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Principal Fortier addressed councillors in Jan.15 meeting. (Emma Hameau / McGill Tribune)

SSMU Council reviews budget, hears address from Principal Fortier

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The Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU)  Council met on Thursday to review executive reports from the past semester, including the SSMU budget, and to discuss the implementation of interim election regulations for this semester.

Address by Principal Suzanne Fortier

Principal Suzanne Fortier made an appearance at the meeting, giving a year-in-review speech in which she highlighted McGill’s Arts Research Internship Awards and other accomplishments. Principal Fortier then stood for questions from Council,  fielding concerns expressed by students on issues of tuition and financial accessibility.

In response to a question from Vice-President External Affairs Amina Moustaqim-Barrette regarding McGill’s risk of becoming an elitist university in terms of financial accessibility, Fortier cited the bursary fund.

“McGill is an elitist university in terms of academic achievement,” Fortier said. “[It] is able to attract very good students because it has the top bursary program in Canada in terms of money per student. If I were to talk about what makes a good university […] it’s the ability to attract students not on the basis of what they can pay, but on the basis of their academic achievements.”

Motion to pass interim election regulations

The Council passed a motion to implement interim provisions regarding the SSMU Nominating Committee and online ratification of General Assembly resolutions. The new Nominating Committee will consist of four councillors and four members at large, and the committee Chair will be appointed by the SSMU general manager rather than the president.

These interim provisions aim to adhere to a less executive-centred model, increasing the committee’s objectivity.

“In the previous Nominating Committee, all of the executives were members, along with three councillors,” Vice-President University Affairs Claire Stewart-Kanigan said. “These positions are supposed to be very distanced from SSMU, given that they’re elections and judicial board justices, so we spent a lot of time talking about how we can make this more distanced from the executives to avoid potential conflicts of interest and increase the objectivity of these bodies.”

Stewart-Kanigan said the changes may be a larger part of a reform in Elections SSMU.

“This could potentially be part of a shift toward moving Elections SSMU from the presidential portfolio into the general manager portfolio to increase the objectivity of this process,” Stewart-Kanigan said.

Report on last semester’s budget

In a review of SSMU’s budget, expenses, and investment portfolio from last semester, Vice-President Finance and Operations Kathleen Bradley noted that Gerts ran a deficit of $25,724. Bradley said she was unconcerned, explaining that these numbers were nothing out of the ordinary compared to previous years. The Nest ran a deficit of $27,210. She attributing the low sales at both venues to the construction on McTavish.

“Food sales are down pretty substantially at The Nest, but I’m happy to report that costs of sales are well controlled, and salaries and benefits have been addressed,” Bradley said. “That was the primary failing of last year’s budget.”

Overall, sales at both Gerts and The Nest were better than projected in the budget, and SSMU operations differed from its projected budget by  $10,000.

Announcement of new SSMU General Manager

President Courtney Ayukawa announced the hiring of the new SSMU General Manager, who will begin transitioning into their new role in early February.

“The General Manager was selected based on a number of factors,” Ayukawa said. “She needed to have a great diversity of previous experience. It’s really hard to find someone who can do marketing, daycare, student development, budgeting, and human resources—it’s a pretty diverse portfolio.”

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