The Science Undergraduate Society (SUS) addressed the possibility of Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) joining a provincial student union at its Feb. 3 Council meeting and the depletion of its Special Projects Fund (SPF). Council also heard updates on the renovations in the Environmental Science building.
SSMU representative Sean Taylor gave a presentation explaining the governing structures of the two student federations that SSMU could possibly join next year: The Association for the Voice of Education in Quebec (AVÉQ) and the Union Étudiante du Quebec (UÉQ). The two federations largely differ in regard to the method of representation of student unions in the province, as well as their membership fees.
“[The UÉQ] has a dual government structure, so part of it is that each school has one representative, but at the same time […] they pass a second vote which looks more at the 40 per cent of the schools supporting it,” Taylor said. “It gives a […] proportional representation, whereas the AVÉQ is one representative, one vote per student union or student association, such as SSMU.”
UÉQ’s fee is $4.50 per student per semester, and the AVÉQ’s would be of $3.50 per student per semester.
Science Senator Marina Smailes mentioned a potential sovereignty violation against SSMU on the part of UÉQ.
“I was contacted before [the] last council meeting, not [by] a direct coordinator of the [UÉQ] but by someone who knew them, and they were telling me about all of these different allegations […] against the [SSMU Vice-President] (VP) External, that [there] wasn’t fair representation of both AVÉQ and UÉQ,” Smailes said. “Technically, […] if SSMU takes a stance on something, another school, like let’s say [Université de Montréal …] can’t come to McGill and campaign on behalf of the student federation […] because we have already decided that we’re actually not going to campaign for that […] and so, by contacting me on their own […] they were directly overstepping sovereignty bounds.”
According to Smailes, the Fédération Étudiante de l’Université Sherbrooke (FÉUS) also released a report accusing SSMU of favouritism towards AVÉQ, but Smailes did not have a copy of this document at Council.
Council ultimately voted for SSMU to join UÉQ. They then voted on whether SSMU should join a student federation at all. This question received five votes in favour and six votes against, with the rest of the council abstaining.
McGill Environmental Science Students (MESS) representative Mackenzie Webber explained in her report the preparations for renovations in the basement of the McGill School of Environment building and providing better study areas for students.
“It’s really coming along great,” Webber said. “We have a lot of furniture coming in, we have renovations going underway for a little window seat bench and a nice mural […] and also we’re going to have an espresso machine come in and have some volunteers running it.”
Special Projects Fund
Vice-President (VP) Finance Sibat Anam addressed the unusual decrease in the SPF this year.
“For the first time in three or four years it is actually depleting quite fast,” Anam said. “There’s only about five to six thousand dollars left, so I would really suggest […] if you rely on submitting applications for the Special Projects Fund, to do so quickly.”
Anam added that he would try to continue accepting applications for future events despite the fund’s budget being low.
“I am trying my best to see if I can […] approve as many applications as possible with the committee, but we are a bit constrained,” he said.
This article was corrected on Feb. 7. The Tribune regrets these errors.