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(Alex Gardiner / The McGill Tribune)

SUS debates improving its General Council

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The Science Undergraduate Society (SUS) General Council (GC) convened for its first meeting of the year on Jan. 17, giving the Vice-Presidents (VP) External of the various science departments an opportunity to meet with the SUS executives. Topics discussed at the meeting included the role of the GC, upcoming social events, the 2018-2019 SUS election dates.

 

Deliberation about the role of SUS Council

Early in the meeting, VP Internal Soud Kharusi put forth a motion to hold a discussion on the GC’s function and purpose. Typically, GC is a forum for departments to update one another on their activities, but Kharusi wanted to brainstorm how to maximize its effectiveness.

“We wanted to see if there were ideas that anyone else had in here of things we could do differently that would make it better for you and for us to be here, and how can we make it more productive,” Kharusi said.

Councillors debated using the GC as a platform for interdepartmental event planning. The majority of speakers in favour, but some expressing reservations.

“I think that part of the idea is that we can do that on our own, in our own departments,” VP External for the McGill Society of Physics Students Liam Halloran said. “We’re using the SUS [for] doing larger scale things, but [the departmental VP externals are] just the liaison.”

President Jasmine Leung then suggested expanding the membership of GC beyond the VP Externals of the departmental councils, which would allow them to share their responsibilities with the other members on their respective councils. However, several executives were concerned that departmental associations would not approve of mandatory attendance at the GC.

Many councillors also expressed their confusion over the appropriate use of Robert’s Rules—the rules governing the procedure of all Council meetings—and cited them as a substantial barrier to open communication.

“I also think that motions or the way we do things […are] a little intimidating,” Physiology Undergraduate League of Students VP External Marissa Aycan said. “If you have a small idea or sort of like the beginnings of an idea that you’d want to maybe bring up […] until it’s more developed I feel like it’s difficult to bring it up at GC […] just because of how motions seem to have worked in the past.”

After a brief debate, Council agreed to allow the Speaker to relax Robert’s Rules at their discretion for all subsequent GCs.

 

Councillors discuss upcoming events and activities

Leung started with a reminder of the upcoming gala to celebrate the 24th anniversary of the SUS. The event will take place on Feb. 9 with Leung expecting tickets to cost around $20.

VP Academic Ellie Joung announced that SUS will hold Academia Week—a weeklong series of events educating students about contemporary issues in science and research—from Feb. 5 to 9. The event will feature speakers, lab tours, and science-oriented activities such as an MCAT challenge.

Kharusi also presented upcoming events within his portfolio. SUS intends to organize a ski trip on Feb. 17 with $40 tickets, a dodgeball tournament on Feb. 3, and a St.-Patrick’s day apartment crawl.

Next, SUS VP External Michelle Guo announced the release of the SUS survey on mental health. The SUS initially released the survey in October, but took it down shortly after in order for Dean of the Faculty of Science Bruce Lennox to review and approve it, as per McGill’s Survey Policy. However, according to Guo, the SUS will unilaterally resume the survey due to delays in the faculty approval process.

“The main goal for this survey is that we’re just going to collect data on student status quo,” Guo said. “We’re only using the data to make future advance within the SUS Mental Health Committee, so [the survey is] just for [the SUS’] use.”

Finally, Science Senator Salma Youssef updated members on McGill Senate activities, highlighting its new initiative to encourage teachers to use accessible education resources.

“We want to try to get professors to adopt free textbooks for students rather than having [students] pay […] or students ending up not buying textbooks just because they can’t afford to and jeopardizing their grades in class,” Youssef said.

Motion for SUS election

Council brought forth a Motion to Approve 2018-2019 SUS Election Dates, which passed. The nomination period will take place from Feb. 3 to Feb. 14, with polling dates set for Feb. 20 to Feb. 23.

The SUS Council will meet next on Jan. 31.

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