The Daily Publication Society (DPS), the student-run publisher of the McGill Daily and Le Délit, will not run its existence referendum until the Winter semester, at which time it will do so independently of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU).
McGill requires student associations to hold existence referenda every five years to renew their Memorandum of Agreement (MoA)—a contract with the university that covers issues such as an association’s student fees. These referenda are usually run through Elections SSMU, which holds one referendum period each semester.
According to SSMU Chief Electoral Officer Hubie Yu, the DPS can run its referendum separately from SSMU because of its structure.
“The DPS is structurally different from SSMU clubs [and] services, as they’re a legally separate entity, and have their own MoA with McGill,” Yu said. “Clubs and services exist legally as part of the SSMU and are included in the SSMU MoA, so they won’t really be running their own questions.”
Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Morton Mendelson said his office will work with the DPS before they run the referendum.
“We only learned late last week about the [DPS] running a referendum question independently from SSMU, and we are now looking into that issue,” he said.
DPS Chair Sheehan Moore said that the DPS has run two independent referendum questions in the past—an existence referendum in 2008, and a fee increase referendum in 2010.
“SSMU’s by-laws aren’t really designed for newspapers to run existence referenda through them, since editors aren’t allowed to serve on referenda committees under SSMU’s rules,” Moore said. “As an independent society we have membership that exceeds SSMU—for instance, we have some grad students.”
For the 2008 independent referendum, the DPS drafted its own by-laws for referenda, which they based on the SSMU by-laws. It also requires someone to act as an independent agent for their referendum. This year, the DPS has chosen Faraz Alidina, the elections coordinator of Elections SSMU.
Moore said the DPS made the decision to hold the referendum next semester based on time considerations.
“We wanted to make sure we had enough time to organize with our CEO, and familiarize ourselves with the process and our by-laws,” he wrote. “At the same time, we wanted to avoid conflicts with SSMU’s referendum schedule, students’ midterms, exams, etc.”
However, holding the referendum in the Winter semester does pose some risks for the DPS. If complications arise regarding a question, a failure to meet quorum, or a majority vote against the question, there may not be time to run a second question. Moore did not express concern regarding these possibilities.
“We’re in contact with the administration to ensure recognition of our result, and we’re confident that students will continue to support the existence of Le Délit and The Daily,” he said. “Ultimately, all that matters is that McGill recognizes the result, and that’s what we’re aiming for.”
—Additional reporting by Jimmy Lou.