The Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Legislative Council met on Oct. 18 to address the resignation of the SSMU vice president (VP) external, Marina Cupido. Cupido resigned on Oct. 10 due to mental health concerns partially stemming from the heavy workload of the position. The position itself also fell under scrutiny, as the council discussed the appropriate use of executive social media platforms. The discussion was following Cupido’s controversial Facebook post on Oct. 2, which condemned the newly-elected Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ). Meeting lengths and the restructuring of SSMU’s fees were also up for debate.
McGill Arts and Science Senator Bryan Buraga introduced a Motion Regarding Responsible Representation in response to Cupido’s now-deleted post. In the post, which was retracted on Oct. 11, Cupido criticized the CAQ’s “xenophobic, far-right” policies and discussed their implications for students at McGill. The motion, which was tabled at the previous Legislative Council meeting, recommended that SSMU remove the Facebook post and apologize. It also outlined steps for preventing and addressing such instances in the future. Under the motion, operators of SSMU social media accounts would have to ensure that social media posts represent the consensus of the Legislative Council or the Executive Committee, rather than just being matters of personal opinion.
Arts Representative Andrew Figueiredo asserted the importance of the motion in ensuring that the student body’s opinions are represented in student government.
“I think this motion requires that SSMU takes certain steps to be sure that its […] opinions are actually reflecting what is being said by the people who are in SSMU,” Figueiredo said. “I think that this doesn’t encumber [SSMU external communications] in any way, it just makes sure that our voices are being heard [….] It’s a motion that’s made from a place of wanting our student government to represent students, and I think that’s the least we can ask for.”
Vincent Mousseau, stand-in for the Social Work Representative, raised concerns that the motion would negatively impact SSMU’s ability to condemn oppressive policies and protect marginalized students.
“I feel like it’s very irresponsible to have a motion that’s going to stifle the expression of elected members of this student union,” Mousseau said. “We know [which policies will negatively affect our students], and we need to be naming them. We need to be critiquing them, and not just putting out [vaguely] worded statements that give some semblance that we’re willing to critique and [instead] actually [do] something concrete to stand up for our students. And in a larger sense, I think it’s important to understand the way that an amendment like this would appear to marginalized students, who are in need of [our support].”
Following an hour-and-a-half–long debate, the council voted against the motion, with 13 opposed, 10 in favour, and three abstentions.
Generative Discussion on VP External Position
The council discussed how to address the vacant VP External position. SSMU President Tre Mansdoerfer announced the SSMU executive board’s plan to redistribute the position’s duties among existing commissioners. While the idea of holding a by-election was mentioned, council decided that a new VP seven months into the year might not be cohesive with the team.
“We will not be running a by-election for the VP External role, [and, instead], we will be creating new student staff positions for the External portfolio to cover previous projects that were previously under the responsibility of the Vice President,” Mansdoerfer said. “As such, we will create a Francophone Affairs Commissioner position, a Sexual Violence Mobilization Advocacy Commissioner, [and] we will be doubling the hours of certain commissioners.”
Though some raised concerns regarding the increased workload for these commissioners, Mansdoerfer stated that a three-person advisory board would be established to offer institutional support and advice on matters specific to the role.
The next SSMU Legislative Council meeting will be held on Nov. 1 in McConnell Engineering Room 603.