McGill, News

Arts students vote in new executives, strike down motion to raise AUS fees

Undergraduate students in the Faculty of Arts, the university’s largest of 11, voted in next year’s Arts Undergraduate Society of McGill University (AUS) executives and representatives in a ballot that ran from Feb. 20 to 24. A referendum also took place during the same period, where students decided to continue funding the McGill Journal of Human Behaviour (MJHB) but struck down a proposed AUS fee increase.

According to AUS, 1,102 people—13.1 per cent of the electorate—voted in the 2023-2024 elections. Those who did vote decided that Matthew O’Boyle, who is currently an Arts representative to the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU), will be the next AUS President. 

“Working between SSMU and AUS this year, I’ve developed a pretty good understanding of what powers each institution holds and how these powers can be enacted to serve the interests of students,” O’Boyle wrote by email to The McGill Tribune. “I look forward to overseeing the various portfolios of the AUS and offer my institutional knowledge to help get things done efficiently and effectively. I worked under both Adin Chan and Ghania Javed, the AUS presidents these past two years, and […] I learned a lot from both of them and am eager to carry this knowledge forward in my new role.”

Julia Widing was elected as the vice-president (VP) Finance, Suzanne Levandier as VP Internal, Sophia Weiqi Li as VP External, Lauren Hicken as VP Communications, Sarah Jiang as VP Social, and Nick Rieck as VP Academic.

Three Arts representatives to SSMU, who will sit on the SSMU Legislative Council, were elected: Keith Baybayon, Quinn Porter, and Aishwarya Rajan. Two Arts Senators, who will represent students in the faculty at the McGill Senate, the university’s highest democratic governing body, were also elected: Sophia Garofalo and Juliet Morrison*.

In addition to elections, Arts students voted on two referendum questions. According to AUS, 877 students—or 10.4 per cent of the electorate—participated in the Winter 2023 referendum.

A question regarding raising the AUS fee from $16.50 to $17.50 for full-time Bachelor of Arts (BA) students, and from $8.25 to $8.75 for part-time BA students failed, with 60.9 per cent of students voting against it. Current AUS President Javed found it “a bit disappointing” that the fee increase did not pass, explaining that the additional funds would have gone toward higher wages for AUS employees.

“The most important reason behind the fee change, or fee increase, was because of the minimum wage increase,” Javed explained in an interview with the Tribune. “So it went from $13.[50] last year to $14.25 this year. That’s what we’re operating with, and it’s going to change again in May to $15.25 [….] The fee has not been increased for years.”  

“So the meaning of this fee increase was so we could pay our staff adequately. We do have a lot of stipend and hourly wage staff […], a lot of them work anywhere from 10 to 20 hours a week.”

The MJHB fee, which was also up for a vote, was approved with 59.1 per cent of voters in favour. The student-run Journal publishes a wide array of “exemplary” work by Arts students twice a year.

“Our goal is to foster conversations that transcend disciplinary boundaries to better understand why we act the way we do,” MJHB Editor-in-Chief Sophie Cleff wrote in an email to the Tribune. “The implementation of the MJHB fee as decided by the AUS referendum will not only allow us to continue running our publication, research fellowship, and speaker series, but also expand our operations with even more ambitious projects.”

*Morrison is currently a News Editor at the Tribune and was not involved in the publication of this article.

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