Table de concertation étudiante du Québec (TaCEQ, or the Quebec Student Roundtable)
TaCEQ Secretary-General Paul-Antoine Cardin spoke to Council about TaCEQ’s participation in an ongoing case in the Quebec Superior Court, as well as the delay of a congress intended to address TaCEQ reform. A student lobbying group, TaCEQ is composed of four student member associations, including the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU).
Two Quebec university students, Laurent Proulx and Miguel Bergeron, filed the case in an attempt to challenge the Quebec Act of Respecting the Accreditation and Financing of Students’ Associations, which states that every student in Quebec must be part of a student association. Proulx and Bergeron argue that the act infringes upon students’ right to free association.
TaCEQ will act as a third party in the case, and will present a counter-argument that supports the existing legislation. SSMU Vice-President Samuel Harris explained the reasoning behind SSMU’s support for this initiative.
“[The law] would, in effect, make SSMU and all student associations opt-outable,” he said. “It truly is an existential matter for us. SSMU is so strong and does so much for its members because we are 22,000 strong together.”
The Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ), and Fédération des enseignantes et enseignants de CEGEP (FEC-CSQ), are also arguing against Proulx and Bergeron in the case, as well as the other three associations in TaCEQ—Université Laval’s undergraduate society, Laval’s graduate society, and Université de Sherbooke’s graduate society.
Harris said SSMU has agreed to contribute up to $10,000 to the case.
“SSMU has a legal professional fees line item on our budget, I believe it’s about $80,000,” Harris said. “TaCEQ as a whole has agreed to spend just under $30,000 together. This is something we all agree on, so […] we’d be spending less money on [it] than if [SSMU] wanted to be interveners ourselves [outside of TaCEQ].”
At Council, Cardin also announced changes concerning an upcoming congress on TaCEQ reform, which was original scheduled for October, but was cancelled because the Sherbroooke graduate student association felt that the original date did not give them enough preparation time. Cardin said that another congress will be planned in the near future.
“The associations will meet on Sept. 21 in Quebec City to decide on a time frame and an agenda to continue the discussions,” Cardin said. “For now, the discussions will be held by each association’s representatives around the table.”
Harris emphasized the need for TaCEQ to seek improved transparency and make an effort to increase bilingualism within the organization.
“[SSMU wants] the TaCEQ constitution and the TaCEQ website to have a translated version so that it’s accessible to SSMU members,” Harris said. “We’ve created a TaCEQ budget which will be going public soon, which outlines specifically where the money is going.”
General Assembly (GA)
To address challenges meeting quorum at previous SSMU GAs, SSMU President Katie Larson announced a new marketing program focused on advertising the event. According to Larson, a new secretarial position was created over the summer to lead the marketing program, although the position has not yet been filled. The Fall GA is set to take place on Oct. 15.
Motion regarding an ad-hoc Mental Health Committee
Council also passed a motion to create an ad-hoc Mental Health Committee. According to VP University Affairs Joey Shea, the goal of the committee is to draft a policy on mental health by the end of the 2013-2014 academic year. Shea stressed the importance of creating a university-wide policy as opposed to having individual faculty policies.
“One in five people will experience a mental illness over the course of their lifetime—mental illness is not a faculty-specific problem, it affects all students,” Shea said. “We need an integrated policy to promote awareness about these issues, and to support all groups pursuing similar ends.”
Shea also stated that the members of the committee have not yet been chosen, but will include herself, SSMU councillors, and mental health advisory board representatives, among others.