On Oct. 28, the Students’ Society of McGill University’s (SSMU) Judicial Board (J-Board) released an interim order suspending the results of the Oct. 23 General Assembly (GA) vote ratifying the nominations for the new Board of Directors (BoD), which would begin sitting after Nov. 15. While this vote is normally done as a bloc, ratifying all nominations at once, SSMU Vice-President (VP) External Maya Koparkar motioned to divide the question, which passed, allowing GA attendees to ratify each nomination separately. The vote ratified the appointments of seven of the 10 individuals nominated.
The interim order was a response to a petition filed shortly after the GA by Jonathan Glustein, a current director on the BoD who was not up for reappointment. In the petition, Glustein claimed that the motion to divide the ratification question violated SSMU’s Constitution. In their interim conclusion, the J-Board ordered that all of the new Directors, including those who were unratified, be allowed to sit on the BoD from the start of their term, Nov. 15, until the Judicial Board renders its final opinion.
In his petition, Glustein asked the Judicial Board for the interim order to submit the list of 12 directors to be ratified as a bloc via online voting in the Fall 2017 Referendum, which opens Nov. 8.
In the interim order, however, the Judicial Board explained that they were unable to introduce the Referendum question Glustein requested. Referendum questions must be initiated by the Legislative Council or SSMU members, according to section 14.1 of the SSMU Constitution; additionally, they must be submitted two weeks before the voting period opens, which would have been Oct. 25.
“Even if [the Judicial Board] renders a final decision in favour of the unratified Directors, they could not make up the time they would have sat on the Board had the Board of Directors been ratified as a bloc,” the decision read.
However, at a BoD meeting on Nov. 5, SSMU President Muna Tojiboeva announced that upon consultation with legal counsel, the current members will remain on the BoD past the Nov. 15 term until the J-Board case is concluded.
“We have spoken to counsel and it seems that the current Board could be held over in the case that a Judicial Board decision cannot be issued by the Nov. 14 deadline,” Tojiboeva said.
Koparkar, who is listed as the main respondent on Glustein’s petition, is friendly to his suggestion and willing to go back to a bloc vote. In an interview with The McGill Tribune, Koparkar explained that she motioned to split the vote because of concerns that the BoD was not truly democratic.
“The idea of having the Board members in the future on separate ballots was something that people seemed amenable to,” Koparkar said. “Because of how we voted on it at Legislative Council, and in talks with the executives and [Speaker], I was under the impression that people would be ok with it [….] I think we all just thought it would be an easy way of legitimizing the votes for each Director.”
According to Koparkar, the section of the SSMU Constitution primarily under consideration in this case is section 6.5, which mandates that nominated Directors be ratified by SSMU members through referendum or at the General Assembly. It also states that the whole must be in accordance with sections 6.2 and 6.3, which concern BoD composition and Director qualifications. Koparkar said the reference to “the whole” is the main point of disagreement.
“Some people took [“the whole”] as meaning a bloc vote, and some took it as meaning by the whole of the General Assembly,” Koparkar said. “I think that’s where things get confusing, and it’s the Judicial Board’s job to interpret these things.”
Former Council speaker Jad El Tal was listed in Glustein’s petition as a second respondent, but he resigned on Oct. 27. As the petition was filed against him solely in his professional capacity, he is no longer necessarily a part of the case. Additionally, although Koparkar made the initial motion to divide the vote on BoD ratification, debate was interrupted, and the motion to divide which ended up passing at the GA was made by a SSMU member, Chantelle Schultz, U3 Arts.
At the Nov. 5 BoD meeting, Glustein explained that naming Koparkar as a respondent was a deliberate and legally necessary choice.
“The reason why the VP Internal is listed as a respondent is because the idea was brought by the VP internal in the first place, as well as the fact that somebody needs to be named in a SSMU capacity in the Judicial Board case,” Glustein said.