The Student’s Society of McGill University (SSMU) Legislative Council convened on Nov. 1 to discuss the upcoming referendum and the Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grading option. The Council also approved the May 31, 2018 fiscal year end report by Fuller-Landau, the accounting firm that audits SSMU’s finances, and called for a more concerted effort to livestream the Council meetings. In regard to the upcoming referendum, which will take place Nov. 9-12, the Council approved the motion on discretionary funding for the Sexual Assault Center of the McGill Students’ Society (SACOMSS) and changes made to the Environment and Anti-Violence Fees.
Council also discussed last month’s Children of the Corn party, for which SSMU had to spend an additional $10,000 to cover the cost of transportation when six of the seven buses they chartered failed to provide return trips downtown. The buses claimed that students had violated their policies by drinking, smoking, and vomiting on board. Currently, Vice-President (VP) Internal Matthew McLaughlin is looking into reimbursing students for their personal transportation costs.
“The last possible option for transportation was to have students order taxis or take Ubers to get back home and have SSMU members pay for that,” McLaughlin said. “So, that’s what ended up happening [….] It’s tragic because of the expense, but we’ve launched a portal [….] So far we’ve had 79 requests total.”
Late motion regarding reduction of GA quorum postponed
“I do not like it being 150, I want to figure out other ways to do this,” Mansdoefer said. “[But] I do not feel like we have another choice.”
Arts Representative Andrew Figueiredo critiqued the motion as unjust and pointed out that Mansdoefer had submitted it late, not giving students enough time to contemplate it.
“0.75 per cent of the student body, less than that, actually, shouldn’t be able to dictate the direction of [SSMU],” Figueiredo said. “I think that is fundamentally undemocratic. This is an abomination to bring something up with this much gravity and to try and rush it onto the November ballot doesn’t give people the chance to organize ‘No’ campaigns or ‘Yes’ campaigns on this.”
The motion was postponed indefinitely by Arts Councillor Ana Paula Sanchez.
VP University Affairs (UA) motion advocates for S/U grading option
Upholding his platform promise, VP University Affairs Jacob Shapiro proposed the Motion Regarding VP UA Mandate to Advocate for S/U Grading Option. In the motion, Shapiro asks that SSMU approve his mandate to lobby for students to be given the option to switch to a letter grade in their S/U courses. Shapiro reasoned that the S/U system would continue to encourage students to venture out of their comfort zones, with the possibility of a letter grade also incentivizing them to do well.
“It kind of gives people a fail-safe,” Shapiro said. “If more are taking classes pass-fail, more people can deprioritize the course if they’re [having] a rough or rocky semester, and I think a lot of students would appreciate the value of taking a class pass-fail.”
Senate Caucus Representative Andre Lametti disagreed with Shapiro’s reasoning.
“For me, I believe that motivation to get an A is not the only motivation to take a course,” Lametti said. “If you have the option to change an S/U option into an A […], the motivation to get the grade might still exist. I enjoyed taking courses with the S/U option, and I think that removing the [pre-existing] S/U option removes this and is bad for educational standards, and goes against [the] VP University Affairs Mandate.”
Ultimately, the motion passed with 17 in favour, four opposed, and four abstentions.
Council will reconvene on Nov. 15 in McConnell Engineering 603.