SSMU’s Legislative Council has had, by many accounts, a disappointing year. Although it’s difficult to evaluate the performance of a body of this type, the Tribune feels that this year’s Council deserves a below-average grade. Although there were some councillors who were proactive, well-informed, and contributed in a constructive manner to debates, there were too many councillors who seemed to revel in making mountains out of molehills, and speaking mainly to hear the sound of their own voices.
One of Council’s most important functions is to act as a check on the executive. However, councillors must adequately inform themselves about issues, instead of simply arguing with executives for the sake of it, as councillors sometimes did. For example, there was no valid reason to block the bylaw changes proposed by President Neilson, which were eventually passed in a student-initiated referendum.
Yet another important function of Council is to put forward meaningful motions, and to contribute to the running of the Society .. However, Council this year spent too little time debating important issues, and too much time discussing trivial ones.
On the bright side, attendance at Council was excellent this year, and good work was done in many of the committees. Motions to eliminate styrofoam in the Shatner building, explore vegan food options, and to advocate for paid practicum for education students, were among the worthwhile Council initiatives.
It’s unclear whether Council’s disappointing performance this year is due to its composition, or whether this points to a need to reform the body. But either way, Council didn’t do its job as well as it should have – something that SSMU will have to consider going into next year.