The Science Undergraduate Society (SUS) of McGill convened on Feb. 17 for their Winter 2021 General Assembly (GA). Despite the attendance of all executives and departmental representatives, the meeting failed to meet the required quorum of 100 students from four different departments. Without quorum, the GA proceeded as a consultative forum.
Much of the evening’s discussion revolved around adapting to remote learning. With campus life on pause, executives expressed their frustrations in trying to provide meaningful services to their constituents. McGill Anatomy and Cell Biology Students’ Society (MACSS) Vice-President (VP) External Rahul Thareja highlighted the unexpected obstacles departments faced since remote learning began, including barriers to fulfilling clothing orders from the previous academic year.
“We were finally able to access [the] Strathcona [Building] and finally sent out our clothing orders from Winter 2020 because they were locked inside, and we couldn’t get to them,” Thareja said.
Despite these logistical setbacks, department executives reported to the council that virtual engagements with the science community have been largely successful. Further, the SUS GA moved to implement a series of motions that would improve the quality of their in-person services for coming semesters. The renewal of the Computer Task Force (CTF) fee and the Science Student Space Improvement (SCSS) fund both passed unanimously. Although both of these funds have been underused this academic year, SUS VP Finance Rohan Bhutkar emphasized the SCSS’s services and urged executives to use them to their advantage.
“[SCSS] is a fund you all know and love,” Bhutkar said. “This is what gets you new couches and replaces [old ones]. Please apply to this fund if you have any ideas on how to use this money during COVID times, which I haven’t come up with [yet], but if you have any, let me know.”
Although COVID-19 has curbed the usual flow of students in the Burnside basement, it has not stopped the onset of student government elections. With SUS general election campaigns beginning March 1, SUS President Sydney Merritt moved to amend the SUS electoral bylaws. Previously, the SUS electoral bylaws explicitly stated that the only online platform to be used for campaigning was Facebook. Merritt noted that this bylaw was outdated and especially restrictive during the remote semester.
“In non-remote years […] you could promote your candidacy in front of classrooms on blackboards, or even in lectures,” Merritt said. “With the complete transition to the online platform, I find that the Facebook limitation makes it inaccessible to all members of the science community. Some people don’t use Facebook, but instead use Discord and other types of platforms.”
Moment of the meeting:
To add levity to an otherwise taxing virtual conference, the SUS General Council has been instituting a theme for each biweekly meeting. This week’s theme was lab coats; many executives donned customized lab coats and safety goggles. At the end of the general assembly, Arts & Science Undergraduate Society VP External Ethan Mendell proposed the next meeting’s theme: Pyjamas and hot chocolate.
“We have officially implemented electronic fund transfers, which means no more cheques. If you’re ever requiring money, yes, it can be direct-deposited into your account. So one more step towards sustainability and no more paper.”
—SUS VP Finance Bhutkar on eliminating cheque transfer as part of SUS’ environmental initiative