on campus and the future of both newspapers if the referendum fails.
“What is highly unusual is, for the first time, SSMU Legislative Council voted not to endorse a yes vote [for the DPS’s] existence referendum,” MacDonald said. “DPS is an extremely valuable resource […] for a university with no journalism program.”
According to Arts Senator Isabella Anderson, it is important to have a French newspaper like Le Délit at McGill University out of respect for Quebec as a Francophone province.
“We go to school in Quebec, yet we only have one Francophone newspaper,” Anderson said. “It’s important to find a newspaper that caters to the province where we go to school. It doesn’t matter that our institution is English.”
Political Science Students Association (PSSA) VP External Liam Kirkpatrick also reminded Council of the gravity of this vote, asserting that the result of the existence referendum will determine The McGill Daily and Le Délit’s ability to continue operating.
“I think that it’s very clear that if the DPS is not renewed, it will end The Daily and Le Délit,” Kirkpatrick said. “[The McGill Daily and Le Délit] will not have the funds to continue to operate, to continue to publish, [and] to continue to pay rent.”
AUS VP Internal Rebecca Scarra moved a motion to create a student association for the Quebec Studies (QCST) program, which began in 2015 and offers a major and minor. This motion came forth at a tenuous time for QCST, as it currently risks termination by the Faculty of Arts due to low interest and enrollment in the program, according to AUS VP Academic Madeline Wilson.
“The association being established is trying to prevent [QCST] from being cut, but realistically the only thing that will prevent the termination is getting enrollment numbers up,” Wilson said. “Does the QSSA have concrete plans on how they would increase enrollment?”
In response, Scarra argued that the creation of the association would serve to publicize QCST and improve current enrollment rates.
“[Quebec Studies program students] hoping by having this association, it will increase visibility in the AUS and get more people to enroll.” Scarra said. “They would also like to do collaborative events with other departments to raise awareness of the program.”
AUS President Erik Partridge and AUS VP Communications Maria Thomas motioned for the AUS Legislative Council to ratify appointments of executives, councillors, and other students to various AUS positions, all of which passed unanimously. This is an annual process, and the 18 roles with appointments are split across five AUS departments.
“This motion is basically to appoint people to specific positions, as well as to approve the various committees that require membership approval,” Partridge said. “[These positions and committees are] Arts Student Employment Fund committee, Fine Arts Commissioners, Arts Computer Lab Fund Committee, and Financial Management Committee.”
AUS will next meet on Nov 22 at 6 p.m. in Leacock 232.