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Not enough students attended the Fall GA and it failed to reach quorum (Sara Cullen / McGill Tribune)

SSMU GA fails to meet quorum

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Quorum was not met at yesterday’s General Assembly (GA), held by the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU). With less than 100 attendees, no motions were brought forward from the floor that required voting.

The Winter 2015 and Fall 2014 GAs saw attendances of 550 and 700 students respectively. Kareem Ibrahim, SSMU president, commented on the low attendance of the GA, stating that promotional efforts were not prioritized.

“Admittedly, we could have done a better job of promoting,” Ibrahim said. “[With] the absence of the general manager and the [vice-president (VP)] internal and other tumultuous things in the SSMU office this year, we really had to put more emphasis on things that are very pressing.”

Ibrahim continued to mention that the abolition of the GA has been repeatedly discussed in past executive reports.

“People think that this forum is defunct; they don’t really think it serves its purpose and that the only time people actually show up is for specific issues,” Ibrahim said. “In terms of my thoughts, I think it’s on the table to have one annual GA per year.”

Ibrahim noted that more efforts would have been made to promote the GA had there been more pressing issues on the agenda.

“I’m not terribly upset that we didn’t meet quorum today because there wasn’t anything that we needed to get approved,” Ibrahim said. “If there were, I definitely would have put a much stronger effort into promoting this [….] With all the things that are on the table right now […] I don’t feel that as an executive, it would have been a wise way to spend [our] time to promote a GA where there’s nothing to approve.” 

Despite this, the GA agenda was approved and continued as planned.

Frosh and 4Floors 

VP Finance and Operations, Zacheriah Houston, stated in his executive report that in terms of finances, the planning and execution of Frosh went well.

“Frosh […] took up a lot of time, and this year, we ran things a little differently,” Houston said. “I was a lot more involved with the VP Internal and [Integrated Orientation Committee (IOC)] in terms of planning Frosh,” Houston said. “We don’t have the final numbers yet—we’re still waiting on the invoices from McGill—but it looks like Frosh is going to be a balanced budget.”

Houston also stated that 4Floors did not sell out this year, resulting in an overall deficit for the event.

“[4Floors] went pretty well in terms of finances, until we didn’t sell out,” Houston said. “We were able to cut a lot of expenses, but at the end of the day 4Floors ran a deficit. Unfortunately, I don’t have the number yet, but it looks like 4Floors lost probably two to $4,000.”

VP External Emily Boytinck also mentioned in her report that 4Floors had low ticket sales. François-Paul Truc, U3 Science, asked Boytinck to elaborate on the reasons that the event ran over-budget.

“We started [planning] a little bit later this year,” Boytnick said. “It took us […] longer to pick the theme and get the event up [….] We also switched to online ticket sales this year [.…] We thought […] that this was a great idea—that the line was going to go away and that this would be so much more convenient for students. But we realized that the line itself was a major form of promotion, and so we found that the online ticket sales […] lost the urgency.”

Despite not staying within budget, Boytinck expressed that the event was a success overall.

“We ended up selling about 600 [tickets, when] last year, they sold about 900,” Boyntick said. “So it’s unfortunate that we didn’t […] sell out, but I still think that everyone who came had a great time and [the] equity complaints were zero.  There were [also] no issues with [McGill Student Emergency Response Team] M-SERT. It was in general a very positive event even if it was less attended.”

Fall reading week 

VP University Affairs, Chloe Rourke, stated in her report that a possible change to the academic calendar to include a Fall reading week would not be made for several years.

“A survey was sent out to all undergraduate students last winter, and it came back that 71 per cent of students were in favour of Fall reading week, and the majority preferred a five-day break in conjunction with Canadian Thanksgiving,” Rourke said. “So, that’s something that we’ll really be pushing for this year, and hopefully we’ll have it implemented by 2017-2018.”

Rourke expressed uncertainty over the timeline of incorporating the new reading week. 

[It is] still to be determined if it can be [implemented] that early,” Rourke said. “That’s the nature of university—that things are often very slow-moving and decisions are often made about the academic calendar very far in advance.”

Proposal to restructure the SSMU executive committee

The GA concluded with a discussion on the expanding roles of SSMU executives and the need for restructuring within the SSMU executive committee. According to Ibrahim’s report, one of the ideas for change would be the addition of a seventh SSMU executive position. 

Lauren Toccalino, U3 Music, inquired how the creation of new executive positions would affect the budget.

“It is unlikely that the executive salaries would be affected, because they already make […] about five to six dollars an hour, if you divide the actual work they do by their salaries,” Houston said. “I was asked at Council if we could afford to pay a seventh executive, and the answer is certainly yes; the money is there if you want to start cutting other departments. It becomes a question of priorities, and at this point in time, I am not confident in saying that we can pay a seventh executive the salary that we pay executives now without significant cuts that would affect the services that we provide to our members.”

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