Motion regarding the creation of an Ad-Hoc Student Engagement Committee
Last Thursday, the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Legislative Council passed a motion regarding the creation of an Ad-hoc student engagement committee. Sponsored by Arts Councillor Alexander Kpeglo-Hennessy, SSMU President Courtney Ayukawa, and Arts Councillor Lola Baraldi, the motion aimed to find innovative ways for SSMU to engage constituents.“[I] believe that there is a continuous need […] for councillors and executives to look for new ways to [promote] student engagement, [and] at the moment, we do not have a mandate to do so,” Kpeglo-Hennessy explained. “I think that starting an ad-hoc committee would be [necessary] to start and to potentially institutionalize this for the future.”
Although most of the councillors supported the motion, Science Councillor Omar El-Sharawy expressed opposition to the creation of this committee. He explained that while he values reaching out to students, he feels that students need to make more of an effort as well.
“I have six hours of office hours per week [and] not a single member has come in […] to learn about SSMU,” El-Sharawy said.
Councillor Baraldi however, maintained that the lack of traffic during office hours was precisely the reason why this committee must be formed.
Motion regarding the closing of the Redpath Library doors
Council also approved a motion regarding the reopening of the Redpath Library doors, which currently serve only as emergency exits. VP External Affairs Amina Moustaqim-Barrette explained that there is currently a student-run online campaign to reopen them.
“[This issue] is something that a lot of students care about; they want those Redpath doors reopened,” Moustaqim-Barrette said. “It’s something that we can help with and publicize.”
In response to concerns that SSMU would be forced to pay for security in order to reopen the Redpath Library doors, VP University Affairs Claire Stewart-Kanigan clarified that the motion would simply mandate her to begin discussions with the McLennan-Redpath library administration and explore what options exist with regards to the reopening of the doors.
“Any decisions [regarding] the use of the Library Improvement Fund, which is where this would come out of if SSMU ever decided to pay for the additional security expenses, would be made by the Library Improvement Fund Committee,” Stewart-Kanigan said. “The motion as it stands right now is [for me to] prioritize this in my own negotiations with the library. I don’t want SSMU to be paying for this either, so that’s not on the table right now.”
Affordable food on campus
Deputy Provost (Student Life and Living) Ollivier Dyens also spoke with Council about the recent changes to the food options on campus. Arts and Science Senator Chloe Rourke explained that a lot of students’ frustration with the current food options is centred on the replacement of Tim Hortons and Pizza Pizza with Premiére Moisson in the basement of the Redpath library.
In response, Dyens emphasized that the university made its decision to bring in Premiére Moisson based on the criteria of local and healthy foods.
“Over the past few years, we have made a commitment to better quality food and more sustainable [food],” Dyens explained. “Better quality food will cost more […but] our [primary] concern here is the health of our student body.”
Dyens also explained that Tim Hortons is a large corporation that does not have any fair trade commitments, and that this goes against the values of the university.
When asked about the limitations placed upon student-run food services, Dyens explained that this was for two main reasons.
“Even if [food service] is run by students [and] food poisoning comes in, the university will the one that is going to be sued,” he said. “The second reason is that we have a contract, and these contracts are necessary. Food and other businesses are also a way for us to generate funds that are directly being invested in the university. These funds allow us to compensate for the budget cuts.”