On Oct. 11, the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) Legislative Council held its third meeting of the Fall semester, during which councillors spent most of the session debating removing two departmental executives for missing mandatory consent training. Council also approved a new speaker, Husayn Jamal, and passed motions to approve the AUS Financial Management Committee (FMC) members-at-large, hold a fall referendum period, and amend the AUS equity policy.
The most contentious topic of the evening was the motion to suspend Anthropology Students’ Association (ASA) President Sandrine Philie and McGill Environmental Students’ Society (MESS) Executive Council Co-President Peter Garber. Both Philie and Garber were absent from AUS consent training sessions, which occurred on Sept. 25, 28, and 29. The departmental executives failed to submit a valid reason for missing the mandatory trainings by Oct. 1 to AUS President Erik Partridge. As a consequence, Partridge and Vice-President (VP) Internal Rebecca Scarra put forth a motion to remove them from Council.
Despite Philie and Garber’s willingness to attend alternative training externally, Partridge explained that other courses are not equivalent to those that AUS department executives undergo.
“[Our] training is very much tailored to the AUS departmental executives,” Partridge said. “I know that [departmental executives who are] floor fellows were excused given the comprehensiveness of their consent training. Otherwise, there were some requests for excusal based on [AUS] departmental executives attending other consent trainings. For the most part, after reviewing those materials, [they were] deemed not sufficient to cover the training provided to the AUS departmental executives."
Philie cited former ASA co-president Pascale Gerdun‘s resignation to explain why she mistakenly submitted her reason for absence to Scarra instead of Partridge. Due to Gerdun’s absence, Philie claims that she was preoccupied with hiring new ASA executives.
“During the week of the mandatory consent training, I was reviewing all of the applications I received and trying to find the fairest way to give everyone a position they would be happy about,” Philie said. “A week [after the deadline], I learned that I did not email the right person [….] I never intended to skip this training and I do think it should be mandatory.”
Councillors questioned whether Garber considered consent education a priority. While Garber did not provide a valid reason for missing training on time, he acknowledged the significance of the mandatory sessions.
“First of all, I just wanted to recognize the importance of consent,” Garber said. “I didn’t attend [AUS consent training.] It was a slip of my mind but I would love to.”
Ultimately, with 29 votes in favour and 12 abstentions, Council carried a new motion to suspend Garber until he attends AUS makeup consent training sessions. Philie’s reason for absence was deemed valid and as a result, she will remain in her position, provided that she also attend a makeup training session.
Council unanimously passed a motion to approve Max Knifton, Mia Trana, Daniella Mutuc, and Shannon Timmins as members-at-large for the FMC, the AUS body responsible for reviewing departmental budgets and funding requests from campus groups.
Timmins will serve as co-chair of the FMC alongside AUS VP Finance Noah Lew.
“[Timmins] is one of our AUS assistants,” Lew said. “She’s excellent.”
Council voted to amend the AUS Equity Policy so that all Council members can receive training on equity and inclusivity from any resource pre-approved by the Equity Commissioners. Previously, AUS executives and Senators were not allowed to receive training from external groups such as the Social Equity and Diversity Office (SEDE). Partridge explained that the amendment would provide more flexibility for executives and Senators to receive thorough training in the future.
AUS Council will next meet on Oct. 25.