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(Lauren Benson-Armer / McGill Tribune)

Breaking down the SSMU GA motions

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Motion Regarding the Procurement of Products Containing Conflict Minerals

This motion concerning divestment from sourcing of conflict-free minerals from Congo was moved by Ceci Steyn, U2 Arts.

“I moved this motion because while many other divestment movements are well known, most people aren't aware that the minerals in their electronics profit violent rebel groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” Steyn said. “This motion aims to have SSMU demonstrate that there's a clear demand for companies to invest in responsible mining in Eastern Congo.”

The motion calls the SSMU to join the Conflict-Free Campus Initiative and for the SSMU Financial Ethics Research Committee (FERC) to update its purchasing guidelines to take conflict caused by mineral sourcing into account.

“It’s important that this motion passes in order to send the message that consumers, particularly students, care about the ethics behind products,” Steyn said. “If SSMU passes this motion, it will become part of the Conflict-Free Campus Initiative, a movement that encourages universities to demonstrate their support for companies that minimize the use of conflict minerals.”

Motion for an Increase in Indigenous Content at McGill University

The indigenous content motion calls for the vice-president (VP) University Affairs to lobby McGill regarding indigenous class offerings and the hiring of indigenous professors. The motion was moved by NDP McGill with the support of various SSMU representatives, including VP University Affairs Chloe Rourke.

“McGill is located on traditional Kanien’kehá:ka territory. It is an institution whose graduates go on take up important positions in Canadian society,” NDP McGill said in a statement to the Tribune. “We feel it has an obligation to offer courses, languages, and programs that reflect indigenous perspectives and priorities.”

VP University Affairs Chloe Rourke stated that SSMU has taken steps in the past to advocate for indigenous studies and more equitable hiring and aims to continue this work.

“The spirit of the GA motion aligns well with SSMU's ongoing advocacy towards the Indigenization of the institution,” Rourke said. “Students played a large role in the establishment of the Indigenous Affairs minor. We have also led considerable advocacy on the issue of Employment Equity within McGill, of which the concerning lack of Indigenous professors is certainly a big part of. I believe this motion is also very timely considering the release of the Truth & Reconciliation Report last year which specifically calls for action within the educational system.”

Motion Regarding Support for the BDS Movement

This motion calls for the SSMU to support BDS campaigns and lobby the McGill Board of Governors in support of BDS campaigns.

Michael McCauley, U1 Arts, is an organizing member with the McGill Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) Action Network.  He stated that the motion aims to support campus campaigns associated with the BDS movement, as opposed to direct organization of boycotting or divesting from Israeli goods or investments.

“[M]any students seem to believe that this motion would directly cause SSMU, or the university, to fully implement boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Israeli products and institutions,” McCauley said. “This is not true.  The motion would only provide SSMU's support to BDS campaigns at McGill, in the same way that it supports Divest McGill, McGill against Austerity, and Demilitarize McGill.”

McCauley stated that the incentive to implement this motion stems from a call made by the Palestinian civil society in 2005.

“The motion is being brought forward as a response to the call by 171 Palestinian civil society organizations in 2005 for people around the world to implement boycotts, divestment and sanctions initiatives against Israel until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights,” McCauley said.

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