On Nov. 30, the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) held its last Legislative Council session of the Fall semester. At the meeting, SSMU Funding Commissioner Lauréanne Pelletier gave a presentation on financing student activities. Council also passed the Motion Regarding the Provision of Bridge Funding for Savoy Society and discussed the Governance Changes Working Group.
Funding Commissioner Presentation
At the beginning of the meeting, SSMU Funding Commissioner Lauréanne Pelletier provided an overview of the different SSMU funds available to students and clubs. In the past year, the Funding Committee approved financing for a variety of projects, including $6,000 for the McGill Iron Rink, an outdoor ice rink on lower field.
So far, the committee has reviewed 72 funding applications, and approved 55 of them, amounting to $60,000 in funding. Pelletier aims to raise awareness of existing SSMU funds so that more members can take advantage of the resources.
“We are not getting enough applications,” Pelletier said. “There is so much money left. The first thing I am doing is talking to different commissioners to try to partner up with them to promote the funds.”
Next semester, Pelletier will launch social media campaigns in partnership with Campus Life & Engagement (CLE) to inform students of the application procedures for funding.
Council next considered a motion to loan $20,000 to the The McGill Savoy Society, a non-profit student theatre group, to cover costs for its annual production. Previously a SSMU Service, the Savoy Society relied on funds from the SSMU budget. However, in Fall 2016, the Service Review Committee decided that the Society’s activities did not qualify as services and thus it lost its status as well as the funding that SSMU provides to all of its services. Savoy Society President Hannah Moloshok and Treasurer Adrian Nagy attended Council as gallery members.
Given that the Savoy Society ran a deficit last year, Councillors were concerned with its ability to repay the loan. Moloshok claimed that the deficit is overstated because of accounting mistakes made while the Society was transferring money from the Service bank account to its own club bank account.
“Actually, the only loan that we still need to repay is $1,600,” Moloshok said. “Currently, we have already received $6,000 from our solicitations of the alumni association. Along with revenue from bake sales, donations, sponsors, crowd-funding campaigns, and ticket sales, we expect to pay back the debt in no time.”
Nagy seconded Moloshok’s statement, highlighting that, historically, the Savoy Society has exhibited budgetary success.
“In the past 10 school years, we have only had three deficits, and the rest were all surpluses,” Nagy said. “Based on last year’s numbers, we are expecting to make at least $16,000 in ticket sales this year.”
With a majority vote, this motion carried, effectively issuing a $20,000 loan to Savoy Society, with an expected repayment by May 31, 2018.
Governance Changes Working Group
The Governance Changes Working Group, spearheaded by SSMU Vice-President (VP) External Affairs Connor Spencer, aims to provide general education on SSMU governance to bridge the gap between students and their representatives.
“It is really irresponsible of us to start a conversation on governance changes without acknowledging that these procedures are so inaccessible to our membership,” Spencer said.
To address inaccessibility of governance documents, one of the working group’s suggestions is to create a Joint Board of Directors and Legislative Council Committee, which will house two working groups: One to review the legal wording of SSMU documents and another to increase the visibility of governance procedures.
“We also need to consider the things that have alienated our membership,” Spencer said. “Largely, those have been scandals, and the two biggest scandals have been sexual violence and [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions] BDS. We have accountability to the people who elected us. So let’s stop discussing [these issues] behind closed doors.’’
The working group will send the proposed governance changes before the end of the nomination period on Feb. 22, 2018, to be ratified by SSMU members during the Winter 2018 Referendum.