The McGill Tribune’s editorial board provides its endorsements for the Fall 2019 Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) referendum period.
Creation of Indigenous Equity Fund and Fee: Yes
The proposed creation of this non-opt-outable $1.00 fee would serve three purposes: Funding the activities of the SSMU Indigenous Affairs Committee, financing projects led by Indigenous or equity-seeking student groups, and providing a source of financial support for Indigenous undergraduates at McGill. The Tribune endorses the creation of this long-overdue fund and fee. The fund would support Indigenous students and grant them the fiscal autonomy needed to address their needs and concerns. Given the lack of substantial institutional support that exists for Indigenous students on campus, and the relative bureaucratic silence from McGill after the 2017 Provost’s Task Force on Indigenous studies and Indigenous Education, this fund is a step in the right direction.
Creation of SSMU Student Academic Support Services and Fee Levy: Yes
The proposed $0.93 opt-outable fee will go toward an office that integrates and expands Open Educational Resources, SSMU Tutoring, and MiniCourses. The fee will also go toward the creation of paid note-taker positions and affordable preparatory courses. The Tribune endorses the fee, as access to open education is necessary. However, it is imperative that students consider the need for the university administration to fund the compensation of note-takers, in the way the Office for Students with Disabilities no longer does, as it is not sustainable for students to fill gaps in student resources.
Increase and Nature of SSMU Equity Fee: Yes
The proposed $0.50 increase to the SSMU Equity Fee is reasonable and financially necessary given the Equity Fund’s $5,000 deficit. One of the Equity Fund’s main purposes is to fund the salaries of SSMU’s Equity Commissioners, who oversee discrimination complaints within SSMU. Because students who choose to opt-out of the Equity Fee cannot be denied access to this process for ethical and practical reasons, making the fee mandatory is a sensible decision.
Club Fund Fee Increase: No
Vice-President (VP) Student Life Billy Kawasaki leads the campaign to increase the SSMU Club Fund Fee from $2.75 to $7.75, which he says will enable the creation of an online platform for SSMU club communication and go toward funding an improved insurance plan for events. While it is admirable that SSMU executives are working toward improving their relationship with clubs and services, Kawasaki’s campaign has not clearly demonstrated how spending $20,000 per year on an online portal and updated insurance will provide club executives with the support they need. As such, the Tribune believes that the 280-per cent fee increase is not justified.
Discretionary Funding for DriveSafe: Yes
SSMU’s free DriveSafe service drives students home safely anywhere on the Island of Montreal on Thursday–Saturday nights. It is funded by a non–opt–outable Safety Service Fee of $3.97, of which $0.60 goes toward DriveSafe. Currently, all of the 280 vehicles rented each school year by the service use gasoline. The motion regarding discretionary funding suggests that, by 2030, DriveSafe will only use electric vehicles. The Tribune endorses voting ‘yes’ to support the first steps towards offsetting the 9.8 tonnes of greenhouse gases released by this service each year.