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SSMU Council endorses QPIRG referendum question

Motion to support QPIRG Winter 2015 referendum

Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Council passed a motion to support the McGill  branch of the Québec Public Interest Research Group (QPIRG)’s 2015 referendum by endorsing a “Yes” vote for a fee increase from the current $3.75 per semester to $5.00 per semester for full-time students. SSMU Vice-President University Affairs Claire Stewart-Kanigan spoke to the motion.  

“QPIRG provides a hub on campus for social justice-related research, advocacy, and organizing,” she said. “But it’s also a great academic resource for the community [….] QPIRG provides an excellent service on campus and there is clearly rationale for the expansion of their resources to continue providing the great services that they do.” 

QPIRG plans to use the $42,000 that would be gained from the fee increase to sustain current programming as well as to fund new initiatives, such as the creation of more work study positions, according to QPIRG student board members Ella Belfer and Cadence O’Neal.

“Over the past few years, our finances have been increasingly unsustainable,” Belfer said to Council. “We’ve been trying to supplement that as much as possible with grants and external sources of funding, but a lot of those sources of funding have been drying up, and at the same time, inflation has made our budget a lot smaller.” 

Among the services that QPIRG has had to cut back on this year are Culture Shock and Social Justice Days, two of QPIRG’s annual event series. Culture Shock, which in the past has run for a full week, was reduced to three days.

“It’s really important that SSMU is vocal in supporting QPIRG,” Belfer said. “One of the valuable things that we’ve been able to provide to the campus is an alternative space for people who don’t necessarily feel like they’re included in a lot of typical McGill activities, anything from frosh to ongoing programs, clubs, and events.”

Motion regarding interim changes for Board of Directors elections

Council also passed a motion regarding interim changes for the Board of Directors elections. The motion allows elections for the Board of Directors to take place earlier in the year, institutionalizes the responsibility of being a councillor on the Board of Directors during the summer period, and gives SSMU permission to run a referendum to approve Board of Director nominations outside the regular approval timeframe, according to the motion document and its mover Stewart-Kanigan. 

It also mandates outgoing Executive Committee members to inform incoming councillors of the opportunity to sit on the Board of Directors and train the elected councillors to be informed of the opportunity before June 1.   

“The benefit [of this motion] is that the Election Committee will actually be able to do work during the summer,” Medicine Senator David Benrimoh said. “This will actually end up with a better Board of Directors that’s better trained and knows what it’s getting itself into.”

Notice of motion to support family care

Stewart-Kanigan raised a notice of motion regarding the SSMU Policy of Support for Family Care. The motion, if passed, would have SSMU adopt an ongoing stance of support for current and future efforts to expand child care services for SSMU and McGill community members. SSMU would also participate in advocacy efforts to lobby the Quebec government to expand the provision of limits on daycare licenses granted by the government.

“[Family care] has been an ongoing challenge on campus,” Stewart-Kanigan said. “The daycare needs are dramatically underserved, with over 700 children currently on the waiting list with the McGill Childcare Centre [….] These are longstanding issues that are going to require multi-year advocacy, and it’s important to have a policy that stands through for those series of years.”

The motion will be brought to Council on March 12. 

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