The winter 2011 General Assembly took place last Thursday in a quarter-full Adams Auditorium. Although quorum was reached at several parts of the GA, only two out of four motions debated successfully passed with quorum. Despite efforts made in the previous weeks this semester’s general assembly was sparsely attended.
“It was the same as all GAs in the past,” said Students’ Society President Zach Newburgh.
“There was quite a lot of advertising from the part of various individuals and groups and we got a standard turnout based on the motions that were submitted.”
A motion regarding the amendment of the SSMU bylaws to include its investments in corporate shares and government bonds was one of two that passed with quorum. A resolution in which SSMU which mandated SSMU to determine whether or not bikes are a viable asset on campus also passed.
According to Newburgh, the bylaw regarding investment is a required step in order for a corporation to invest or have shares. “That’s implemented and we are already taking care of that,” he said.
A motion to mandate SSMU to investigate the safety of biking on campus passed. Newburgh explained that he and SSMU Vice-President University Affairs Joshua Abaki will be working together to determine how this will be approached.
A motion to oppose SSMU’s hiring McKinsey and Co. as a consulting firm did not pass with quorum. But according to GA speaker Cathal Rooney-Cespedes it was the resolution that incited the most debate before the GA.
“A lot of people who came out to vote for it were the ones who felt passionate about it,” Rooney-Cespedes said.
“If the entire student body was given the chance to vote on something like that, there wouldn’t have been a large majority of people for it.”
Rooney-Cespedes explained that the opposition to McGill hiring McKinsey was mainly due to what the motion described as the firm’s record of consulting educational institutions from a purely economic perspective, often proposing to lower salaries and increase tuition.
A motion to condemn the McGill administration’s tight control over the use of its name by services, and independent study groups of the Student’s Society was the second one unable to pass with quorum.
“I think a lot of people believe in the motion and think that it is something that we definitely should fight for,” said SSMU VP Clubs and Services Anushay Khan.
These motions will be presented at SSMU Council for approval on Thursday.
“Ultimately, these are recommendations from a consultative body, and I plan to take them into consideration in our future business, regarding both of these motions,” Newburgh said.
A fifth motion called on SSMU to hire a consulting firm to investigate SSMU’s business practices and efficiency. It was ruled out of order because financial decisions on behalf of SSMU cannot be made at a General Assembly.
“It is always disappointing that the GA doesn’t hit quorum,” Rooney-Cespedes said. “When you are making such large decisions, the fact that it’s less than a hundred students making that decision on behalf of the student body is a bit disproportionate to what people always thought of as democracy.”
At one point in the GA, a member of the audience called out the speaker for addressing the audience in an impolite manner. But Rooney-Cespedes claimed that his obligation was to make sure the event took place within the rules.
“When you are in any general assembly, the best way to go about it is to be as strict as possible with the rules of procedure or else you’ll have total anarchy.”