The Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) held its second Legislative Council meeting of the Fall semester on Sept. 30, where members approved a motion to put forward an amendment to the SSMU constitution that would add an Outaouais campus representative to the Legislative Council. During the question period, members discussed the suspensions of the DriveSafe and WALKSAFE programs in early and mid-September respectively, the protests regarding the lack of consultation on the Royal Victoria project, and SSMU president Darshan Daryanani’s absences at two consecutive Legislative Council meetings.
Campus Outaouais is a Gatineau-based, Francophone campus belonging to the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. The motion on Campus Outaouais representation seeks to address the unique linguistic and geographic challenges that students at the Outaouais campus face in accessing SSMU’s health and dental plan, student services, and student life activities such as clubs. Medicine Representative Benson Wan discussed the delays in instituting proper and direct representation of Francophone medical students, noting that they are currently represented by the majority English-speaking, Montreal-based Medical Students’ Society (MSS).
The motion had originally been submitted to the Legislative Council in October 2020. In May 2021, the MSS held an election for the Campus Outaouais’ University Representative position. The seat will not be a voting member of the Legislative Council until the constitution is changed.
SSMU vice-president (VP) Finance Éric Sader raised logistical questions about the challenges of implementing a Campus Outaouais representative at the Legislative Council. In particular, Sader questioned the plan for a flexible transition. Wan responded, stating that a hybrid session would be possible and that students’ full representation is important.
“Students in Gatineau pay for all fees,” Wan argued. “They are being taxed without being properly represented.”
During the question period, Science Representative Andres Perez Tiniacos brought forward two questions, the first regarding the DriveSafe and WALKSAFE programs’ suspension. SSMU VP Student Life Karla Heisele Cubilla explained that COVID-19 public health restrictions were the main reasons that their services ceased their operations.
“Both are planning to operate in October,” Heisele Cubilla said. “They were not able to start because they are volunteer-based. They are trying to get back on track and are recruiting [….] It is unsafe for them [to operate right now].”
Tiniacos’ second question had to do with the New Vic project and the recent protests—which were largely centred around the McGill administration’s lack of proper consultation with students—staged against it.
“Student consultation is [being brought up] because the McGill administration has not done proper consultation with many key groups, […] specifically Indigenous, local, and student communities,” SSMU VP External Affairs Sacha Delouvrier said. “We realized that McGill had no willingness to budge on their plan and listen to student needs [.…] [SSMU’s] consultation with the student body was not directly made because it was a time-sensitive issue.”
Science Representative Asma Khamis raised a question about Daryanani not being present at their Legislative Council meeting. SSMU VP Internal Affairs Sarah Paulin responded on his behalf.
“He is unavailable at the moment,” Paulin said. “That is all I can say at this time.”
Tiniacos noted that it is the president’s duty to attend and that it was the second consecutive absence for Daryanani.
“Will we have the presence of the leading figure of the society at our meetings?” Tiniacos asked.
Moment of the Meeting
Tiniacos motion, seconded by Khamis, to suspend Standing Rules and move to a generative discussion regarding the accountability of executives in light of the allegations launched in //The McGill Daily//’s article titled “Sexism and Silence in SSMU.” The suspension required a three-quarter majority, and failed with 12 votes yes, 5 votes no, and 8 abstentions.
“Now, I’d like to please remind you to vote. You represent students, you not voting is against your job. Your job is to represent students.”
– Speaker of the Legislative Council Alexandre Ashkir reminded council members of their duties.