The Nov. 6 Post Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS) meeting in the Thomson House Ballroom initially met its 90-member quorum. However, several members left the meeting later in the evening, and all votes lost their binding status.
Following some standard announcements, the motions to approve the PGSS opposition on Bill 21 and to ratify their new financial auditor’s terms of engagement passed with little commotion.
The pace of the meeting pace slowed by the time it reached the later parts of the agenda, as many members opposed a motion to ratify the Society Activities Manual. Frustrated with failures to meet quorum at council meetings, PGSS executives proposed shrinking the size of council decreasing amounts of funding for post-graduate student associations (PGSAs) that did not attend. Melissa Marquette, student in Earth and Planetary Sciences, did not appreciate the manner in which the executive proposed this change.
“It doesn’t seem like alternative avenues to increase participation [have] been explored,” Marquette said. “And it seems like cutting funding should be a last, last, last, last resort. […] I think it is horrific to say something like ‘I don’t want to withhold these funds, but you might make me do it if you don’t come to council.’ That’s disgusting and I do not want that to be uttered in a body that is supposed to represent me.”
Secretary General Dakota Rogers defended the proposal.
“Reducing the size of council does increase accountability,” Rogers said. “We know it does because we [have] 32 of our PGSAs show up today [which is] the most that we’ve ever seen show up at a PGSS Council [meeting]. We rely on our counsel to do our jobs. If we do not [meet] quorum, we cannot do our jobs.”
Ultimately, the motion failed 32-29.
As the meeting moved on, the executive paused the discussion and counted the members in the room. Eight people had left the meeting, meaning that quorum had been lost, and thus, the meeting became a non-binding consultative session. Members tried desperately to reclaim quorum in order to officially pass the motion to declare a one-day PGSS climate strike.
However, after two recounts, quorum could not be re-achieved. PGSS executives discussed health insurance plans, as well as a policy to hold a moratorium on fee increases until McGill divests from fossil fuels.
Moment of the meeting
In an impassioned speech, Rine Vieth, Anthropology PhD candidate, urged the PGSS executive to show better strength in pushing back against the administration on mental health policies, such as the one on involuntary leave.
“It sounds like you’re saying, you want to pay people to be your friends and, like, if people don’t want to be your friends, and people don’t want to show up to the meetings [then] maybe you need to think about what you’re doing and [start] thinking about other ways of engaging with people.” – Vieth on the proposed Society Activities Manual changes