News, SSMU

SSMU Board of Directors debate J-Board’s judgment on SPHR McGill v. SSMU case

On Oct. 21, the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Board of Directors (BoD) met to address several motions, including a motion to ratify the SSMU Judicial Board’s (J-Board) final judgement on Students in Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights McGill (SPHR) v. SSMU. 

The original Nakba Day motion was discussed and approved by the SSMU Legislative Council on May 13, in an allegedly confidential session. Typically, the Legislative Council approves in a public session. Once motions leave the Legislative Council, they go to the SSMU BoD to get ratified. The SSMU BoD is a significantly smaller council and they often meet in confidential sessions. SPHR and Bryan Buraga, a student representative for SPHR and former SSMU president, submitted a petition to the J-Board, claiming that the BoD’s choice to not approve the Nakba Day motion was invalid because the vote occurred in a confidential BoD session. The final J-Board ruling dictated that the BoD should reassess the original motion regarding Nakba Day and bring it to vote again. 

The majority of the SSMU BoD’s discussion revolved around whether or not to approve the J-Board’s ruling. Many BoD members expressed concern that the J-Board ruling does not hold, because the Legislative Council approved the motion in an allegedly confidential session. 

“I hope that the [BoD] can go through the facts and make sure that there are no other errors, as well, so that there is not a continual back and forth [between J-Board and BoD],” said BoD member-at-large Beatrice Mackie. 

Mackie also defended the BoD’s decision to keep the meeting minutes involving the Nakba Day decision confidential.

“I do feel uncomfortable with the remedy of allowing the minutes to be published even if our names are taken off, simply because it has happened before where members of the Board and SSMU have received death threats and threats to their safety,” Mackie said, “I would strongly recommend against [making the meeting minutes public].”

Alex Karasick, SSMU Legislative council representative to the BoD, apologized for the BoD’s nearly four-month delay in submitting required documents requested by J-Board. 

“My apologies to the Judicial Board and former president Buraga for both our delay in responding and the delay in form,” Karasick said. “It was an unfortunate combination of internal factors and just bureaucracy [….] SSMU is an absolute horrendous beast of bureaucracy.”

The motion to ratify the J-Board ruling was not passed by the BoD; instead, it was replaced by a motion to reconsider the judgement and have director Karasick provide J-Board with a written statement of the reconsideration. This second motion passed with seven votes in favour, two abstentions, and none opposed. 

The Board also addressed a motion regarding nominations to the BoD and a motion for the interim replacement of SSMU president Darshan Daryanani by SSMU vice-president (VP) Finance Eric Sader as the signatory on SSMU meeting minutes and documents. The motion to temporarily cede these responsibilities to Sader was unanimously passed. 

Moment of the Meeting:

The meeting opened with an overview of SSMU’s financial audit, presented by two members of the Fuller Landau accounting firm. One finding from the audit was that fees for the SSMU Health & Dental Plan had decreased for individual students by an average of 12 dollars per student, but that the overall fees collected by SSMU for the plan increased by 70,000 dollars because 439 more students subscribed to it.   

Soundbite:

“If you folks feel like you have not had the opportunity to say your piece, I might suggest that you send it back to the J-Board and make sure that this time you submit your respondent forms and declarations on time so that we can adjudicate this as expeditiously as possible. Otherwise it would be nice to see the Board of Directors ratify it at this point and just go through the procedures properly and follow things by the letter as laid out in the internal regulations.” 

—Former SSMU president Bryan Buraga on behalf of SPHR McGill trying to expedite the decision process that began four months ago.

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