The results of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Fall 2016 Referendum and General Assembly (GA) online ratification were released on Nov. 18. All referendum questions passed and nominations were ratified online. Of the approximately 22,600 students eligible to vote, turnout was 18.1 per cent, exceeding the quorum of 15 per cent. Quorum for GA Online Ratification is slightly lower at 10 per cent and it was reached with a 12.6 per cent turnout rate.
Creation of a Musicians’ Collective Fee: “Yes”
This motion called for the creation of a $0.10 opt-outable fee that will fund the Musicians’ Collective (MC). Previously funded solely from the SSMU budget, MC provides student-musicians at McGill with affordable services such as educational workshops, practice room booking, performance opportunities, and instrument and equipment rental. This motion passed with a 72 per cent “yes” vote.
MC President Saul Zetler wrote in an email to The McGill Tribune that the MC executive team is excited about the creation of the fee and that the money will be put towards maintaining the Jam Room that is available for students to book online.
“We look forward to putting the money to good use improving the condition of the jam space,” Zetler wrote. “Much of the equipment in the jam space needs repairing or replacing, and the money collected from this fee will be instrumental in ensuring that the quality of the jam space is upheld.”
Midnight Kitchen Fee Renewal: “Yes”
This motion proposed a $0.10 increase to the current opt-outable Midnight Kitchen student fee. Approval of this motion increases the fee to $3.45 and money will be used to fund the non-profit, volunteer-run collective that provides free vegan lunch and breakfast meals on campus. The motion passed with a 78.6 per cent “yes” vote.
Midnight Kitchen Discretionary Projects: “Yes”
The approval of this motion allows Midnight Kitchen to allocate a portion of their student fee revenue to aspects of their mandate outside of providing free meals. Midnight Kitchen was founded with an anti-oppression mandate that opposes privatization and corporatization. A portion of their budget goes towards educating the community on topics that align with their mandate. This motion passed with a 73.9 per cent “yes” vote.
Midnight Kitchen Collective member and “Yes” Committee Chair Anastasie Dudley, U3 Arts, wrote in a message to The McGill Tribune that Midnight Kitchen is thankful for the support of SSMU members during the referendum period.
“The Midnight Kitchen Collective is relieved by the overwhelming support of both our existence fee and our discretionary funding in the past week,” Dudley wrote. “The maintenance of this fee will allow us to continue operations as usual, and as we have already been giving discretionary funding for years the explicit permission we have now been granted will further allow us to go on as usual.”
Dudley hopes that Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS) members will be equally supportive during the upcoming PGSS Fall Referendum as Midnight Kitchen continues to be a well-used service on campus.
“Given the continued prioritization of corporate interests on campus by the administration, we don't see the need for our service dwindling any time soon and are dedicated to continuing to provide an affordable, healthy alternative,” Dudley said.
Free Menstrual Hygiene Products Fee and Health & Hygiene Products Fund: “Yes”
Brought forward by members of the SSMU Legislative Council, including SSMU President Ben Ger and Vice-President (VP) Student Life Elaine Patterson, approval of this motion will instate a non-opt-outable $0.90 fee in the Winter 2017 semester. The fee will finance a SSMU Health and Hygiene Products Fund that will go towards providing free menstrual hygiene products in restrooms on campus and educating the community on financial discrimination that affects those who experience menstruation. This motion passed with 80.7 per cent “yes” vote.
Ger said that feedback to the motion was mostly positive and that the motion passed by a large margin.
“[Free menstrual hygiene products are] something that [have] been wanted in the past,” Ger said. “People for Menstrual Solidarity, McGill Students for Feminism, both of those groups wanted to see something like this put in place for quite some time. They’ve been doing a lot of the groundwork so we really only came in with implementation phases, recognizing that we have that ability to make change at these high levels.”
According to Ger, SSMU would like to implement the program as soon as possible.
“Our plan in an ideal world would be to have a few [dispensaries] up and running by the time people get back [from winter break], obviously we can’t get every single washroom right off the bat,” Ger said. “It’s a pretty massive project to put all these things everywhere so it will be a bit of a delayed thing where we slowly put them in, I don’t imagine it will take more than a year [….]”
Nomination of the Auditor for the Fiscal Year of 2017: “Yes”
The accounting firm FL Fuller Landau LLP was approved in October by SSMU Council to prepare SSMU’s financial statement for the 2017 fiscal year. The choice of the auditor must be approved by SSMU members at-large on an annual basis. This nomination was ratified with a 89.9 per cent “yes” vote.
According to Ger, the appointment of the auditor is made public in order to maintain transparency.
“The auditor is to make sure that our finances are in check, but also that we’re spending our money appropriately,” Ger said. “It is student dollars that are coming through this space, so making sure that the student body is in approval of the auditing company that we’re using, that the process is transparent every step of the way, is something that we’ve deemed important.”
Ger said that SSMU has encountered financial issues in past years, necessitating the need for an outside firm to assess SSMU’s finances.
“There were issues […] in the past that kind of sprung [the annual nomination of the auditor],” Ger said. “The SSMU went belly up, essentially, and the university came in and took over, and ever since then we’ve hired a full time internal auditor […] to come in to make sure that we’re doing our job right.”
Nomination of the SSMU Board of Directors 2016-17: “Yes”
Also appointed annually, nominations for the Board of Directors are approved in Legislative Council before being approved by SSMU members at-large. This nomination was ratified with an 86.7 per cent “yes” vote.
Ger said that the Board of Directors is recognized as one of the highest decision-making bodies within SSMU and its decisions have a strong influence on services that impact student life.
“Their abilities are split between the Legislative Council and the Board of Directors, but the people that you ratify onto that body are dealing with all the legal, HR, operational–SRC and Gert’s, for example–and building-related matters,” Ger said. “So, it is a lot of stuff that directly impacts students. When people look at ratifying the Board of Directors […] it is still an important process of recognizing who is going to be representing you and choosing to support that.”