At its Jan. 26 session, the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Legislative Council heard proposed amendments to the internal regulations of governance of SSMU by the Ad Hoc Democratic Review Committee and executives presented updates on aspects of their portfolios.
The Ad Hoc Democratic Review Committee, which was created by the Legislative Council in the Fall 2016 semester, presented a Notice of Motion Regarding the Amendment of the Internal Regulations of Governance. Arts Senator Igor Sadikov emphasized that it was an informational presentation, meaning that Council did not go through a vote to ratify the proposed amendments.
The Board of Directors (BoD) of SSMU is the governing body of SSMU that exists above the Legislative Council. Sadikov explained that currently the BoD ratifies all Legislative Council motions before they are implemented.
“[The amendments] would retain that process, however Council decisions would basically come into effect immediately and the [BoD] would have a choice of ratifying or overturning them,” Sadikov said. “And if it’s overturned it would come back to the Legislative Council and basically the internal regulations would recommend that the Board only exercise this power very sparingly.”
Sadikov presented on the Committee’s recommendation to amend article 5.3 of the Internal Regulations of Governance in order to outline the process of how J-Board decisions go through the Legislative Council and the BoD. The amendment in its current form would give the BoD the option to refer the J-Board’s opinion to the Legislative Council and give the BoD the power to overturn the opinion of the J-Board by a simple majority. Currently, overturning a J-Board decision requires a four-fifths (or “super”) majority.
Councillor Tre Mansdoerfer questioned this amendment, arguing that the J-Board is external to SSMU and so it should be difficult by design for SSMU governance bodies to overturn its opinions.
“J-Board makes decisions on things such as SSMU elections and for the BoD to be able to overturn a J-Board decision on that such as when candidates maybe do violate protocol, I don’t feel comfortable just having the BoD having a simple majority to overturn the J-Board decision,” Mansdoerfer said. “I would like to see a supermajority added to the legislative council portion in terms of overturning J-Board decisions.”
Faculty of Medicine Senator Joshua Chin asked about the degree of consultation that the BoD had received in regards to these changes, to which Sadikov responded that the Board will have the opportunity to give feedback when it next meets. The BoD has yet to meet this semester.
Vice-President (VP) University Affairs Erin Sobat relayed that the Office of University Affairs has released its research report on first generation students at McGill, titled Striving to Place: The First Generation Student Experience at McGill University.
“On that front we’re trying to work with different partners across the university in the context of the new Strategic Plan being introduced by the Provost [Manfredi] to have a focus on student diversity and admissions recruitment and retention,” Sobat said.
VP Student Life Elaine Patterson spoke on SSMU’s commitment to implement the Free Menstrual Hygiene Products Policy, stating that there had been delays in receiving the necessary equipment to place dispensers across campus.
VP Operations Sacha Magder was absent. SSMU President Ben Ger was also absent, but Sobat presented his report to Council.