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Natalie Talmi

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Hey McGill! My priority as your VP Internal is maintaining student independence. My goal is to encourage more involvement from the McGill community at large. I am passionate about integrating clubs and organizations into the planning process. Why not have Midnight Kitchen cater events? Or the Film Society help organize Movies in the Park? My passion for student life stems from my involvement with Frosh as a Science Coordinator and my position on the Orientation Working Group, which has spent the year developing a new integrated Frosh. I am committed to promoting sustainability in events and life on campus.

Salut McGill! Ma priorité en tant que future VP Interne est de maintenir l’autonomie des étudiants. Je veux encourager la participation de l’ensemble de la communauté universitaire. Pourquoi ne pas engager Midnight Kitchen comme traiteur pour les évènements étudiants? Ou engager la Société Cinématographique pour organiser Movies in the Park? Ma passion pour la vie étudiante provient de ma participation au Frosh en tant que coordonnateur science ainsi que mon poste avec le Orientation Working Group, qui a développer le nouveau Frosh intégré. Je suis aussi dévouée à la promotion de la durabilité environnementale dans la vie scolaire à McGill.

Shyam Patel

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After serving as Funding Coordinator, I have attained important skill sets needed to represent the many clubs, services, faculty associations and students on campus. My main goal is to make SSMU funds more accessible and available. Funding has been limited and my experience will allow me to best represent groups. Students heavily rely on the funds and the Society comes first. Increasing student involvement under this portfolio is also lacking. Students need to be involved with the investment portfolio, Gerts operations, Mini Courses, and the Book Bazaar’s online launch. 

Choose experience. Put students first. VOTE PATEL!

Après avoir œuvré en tant que « Funding Coordinator », j’ai acquis plusieurs outils nécessaires pour représenter différent clubs, services offerts, associations spécifiques aux facultés et la population étudiante en général. Mon premier objectif est d’augmenter la disponibilité et l’accessibilité des fonds de l’AÉUM. Les étudiants sont très dépendants du financement et leurs intérêts sont prioritaires. Le niveau d’implication des étudiants est d’ailleurs très bas. Ils ont besoin de participer davantage dans le portfolio d’investissements, Gerts, des Mini Courses, et du lancement du « Book Bazaar » en ligne.Choisissez l’expérience. Donnez la priorité aux étudiants. VOTEZ PATEL!

Christina Sfeir

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I’m Christina Sfeir. I have experience in organizing the majority of SSMU events that were held this year, specifically Faculty Olympics. My platform stands on four main goals. 1. The improvement of existing events. 2.Communication, for example, making Get Ready McGill a branded name. 3. Environmental initiatives, having a green roof on top of Shatner. 4. Lastly, creating a variety of events, such as a speaker series. I have an adaptable, friendly personality. I am dedicated, hardworking and creative. I have the motivation and initiative to make your 2011/2012 an amazing year. Vote Christina Sfeir, the BEST you’ll ever have.

Evan Jolicoeur

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I am currently in my 3rd year of a BScN program. Throughout the years, I have been an active member, in a number of diverse organizations including political, student bodies, environmental organizations and have sat on committees and advisory boards. Currently I am the Vice-President CNSA (Canadian Nursing Student Association) on the McGill Nursing Undergraduate Society, I also sit on the Board of Directors of CNSA as Quebec Regional Director. I plan to represent all the Schools and departments within the Faculty of Medicine. I will be the professional student voice on issues that matter to us on Senate.

Je suis présentement dans mon troisième année dans le programme de BScN. À travers les années, j’était impliqué dans divers organizations incluant des groupes politiques, conceils d’etudiant(e)s, environnementaux, et j’étais aussi membres sur des committées. Présentement je suis le Vice-Président de l’AEIC (Association des Étudiant(e)s Infirmier(ère)s du Canada), et je suis membre du Conseil d’Administration comme Directeur Régionale du Quebec. Comme sénateur j’espère représenté tout les Écoles et department dans la Faculté de Médecine. Je serais le voix d’étudiant professionel sur les problèmes qui sont important pour nous, sur le Sénat.

SSMU to give opt-outable groups chance to speak out

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The Students’ Society is gearing up to help opt-outable groups and services to protect their revenues. SSMU Vice-President Clubs and Services Anushay Khan announced at SSMU Council this week that roundtable discussions with several such groups—which include several SSMU services, the Quebec Public Interest Research Group, and CKUT Radio—led Khan to offer them a chance to provide more information about themselves to students. The move comes in the wake of last semester’s controversy between Conservative McGill and QPIRG.

While SSMU has always offered postering space in the Shatner Building to these groups, Khan said, this year it intends to expand their ability to reach constituents. This includes more posters in Shatner, electronic signage, and, starting next year, a chance to offer short descriptions of what they do in the first edition of the SSMU listserv.

According to Khan, the issue is  SSMU’s responsibility. Even student groups unaffiliated with SSMU are working to benefit students, she said, and many provide services that SSMU cannot offer directly. Opt-outs therefore, can pose a financial strain for SSMU.

Moreover, Khan cited a motion regarding opt-outs passed at the October 2007 General Assembly. It called for SSMU to “take every reasonable action to reclaim and protect the sovereignty and independence of all campus student groups and activities” and attempt to “put an end to the online opt-out system recently created by the University such that campus groups shall be in charge of their own opt-out process.”

Khan said this may be controversial, but it provides a clear directive for her to act upon.  

“If any other student group came to me with a request, I would have to help them too,” she said, “with SSMU’s mandate and goals in mind and regardless of my personal opinion.”

The resolution opposes online opt-outs only. Khan called the opt-out system a good idea in and of itself. Due to its easy execution, she said, opting out often results from  misinformation.

Khan’s evidence for this is the growth of “shadow opt-outs,” whereby students opt out of all possible services rather than one or two explicitly political causes. These account for the majority of student opt-outs. The solution is to either  change the system, or to create a better forum for providing information—even if only one side of the opt-out debate ends up speaking.

Access to information was the subject of another new initiative announced at council this week: a new SSMU website, with an initial price tag of $31,000. The site has been in the process of a steady overhaul since a 2007-08 redesign that first changed the site from text-based HTML to a more user-friendly and frequently updated page.

Citing concerns that what was intended as a temporary fix is still fairly unusable,  SSMU VP Finance and Operations Nick Drew plans a redesign of the website to make it a one-stop shop that will be easier to navigate.

Drew justifies the website’s cost by pointing to Plank Multimedia, Inc., the company SSMU is hiring to redo the website. The Montreal-based organization has designed websites for clients like Michael Moore, the Bell Centre, and the Canadian Medical Association. Drew explains that companies with less expensive quotes could not do what he wanted—design a high-quality site on an open source platform that would minimize future update costs—and tended to refer him to Plank as a company that could offer the level of expertise necessary.

The website will also spell the end of SSMU’s short-lived Book Bazaar. Drew plans to save money by moving it completely online as of next year as part of a broad online marketplace. While this will overlap with existing services like McGill Classifieds and MUS Classy, Drew posited that this will be more advanced than such rivals and more trustworthy than sites like Craigslist and Kijiji.

“We’re looking to do something more dynamic,” he said, “with pictures and a more appealing look so students know exactly what they’re buying.”  

The site will also feature an “auto-expire” feature that removes items when they are no longer available, and will be limited to student buyers and sellers.

SSMU Report Card

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Zach Newburgh

President

 With student consultation as one of the main themes of the semester, President Zach Newburgh has thus far done an exemplary job representing the students at McGill.

Newburgh was an effective public face during the Arch Café saga and helped to mobilize students by speaking at the first café rally and standing up to the administration at numerous senate meetings. Out of this, he was able to help establish the student consultation group. However, only time will tell whether this will be an effective or useful committee.

Newburgh has been a strong but tempered voice at council meetings. By abstaining on certain more controversial issues, he has done a good job serving the role of president as a moderate representative of the students without injecting any personal ideologies into voting. He has also shown himself to be extremely accessible to the press and to students, as he is often available to chat in his office and has also hosted numerous “Meet the SSMU President” lunches.

This Fall’s General Assembly was, yet again, a dismal failure, but this is not entirely Newburgh’s fault. Although SSMU can set up well-planned events, it is up to the students to engage in them (this was also an issue with this year’s less than successful HomeKoming). Newburgh has said that he wants serious GA reform and we think it’s about time that SSMU execs stop talking about creating committees to “review the GA’s effectiveness” and actually act on change. Throughout the rest of the academic year, Newburgh ought to push hard to abolish—or at least aggressively reform—the GA in favour of a more useful system for passing resolutions.

 

Joshua Abaki

VP University Affairs

Josh Abaki began his year by accomplishing something he promised during his campaign: extending the Redpath library’s hours. He has also been the most persistent student voice in senate regarding the Architecture Café. On this matter, he was the forceful advocate many students desired. Abaki has the important responsibility of representing SSMU on the new Student Consultation Group headed by Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Morton Mendelson, which will hopefully provide a new method for students to participate in university decision-making.

We hope Abaki looks for avenues of cooperation and partnership rather than antagonism. Impressively, Abaki has successfully persuaded students to participate in various university committees, which has in the past been a huge challenge for this portfolio.

While Abaki suffered slightly from misinformation regarding proposed changes to the Athletics Board, his vigilance on the matter and his zeal for representing students’ interests were impressive. Looking forward to next semester, we hope Abaki does his best to express students’ interests to the administration regarding contact hours.

 

Myriam Zaidi

VP External

So far this year, Vice-President External Myriam Zaidi has been focused on two major projects: building up the Quebec Student Roundtable (QSR), and fighting tuition hikes. Zaidi has devoted significant time and effort to QSR, which is poised to be a successful alternative to the province’s other student lobbying groups such as FEUQ and ASSE. In particular, she’s taken an active role in the communications side of the organization, helping coordinate QSR’s campaign and promotion materials. Most important for McGill students, Zaidi is working to ensure that QSR’s communication strategy is accessible to both Francophone and Anglophone students in the province. Since September, Zaidi has also been actively working to prevent tuition increases and to mobilize McGill students around this cause. To do this, she relaunched Tuition Truth, SSMU’s anti-tuition truth campaign, including a revamped website. Zaidi is also organizing buses for student protesters to attend the Meeting of the Education Partners in Quebec City on December 6. While Zaidi has also been busy with the typical VP external task of “community building” with the Milton-Parc community, this will largely be a futile task as long as Frosh happens every September. Overall, Zaidi has played an important role in the growth of QSR and has taken practical steps towards organizing McGill students who oppose tuition increases. While the Tribune commends these efforts, we hope Zaidi will diversify her portfolio next semester as her predecessor Sebastian Ronderos-Morgan did, for example with Fill the Hill and the campaign to gain paid practicum for Education students.

 

Tom Fabian

VP Internal

Tom Fabian’s remake of the SSMU listserv has given people something to talk about this year. Is he refreshing SSMU’s announcements or is he getting in the way?  Is he funny or not?  The Tribune leaves this to its readers to decide.  If nothing else, he’s a risk-taker who’s not afraid to try new ideas on a traditionally apathetic student body.  Most importantly, he introduced HomeKoming, a new series of SSMU-sponsored events around October’s Homecoming football game.  It was a new and ambitious idea, but not a runaway success (despite offering a pancake kegger at Gert’s). Events often take a few years to become well-established, however. Don’t be surprised if it becomes a bigger event overtime.

Fabian also introduced the Get Ready website to hype SSMU events, which is a well-developed promotional tool. His edition of 4Floors was a huge success, and a winter semester sequel is in the works.  With Gert’s making plenty of money, the second annual Week 101 in January should do well. Fabian also plans to have a three-day music festival tentatively called SSMUthFest. The VP Internal has always been an event coordinator, and Tom Fabian is an excellent one. Whether you think he’s funny or not, he’s doing his job.

 

Anushay Irfan Khan

VP Clubs and Services

Anushay Khan has started the year off well for the most part. She has taken on some worthy new initiatives, such as  facilitating the establishment of the Plate Service, creating a rubric to help standardize office selection, adding sections on sustainability to club “how-to” documents, setting up the SSMU break-out room, and putting advanced room bookings online to help clubs get space in the Shatner Building more easily. She has also maintained her portfolio well, running a smooth Activities Night and otherwise supporting many of the services and clubs.

At the same time, Khan has made some decisions that call her priorities into question. Particularly, she spent significant time defending QPIRG during the opt-out period, a strange decision considering that QPIRG is not under SSMU, and thus does not fall under her purview, except for “maintaining relations.”  Moreover, she adopted some unprofessional rhetoric in her responses to those encouraging the opt-outs like the Swiss Club.  She also wrote “FML” as her entire report about opt-outs, and told councillors that a General Assembly motion about club sovereignty discouraged them from advocating opt-outs.  

Still, Khan has shown admirable devotions to students’ causes. Next semester, we would like to see her take up the mantle on clubs being allowed to use the McGill name again.  She spent a lot of time on this at the beginning of the year, but has not reported on it since it went unresolved in September. This is something important to all clubs, and a worthy priority for her to renew.

We recognize that this involves negotiating with an often stubborn administration, and that she does not have as much interface with administrators as the president or VP university affairs. Therefore, working with these members of her executive should be a priority and Khan should focus on regular reports to council.

 

Nick Drew

VP Finance and Operations

Nick Drew has done an impressive job managing the finance and operations portfolio this semester, especially with his effective promotion of Gert’s. Drew has built on the work of his predecessor, Jose Diaz, and turned the bar into a popular campus hangout space with revenues to match. We hope the bar will perform just as well next semester.

SSMU’s decision to shut Haven Books, its financial sinkhole of a bookstore, at the end of last year has made Drew’s job much easier than for previous VP FOPs, though SSMU will continue to pay rent on the space into the winter semester. Drew’s replacement for Haven, an initiative called the Book Bazaar, was held at the beginning of the semester in the Shatner Building with modest success. The business model may need some tweaking, but we’re excited to see it improve next semester.

Due to a budget shortfall this semester, Drew has temporarily cut the funds allocated to bringing a speaker or musician to campus in the spring. Though we understand the decision, the Tribune hopes he will be able to reinstate the funds next semester. Last year’s Girl Talk concert and Salman Rushdie address were both extremely popular with students, and we’d love to see a similar event this spring.

 

SSMU Legislative Council

Grading any large public body—whether it’s Parliament or the Students’ Society Council—is something of an exercise in futility. Like Parliament, SSMU Council possesses a number of bright, articulate members as well as more obnoxious, less informed councillors. On the whole, however, this year’s council has been fairly competent, with many members speaking up during debate. This year’s executive has been less vocal than their predecessors, and councillors have stepped up their participation accordingly.

That council spends too much time debating trivial issues is a perennial complaint, and this year’s council has been no exception. Debates about procedural issues, such as changing certain aspects of Robert’s Rules of Order, have taken up too much time this semester, as well as motions to provide pizza, coffee, and tea to councillors.

Council has been noticeably divided between the left and right of the political spectrum this year, but councillors have kept their debates impressively civil, as Spencer Burger and Maggie Knight—who frequently but respectfully disagree—noted last week. This is a welcome change from previous years, when councillors had been known to storm out of the Lev Bukhman Room when motions failed to go their way.

Plate Club becomes SSMU Plate Service

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After three successful years of serving McGill students, the Plate Club has become a thing of the past. Students will no longer be able to go to the Plate Club to borrow dishware for lunch or events. Luckily for students the Plate Service will be filling that void.

In an effort to expand the Plate Club’s influence, the Students’ Society has adopted it, transforming the former club into an official service of the SSMU. The Plate Club was started in 2008 by Tim Dowling in order to cut down the amount of unsustainable plateware used by students and promote an overall greener campus.

The Plate Service plans to continue operations as usual, but will now have a larger budget that will allow for the purchasing of more inventory and, in turn, the lending of more sustainable dishware.

“It doesn’t change our mandate, which was always to help everyone at McGill,” said Jenny Lu, the Plate Service events co-ordinator. “For us, becoming a service doesn’t change our purpose or what we want to do—it just gives us better resources to do it.”

Lu explained that SSMU approached the Plate Club last spring with an interest in converting the organization into an official service.

“[During the elections], a lot of [candidates] mentioned the Plate Club and a lot of them wanted to expand the Plate Club and do all sorts of stuff to be more sustainable,” she said. “But they never actually talked to us, none of us knew about it.”

In order to expand the Plate Club into a service, SSMU Vice-President Clubs and Services, Anushay Khan, worked with the organization to formally establish it as both a part of SSMU and a fully accounatble entity.

“The difference between a club and a service essentially is that a service is actually a department of SSMU, financially, in terms of our organization and our structure, so becoming a service is not a small change,” she said. “You need to learn a lot about SSMU before being able to function efficiently.”

Despite talk of expansion, however, the Plate Service has maintained that they ultimately want to dissolve as a lunch service and exist solely for events.

“We in the Plate Club feel that ideally the club should not exist for lunch service,” said Christian Scott, the Plate Service’s lunch co-ordinator. “Ideally SSMU and the food vendors, and McGill in general, should find a way, maybe through more sustainability-focused contracts, to totally eliminate plastic, paper, and Styrofoam containers.”

Khan echoed this sentiment and said that this is also what SSMU has in mind for the service.

“Our vision for the Plate Service on the whole is to not even have a Plate Service,” she said. “But to make it so intuitive for everyone to pick up a plate and use it instead of using Styrofoam or plastic because we’re trying to get rid of [those types of plates] as a whole.”

Plate Service members seem to agree that the best way to reach these goals is to include an obligation to use sustainable plates in the future negotiation of leases with vendors.

“We really want to get involved with SSMU this year,” Lu said. “Especially because the contracts with the vendors are expiring this year, so we really want to get them to negotiate a no-Styrofoam [agreement].”

Khan said there will be increased consideration of sustainability in the upcoming negotiations with tenants of the Shatner Building.

Along with other green services around campus, such as Midnight Kitchen and Organic Campus, the Plate Service hopes to make sustainable living an intuitive choice for all students at McGill.

“The whole thing about sustainability is a trend, but at the same time it should become a way of life, versus a fad,” Khan said. “I think [we need] this lifestyle change, which is important. If we don’t act, no one will.”

SSMU may facilitate ablutions

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When McGill Muslim students perform the ablution ritual, in which they wash their feet and hands multiple times before daily prayers, it can lead to wet countertops in Shatner bathrooms. To avoid the inconvenience and to ease the the ritual’s practice, the Students’ Society is attempting to take initiatives towards installing ablution-friendly facilities.

In 2005, Muslim students lost their prayer space in Peterson Hall and are currently forced to pray in the Muslim Student Association office in the Shatner Building.  

“No one really brought it up as a serious issue,” said Anushay Khan, SSMU vice-president clubs and services. “But there were complaints from people at Gert’s and many other services in the ground floor [of the Shatner building], because there often is a lot of water spillage.”  

Many Muslim countries have public washrooms with special facilities for ablution. Although the same expectations do not exist at McGill, SSMU is still taking steps to facilitate the ritual.   

“Being Muslim, I figured I can best understand the issue myself, so I did a bit of research and there are many universities in North America that have installed things like this,” Khan said. “I felt that it was something that Muslim students needed [and] considering that their space had been taken away in the past they were already in an unfair situation.”

After research on the issue, Khan decided a sink that allows its users to sit down was found to be a suitable solution. She contacted the McGill administration, since SSMU was unable to undertake the project alone.

“It is something that the university should have provided as part of a culture of sensitivity, so we are definitely trying to push for the university to pay for at least a portion of it,” Khan said. “But I really don’t think that this is something the university is interested in doing.”

Even though improved washroom facilities would be beneficial for the Muslim community at McGill, Muslim Students’ Association VP External Aya Salah explained that the issue is secondary to their prayer space problem.

“It’s not really a priority right now with us,” Salah said. “The fact that it’s wet, that’s something we can control.”  

Prayer space on the other hand has been a constant issue for the MSA. Their biggest concern is to acquire a room other than their office where prayer, which Muslims must perform five times a day, can take place.   

“We pray in the MSA office, [which] is not meant as a prayer space,” Salah said. “But there is nowhere else on campus.”

Unfortunately, Khan explained that space in the Shatner building is extremely limited, and increasing the prayer space would be a difficult task.

“Right now the space that we give them is small,” Khan said. “I understand that, but at the same time many other services don’t have space, and every Friday we always give them the ballroom.”

The only action that SSMU can take right now, according to Khan, is to assist the MSA with the complaint they have filed under the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms against McGill for taking away their prayer space.

Erin Hale, a U3 philosophy student and former McGill Daily editor, had been concerneds, but was relieved to find that it was not their biggest concern.   

“I guess I’m happy it’s a non-issue,” she said.

All motions pass at sparsely attended GA

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Last Thursday, the student body passed all six resolutions proposed at a sparsely attended Fall General Assembly.

The resolutions regarding the Students’ Society liquor licence, gender parity, and liability were passed with few or no amendments. The resolutions regarding the volume in Gert’s, the Arts Undergraduate Society fundraiser, and the student-run printing service also passed, but with major amendments.

After a heated debate on the resolution regarding the volume in Gert’s, an amendment raised the proposed volume limit from 60 decibels to 140 decibels. This amended resolution was eventually discarded, and the final resolution stated “that Gert’s Bar Managers abide by the requests of the majority of patrons.”

Allan Cyril, Engineering Undergraduate Society VP Internal and the mover of the resolution, said he was neutral about the outcome of this resolution but was glad that the bartenders are now mandated to listen to the students.

“I was kind of upset that the Gert’s bartending staff were the ones who didn’t really recognize that there was a problem, even though a lot of students have said there is a problem,” Cyril said.

Gert’s night manager Stephanie Gossage argued that the motion probably won’t seriously affect the way Gert’s operates.

“In the end, what came of it was a nondescript clause that doesn’t really mean anything at all,” she said. “It seemed like a big waste of time. I don’t think we’re actually going to see anything come of this, to be honest.”

The resolution regarding liability was passed after Eli Freedman, the motion’s mover and a Management representative to council, gave an impassioned speech calling for students to show the administration that they should be allowed to use the “McGill” name in the titles of clubs and services. The motion resolved SSMU refer to itself as the “Students’ Society of The Educational Institute Roughly Bounded by Peel, Penfield, University, Sherbrooke, and Mac Campus,” or by the acronym “SSTEIRBBPPUSAMC.”

“This is a huge joke, it’s ridiculous, it’s absurd. But it’s a joke with a very serious punch line,” Freedman said at the GA. “That serious punch line is the administration’s liability concerns.”

The motion, which expires at the end of the semester, will not force SSMU to make changes that would incur any costs, such as redesigning the logo.

The motion mandating SSMU to hold a bake sale to raise money for the AUS, which has recently suffered large financial losses, also passed, but was amended so that the money raised be donated to a not-for-profit organization of the AUS’ choosing instead of the AUS.

The gender parity motion, which proposed to do away with the alternating male, non-male speaking order at GAs and council, was passed near the end of the night with little debate or discussion. Some expressed concern that a question with so many implications didn’t receive more student consideration.

“I was surprised that the discussion on gender parity was not more thoughtful,” said SSMU President Zach Newburgh. “This is a very important issue.”

Arts Senator Amara Possian agreed.

“What I was watching in there was a bunch of white males drowning out a bunch of other people’s voices and abolishing gender parity with absolutely no debate on an issue that has implications for equity, implications for people feeling safe on this campus,” she said. “It’s not so much the fact that it passed that bothered me, it’s the way that it happened.”

But William Farrell, the resolution’s mover, said that if students at the GA had had serious objections to the motion, they would not have passed it so quickly.

“I guess maybe that just goes to show how many people realize … that [gender parity]’s pretty silly in perspective,” he said.

The resolution regarding Gert’s renovations, which would have included a “stripper pole” in the upcoming Gert’s renovations and made every Thursday night “Amateur Night” at the bar, was ruled out of order earlier in the week. The motion, Speaker of Council Raymond Xing said, violated article six of SSMU’s constitution, which mandate that SSMU protect “human dignity and bodily sovereignty.”

SSMU VP Finance and Operations Nick Drew added that there were other concerns with adopting such a motion.

“[A stripper pole] is simply a dangerous thing to have in the bar. The last thing we want is to have a drunk student try their hand at pole dancing and then injuring themselves,” he said. “I’ve seen enough YouTube videos of sober people falling flat on their face.”

Another major concern was the fact that the assembly had a difficult time maintaining the 100-student quorum. This led some students to question what had been done to promote the event and whether the GA was a valuable legislative process.

Students, Newburgh said, attend the GA when they’re interested in the motions on the agenda.

“It has been shown in the last number of years that [the GA] has taken a lot of time from the executives to plan and execute, and perhaps instead of using [that] time and the effort and the resources that SSMU has to put toward a legislative body that only every off-time gets quorum,” he said.

Others, however, were more blunt.

“[The GA is] a joke, right?” Cyril said. “I think it should be abolished.”

Council puts off Arts & Science rep. decision

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The Students’ Society Council defeated a proposed referendum question at their meeting on Thursday that would have asked students to establish an Arts and Sciences representative on Council.

The issue was later revisited by SSMU President Zach Newburgh allowing the question to be reconsidered as a plebiscite, a consultative instrument that provides non-binding results.

The motion was proposed by Science Representatives Shen Chen and Lauren Hudak, Arts Representative Zach Margolis, and Clubs and Services Representative Maggie Knight, all of whom are Arts and Science students.

“Arts and Science has been around for five years now and the constitution at SSMU has not changed since the program started,” Margolis said. “A lot of other faculties and schools all have seats on SSMU. It just seems like the right thing to do.”

The inter-faculty Arts and Science program has approximately 580 students. It is part of both the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Science, but it faces unique academic limitations and specific course requirements.

“It’s harder for [Arts or Science councillors] to represent the needs that we have when they don’t understand the course requirements and the different course restraints that we have,” said Hudak.

Councillors who opposed the referendum question cited lack of consultation and claimed that the reasons given were not valid. Ultimately, they concluded that the question was not ready for the student body.

“We questioned if adequate research was done on the question, if alternatives were considered,” said Eli Freedman, Management representative to Council. “We thought that problem should be worked out before we consider a Council position for them.”

The Arts and Science Integrative Council conducted a survey to determine if the position in council was supported by students in the program. According to Arts Representative Todd Plummer, the results of the survey did not show an actual need for representation on Council but rather that Arts and Science students do not know who their representatives are.

“They have this assumption that an Arts and Science student is not free to come to me if they want to bring a motion to SSMU Council and that’s not the case,” said Plummer.

An additional concern that arose at Council was the fact that currently Arts and Science students are eligible to run for both Arts and Science representative. It is now unclear what would happen if a special position was designated for an Arts and Science representative and whether or not they would still be eligible to be Arts or Science representatives.

“Each faculty decides in their own way who can run for their [representatives], and once this motion is passed, I fully expect different faculty associations to change their policy.”

Hudak and Margolis explained that the defeat of the proposed referendum question at Council was completely unexpected. They hope to alleviate concerns by bringing forward resolutions at both Arts  and Science Undergraduate Society Councils.

“Maybe we should have been more clear in terms of what we were trying to say. They might have taken it as if representatives of the Faculty of Arts or Science weren’t doing a good job and that is not our intention at all,” Hudak said.

Knight, one of the councillors who proposed the question, stressed that the interfaculty program has a  uniquely interdisciplinary perspective, which requires that they have their own council representative .

“It’s just basically updating the SSMU constitution to effectively address this inter-faculty degree,” she said.

According to the councillors who proposed the questions, the  completely different atmosphere among the Arts and the Sciences  makes it difficult for them to represent their respective constituencies. However, these reasons were not enough to convince the rest of council to have a referendum question.

“No one has been able to give me a single good reason as to why Arts and Science  students need a representative on SSMU council,” said Plummer. “The problems that they have addressed are academic problems which are more in the view of faculty associations.”

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