McGill, News

AUS Legislative Council demands new space for Bar des Arts

The Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) Legislative Council met on Feb. 12 to discuss finding a new permanent space for the Bar des Arts (BdA) and to consider banning blood drives that discriminate against 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals on campus.

A presentation from co-chairs of the BdA Mercedes Labelle and Ethan Casey highlighted the lack of attention paid by university administrators toward student issues.

“[BdA is] a meeting place for a diverse community of students,” Labelle said. “The bar has become a platform for student clubs and services to promote their organisations to the student body [….] It seems that the McGill administration does not understand the scope of the community we foster.” 

The motion to request a new permanent space for BdA passed, and had previously been circulated online in the form of an open letter that students could sign.

Next, a presentation from Climate Justice Action McGill (C-JAM) requested that department representatives and the AUS work together to organize a general assembly (GA) in order to vote for another climate strike to take place April 1-3. 

“We don’t want to have it be [AUS] councillors calling a [general assembly],” C-JAM co-organiser Mo Rajji said. “We want [department representatives] to go out into the world with packets of petitions. We have the motion attached that we’ve presented and you can have people in your departments sign them.”

Arts Representative to the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Shreya Dandamudi and AUS Vice-President (VP) Services Haidee Pangilinan inquired about the nature of the strike and picket lines. 

“[We are pushing for ways of] forcing classrooms to shut down without creating physical barriers, because that [can often] result in some unpleasantness,” C-JAM co-organizer Noah Fischer clarified. 

The legislative council then moved on to discuss a motion put forward by History Students Association (HSA) VP External Dalton Liggett to condemn blood drives that discriminate against 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals while operating on McGill’s campus. This first motion was accompanied by another, requesting that it be put forward by Arts Representatives at SSMU Legislative Council. Liggett explained how Canadian Blood Services discriminates against certain groups.

“The current policy […] of both [Canadian Blood Services] and Héma-Québec is to not allow any blood donations from any men who […] are deemed as having sex with other men,” Liggett said. “[The policy] is also to actively misgender trans women as men for the purposes of blood donation.”

The council debated the possibility that this motion may be seen as discouraging blood donations. Several councillors pointed to the possibility that putting pressure on policy makers would ultimately allow more individuals to donate blood in the future, and the motion passed. 

“We are allowing a volunteer blood service, which can be a fantastic thing, to target students at McGill and [exclude them from donating],” Political Science Student Association (PSSA) VP External Cate Steblaj said. “[Discriminatory actions include] intentionally misgendering trans women. I think that the impacts go a lot further than just having a simple blood drive [….] We need to be able to protect those who enter these spaces and receive harm, especially when trying to do good for the community.”

The AUS legislative council will reconvene on Feb. 27 in Leacock 232. 

Moment of the Meeting:

After approval from the chair, AUS VP Services Haidee Pangilinan called a motion to ask the Society of Math Undergraduate Students VP External Alyzeh Jiwani to be her date to the AUS-SUS Graduation Ball, all while “Love Story” by Taylor Swift played from a Bluetooth speaker. 

Sound Bite:

“I have a blood condition […] that could potentially, at any moment, require a blood transfusion. I’m also an openly gay man, so I am very torn by this resolution as we stand here today, because I know that at any given time I might need a blood transfusion. I’m also very aware of the harmful exclusionary policies perpetrated by [Canadian Blood Services] and Héma Québec [….] I would [urge] everyone to consider that these discriminatory practices are bad, but that there is also a blood donation crisis in North America.” – Canadian Studies Association of Undergraduate Students VP External Brent Jamsa on the motion put forward by HSA VP External Dalton Liggett.

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