Referendum rundown: what you need to know before voting

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Question RE: Bodily Sovereignty

This question is a toned-down version of the General Assembly motion concerning discriminatory groups, which sought to amend the Students’ Society constitution to prohibit pro-life clubs from existing.

A “Yes” vote would require SSMU to take action against groups that compromise “bodily sovereignty.” The question does not single out pro-life groups specifically, but the notion of “bodily sovereignty” has often been understood to include the right to choose.

Liam Olson-Mayes, U2 women’s studies and history, a sponsor of both the GA motion and the current question, claimed that the question is reasonable enough to be supported by Choose Life members.

Natalie Fohl, the former president of Choose Life, gave limited support to the motion.

“The notion of bodily sovereignty does not pose a problem for pro-life groups specifically,” she said “[But] we are concerned with the implications that some may use to interpret this clause.”

Question RE: McGill Tribune independence

At a Council meeting two years ago, SSMU mandated that the Tribune become an independent newspaper. This referendum question seeks to sever the legal and financial ties between the Tribune and SSMU and replace SSMU’s financial support with a three-dollar non-opt-outable fee levied to all undergraduate students. According to Tribune editors, the future of the newspaper is bleak if the referendum fails, as SSMU is not obligated to continue supporting the newspaper in future years.

Question RE: Policy on Matters External to the Society

This question makes it more difficult for a General Assembly to pass motions on “matters external to the Society’s regular activities.” It requires a quorum of 500 students to discuss such matters, two-thirds of whom must vote in favour of beginning discussion on any such motion. According to SSMU President Ivan Neilson, the question addresses the recent controversies at GAs.

Question RE: Environment Fee

If this question passes, it will renew the $1.25 opt-outable SSMU Environment Fee, which expires this semester, until the Winter 2013 semester. The SSMU Environment Fee funds environmental projects within SSMU.

“This is entirely governed by students, so we get to work to student priorities and student timelines,” said Maggie Knight, U3 environmental science and member of the question’s “Yes” committee.

Question RE: QPIRG bylaw changes

If it is approved, this question would allow the Quebec Public Interest Research Group McGill to make changes to its constitution and bylaws at an Annual General Meeting. Right now the group is only allowed to make changes by SSMU referendum. According to the “Yes” committee, this will streamline the group’s operations.

Question RE: Constitution Section Three

This question would move SSMU committee mandates to the Society’s bylaws. They are currently in Section Three of the Constitution. According to Neilson, this would update the SSMU committee structure.

“It’s really out of date, it’s really ineffective, and it doesn’t allow us to do what we’d like to do,” he said.

Question RE: Student Life Fund

This question would create a new space for SSMU’s unspent money. A “Yes” vote would place funds left over after June 1 to go into a new “Student Life Fund.” The money currently goes into the Capital Expenditures Reserve Fund (CERF), where it is no longer available to student groups.

Question Re: TVMcGill Funding

This question proposes a new $0.50 opt-outable fee to help fund TVMcGill’s operations. Executives say that the fee will provide TVMcGill with desperately needed new equipment and raise the group’s profile on campus.

Question RE: WUSC Refugee Scholarship Fund.

Students currently pay 50 cent each term to support two McGill refugee students selected by the World University Service Committee (WUSC). This question asks students to allow the committee to select deserving students from developing countries in years in which there are no qualified refugee students.

Plebiscite RE: Funding the TaCEQ

This question is non-binding, and is intended to gauge students’ support for the Round Table of Quebec Students (TaCEQ) in its quest for grants from the provincial government.