On Oct. 18, the Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS) Council met for the fourth time this semester, where they voted to join the Coalition Régionale de Montréal (CREM), a student advocacy group with more than 260,000 student members from universities across Montreal. The new Chief Returning Officer (CRO) for the Secretary-General by-elections Andréanne St-Gelais also detailed the steps of the electoral process, and Equity Commissioner Emil Briones reported on PGSS’s involvement in actions against sexual violence. Other notable announcements included Lorna MacEachern’s presentation on the myPath Individual Development Plan, Patrick Visintini’s discussion of the Legal Information Clinic’s services, and Krista Houser’s introduction to the McGill Office of Sustainability.
Legislative Council votes to join the Coalition régionale étudiante de Montréal
External Affairs Officer Hocine Slimani put forth a motion for PGSS to join CREM. The nonprofit was formed in 2017 at the beginning of the municipal electoral campaign, and aims to support student needs at the metropolitan level by bringing their demands to the attention of political parties and candidates in the upcoming municipal election.
“The PGSS would like to formally assist and participate in [CREM’s] meetings,” Slimani said. “The executive committee already referred it, so they’re inclined to go for it.”
The majority of CREM’s demands focus on Montreal’s public transport system, with five of eight of their goals relating to the expansion of the public transit system and student discounts. The group also strives to raise awareness of students’ struggles to find affordable housing and of the lack of youth representation in the city’s governing bodies.
The motion to join CREM passed with one vote against and four abstentions.
By-election for Secretary-General announcement
Following former PGSS secretary-general Jacob Lavigne’s resignation on Oct. 2, CRO St-Gelais announced the details of the upcoming by-election for his replacement.
The call for candidate nominations is open until Oct. 27, with nomination forms available on the PGSS website. The mandatory candidates’ meeting will take place on Oct. 26 at 6 p.m. at Thomson House, and the CRO will release the meeting’s location via email prior to it.
“We’re waiting to see if there’s going to be people interested who nominate themselves,” St-Gelais said. “[At the] information session for candidates, […] we’ll know how many people are interested.”
Campaigning will take place from Oct. 28 to Nov. 4, culminating in elections from Nov. 5 to 11. The new Secretary-General’s term will begin on Nov. 12.
Equity Commissioner reports on McGill’s Policy against Sexual Violence
Equity Commissioner Emil Briones updated council on PGSS’s current research into sexual violence on campus. Briones gave notice of the appointment of Sara Mahboob (LLM ‘08), a doctoral candidate at McGill’s Faculty of Law, to the Ad-Hoc panel to conduct a campus study of sexual violence. Following concerns that Briones’ seat on the panel constituted a conflict of interest, Mahboob was nominated to take his place as an observer of the panel’s activities.
“There was a concern brought up two council meetings ago that I sat on the […] panel […] and that the chair of that committee [Dr. Shaheen Shariff] is one of my graduate supervisors,” Briones said. “I found someone who had the time to sit on that committee as a delegate instead of myself [….] Her scholarship very much speaks to the context of this work so that’s pretty exciting.”
The Equity Commissioner asked that PGSS Council attendees fill out Dr. Shaheen Shariff’s survey on student experiences with sexual violences and with McGill’s Policy against Sexual Violence. The data coming out of the resource project will serve to inform the development of PGSS’s sexual violence policy.
Briones and Member Services Officer JennyAnn Pura have also secured an observer seat for PGSS on the implementation committee of the sexual violence policy. As an aside, Briones also expressed his support for all those triggered by the current social media activity around sexual violence and harassment, such as the #MeToo movement and references to sexual violence stemming from the Harvey Weinstein scandal. He reminded students that the McGill campus has resources for them and that part of his role as Equity Commissioner is to help direct those in need to these services.
“If you know anyone who is emotionally triggered or going through a hard time there are resources on campus here for that,” Briones said. “I certainly can be supportive in that way. If there are students coming to you with these kinds of concerns please know that my […] door is never closed to people.”