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Review of Winter 2016 SSMU referendum motions

The Motion Regarding the Bicycle Facility Plebiscite Question

This plebiscite question has been proposed in order to address the lack of bicycle parking on campus and aims to create a secure bicycle parking facility. The facility will be located in the basement of the Shatner Building with the partnership of the University.

“This secure bicycle parking and access to shower and locker facilities would be available to students and McGill community members with the purchase of a per-semester membership, much like the McGill Fitness Centre,” reads the motion.

If this question passes, the construction of the facility will be explored by the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU).


The Motion Regarding the Creation of a Club Fund Fee

This motion proposes a fee to finance the SSMU Club Fund.

“The creation of a dedicated fee to fund the Club Fund would ensure a secure source of [financial support] to student groups and would double the available funding for clubs to foster student life on campus,” the motion reads.

The Club Fund currently supports over 240 clubs and is allocated approximately $25,000 per semester, according to the motion. The proposed motion would create a question on the Winter 2016 referendum that proposes an opt-outable fee of $2.75 per student per semester in order to come closer to the $117,369.48 that was requested by clubs in the Fall 2015 semester.


The Motion Regarding the Creation of a Mental Health Fee

If approved, this motion creates an opt-outable $0.40 per student per semester fee for mental health services.

“Mental health is a major concern requiring urgent action on university campuses across North America, with one in five McGill students using mental health services each year,” the motion reads.

Funding from this fee will specifically support student-run mental health initiatives, student staffing to manage the mental health initiatives, and advocate for better services provided by the university. A portion of the fee will also go directly to the Mental Health Fund which is run by SSMU and distributed by the Funding Committee.


The Motion Regarding the Increase of the SSMU Health Plan Fee for the Addition of Mental Health Coverage

This motion seeks to propose an $25 increase in the cost of the SSMU Health Plan Fee. The SSMU Health Plan does not currently cover any psychology or psychotherapy services, and this fee increase will give students covered by the SSMU Health Plan up to $500 worth of psychology coverage.

“Mental health issues on campus require further support than what is currently available from the University, with 89 [per cent] of students reporting feeling overwhelmed in the last year, with 38 [per cent] of students reporting feeling so depressed that it was difficult to function, 53 [per cent] reporting feeling overwhelming anxiety, and finally 7 [per cent] of undergraduates seriously considering suicide while at McGill,” the motion reads.

This motion also points out that students often experience long waiting periods to be seen by McGill Mental Health Service and that undergraduate students ranked “supporting student health and well-being” as their first priority in a recent 2014-2015 Student Experience Survey.


The Motion Regarding the Renewal of the SSMU Access Bursary Fee

This motion is a renewal of an opt-outable Access Bursary Fee of $8.50 per semester for full-time students and $4.25 per semester for part-time students.

“The SSMU created the SSMU Access Bursary Fund, funded by the SSMU Access Bursary Fee, through a student referendum in 1999, to provide bursaries, administered through Scholarships and Student Aid, to undergraduate students in financial need,” reads the motion.

The Access Bursary Fund currently supports over 2,000 undergraduate students in financial need and will be terminated if the motion does not pass. A majority “Yes” vote will continue the distribution of bursaries from the Access Bursary Fund, which will be made up of the Access Bursary Fee and matched donations by the university and alumni.


The Motion Regarding the Renewal of the SSMU Equity Fee

The motion proposes the renewal of the current opt-outable $0.50 per student per semester fee, which generate approximately $10,000 per year. This fund, according to the motion, is reserved for programs that increase diversity on campus and distributed by the SSMU Funding Committee.

“[The SSMU Equity Fund] initiatives that foster leadership, encourage civic engagement, and make observable and/or measurable differences in the representation or experiences of individuals who are members of historically and currently disadvantaged groups, support projects, research and policies that aim to end discrimination and promote accessibility and inclusiveness in the McGill community,” the motion reads.


The Motion Regarding the Renewal of the TVM: Student Television at McGill Fee

The current TVM: Student Television at McGill Fee has not been increased since the 2010-2011year. According to the motion, TVM has seen an increase in membership and services they provide. This proposes the renewal of the current opt-outable TVM: Student Television at McGill Fee in addition to a proposed $0.75 increase in the fee, resulting in a total fee of $2.25 per semester for full-time students and $1.65 per semester for part-time students. TVM is currently the only student-run film and television production services.

“[TVM] provides resources and education to the McGill community by acting as a free educational institution for the McGill community, and a not-for-profit educational institution for the Montreal community at large,” the motion reads.


The Motion Regarding Constitutional Amendments

This motion seeks to correct “outstanding errors” of a mainly grammatical nature in the SSMU constitution.

“My motivations for moving the original motion was because as a member of the Internal Regulations Review Committee, I’d been working with President [Kareem] Ibrahim and with [Arts] Senator [Erin] Sobat in addition to the rest of the committee on how to improve the constitution,” said Arts Representative to SSMU, Adam Templer. “Not only substantively but also in the grammar, and the language of the document to make sure it was more clear than in clauses where it was before far more open to interpretation.”

These changes are outlined in Appendices A and B of the motion. Additionally, Appendix C proposes a change in structure to the management of the General Assembly (GA) in order to avoid dividing the McGill student body. Appendix C states that the GA agenda will be set by the GA Steering Committee and will not include issues that have been deemed external and divisive.

“In this instance, an “external” issue shall mean an issue that is primarily external to McGill, and “divisive” shall mean an issue that one could reasonably expect significant opposition to,” reads the Appendix.

The decision of the GA Steering Committee may be overruled in the case that the GA voters decide by a two-thirds majority to discuss the external and divisive issue regardless of the Steering Committee’s decision.

“This constitutional amendment would reserve the right of the GA to adopt political stances while ensuring that positions that are not supported by a significant portion of the membership cannot be adopted,” the motion states.


The Motion Regarding the AVEQ Affiliation Referendum

This motion proposes that SSMU affiliate with the Association for the Voice of Education in Quebec (AVEQ), a provincial student association. In order to affiliate, students would have to pay a non-opt-outable $3.50 per students per semester fee that would be subject to adjustment in accordance with inflation. Emily Boytinck, SSMU vice-president (VP) external, was one of the movers of the motion and has stated that affiliating with AVEQ is an important step for the SSMU.

“After participating at the tables of both L’Union Étudiants du Quebec (UÉQ) and AVEQ since last May, I am confident that Council made the right decision in presenting AVEQ to students; its fair voting system, transparent policies, and anti-oppressive values make it a clear choice for SSMU,” Boytinck said. “If this motion doesn’t pass, McGill students just honestly won’t have their voices heard at higher levels of government, and given the recent waves of austerity and the potential for tuition deregulation, we need this more than ever.”


The Motion Regarding the Plebiscite Question on Moving Towards a Smoke Free Campus at McGill

This motion asks students if they would support the movement toward a smoke-free campus if measures were taken to ease the transition. Such measures would include the implementation of smoking shelters and educational campaigns on campus. David Benrimoh, Senate Caucus Representative, expressed that this motion is important in determining how SSMU will move to create a healthier environment for students.

“[The plebiscite question] asks students to decide how they see the future of smoking on our campus,” said Benrimoh. “It allows space for students concerned about second-hand smoke exposure to let us know if this is one of the ways we should address it, while at the same time allowing students with concerns about going smoke free to let their feelings be known.”

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