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Fall 2016 SSMU Referendum Endorsements

Editorial/Opinion by

The Motion Regarding Free Menstrual Hygiene Products Fee and Health and Hygiene Products Fund: “Yes”

As the Tribune has previously argued, the Free Menstrual Hygiene Products Fee would provide significant benefits to all McGill students. By helping to promote equal access to education, the motion effectively benefits all members of the McGill community by helping to create a university where everyone is fully engaged in their learning. It will alleviate the financial cost, as well as the stress that is associated with procuring menstrual products. A previous draft of this motion elaborated on the advocacy potential of the policy; this should not be forgotten. This motion will help reduce the stigma surrounding menstruation, and may push other universities or institutions to adopt similar policies. The policy implicitly acknowledges the role of menstruation as a historical and current barrier to women’s education. SSMU should seek to clarify where the products will be provided across campus.

The Motion Regarding the Creation of a Musicians’ Collective Fee: “Yes”

The Musicians’ Collective provides students, especially those who play music but are not within the Faculty of Music, with essential resources. Through services like educational workshops, practice room booking, performance opportunities, and instrument and equipment rental, the Musicians’ Collective allows any student to connect to a music community. Furthermore, the costs of owning an instrument and any additional equipment can be very expensive; the Collective’s resources help to alleviate these costs. Voting for the creation of this fee supports and enriches the arts community at McGill. This 10 cent fee is opt-outable, which means that students who do not use the Collective’s services do not have the pay for them. As the Musicians’ Collective is a SSMU student service, one issue may be the precedent that the creation of this fee may set. The creation of this fee indicates that students could be asked to pay for services that should come out of the SSMU budget. 

The Motion Regarding the Midnight Kitchen Fee Renewal: “Yes”

Midnight Kitchen is a non-profit, volunteer-run collective that provides free, vegan lunch and breakfast meals on campus. In terms of its accessibility, diet-sensitivity, and sustainability, it provides an important service to members of the McGill community. The fee renewal includes a 10 cent increase from the current fee of $3.25, which is justified given Midnight Kitchen’s growth in popularity. Given the cost of meals and limited dietary options at other food vendors on campus, a free or by-donation meal service for a fee of $3.35 per semester is invaluable to many. In promoting healthy, diet-sensitive food options—catering especially to vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free students—Midnight Kitchen promotes food accessibility and healthy eating, both of which are essential to education. Furthermore, Midnight Kitchen promotes sustainable food practices in that it composts, uses ingredients received by donation, and patrons must bring their own reusable dishes.

The Motion Regarding the Midnight Kitchen Discretionary Projects: “Yes”

Midnight Kitchen was founded as a free food service with a political anti-oppression mandate to oppose processes of profit-driven food corporatization and privatization that hinder food accessibility and sustainability. It deserves the right to operate on these terms and pursue causes in line with its mandate. Although the separation of this question into two parts allows students to support the continued existence of Midnight Kitchen as a food service without supporting its political purposes and discretionary projects, students should not endorse one without the other. Midnight Kitchen provides a service that students benefit from; if they choose to make use of it, they must recognize its mandate and its right to pursue it. The portioning off of this 10 per cent of its fee budget will not significantly diminish Midnight Kitchen’s ability to serve meals. 

That being said, the language of this question is vague. There is no definition of what this funding entails, who will receive it, and whether it is in the form of money, food, or other support. The motion should have included more details regarding its mandate as well as examples of how this 10 per cent has been and would be used. Over the remainder of the campaign period, Midnight Kitchen should clarify how it will use this 10 per cent of its student fee budget and provide examples of the projects, initiatives, and events it plans to fund or has funded in the past. 

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