The Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) could seek to leave the Table de concertation étudiante du Québec (TaCEQ), after fellow member association at the Université de Sherbrooke (REMDUS) voted 73.2 per cent in favour of leaving the student federation Friday.
TaCEQ is a federation of student associations that represents approximately 60,000 students from three universities in Quebec, and aims to share resources in research and congregate to lobby the Quebec government, according to its website.
The REMDUS referendum to leave TaCEQ was consultative, as the results will need to be ratified in the association’s General Assembly (GA) on Feb. 6. However, according to REMDUS President Marie-Pier Boisvert, it is likely that the results will be ratified.
“[The referendum] is strictly a consultation, it’s not decisive, and it’s going to be up to the General Assembly to decide,” Boisvert said. “But what I have in mind right now, is that they’re probably going to accept […] the referendum’s results.”
SSMU Vice-President External Samuel Harris said it would be unlikely that REMDUS would not leave.
“I don’t think they could ever strongly contradict results that strong,” Harris said. “We’ll see what happens though.”
According to Boisvert, the referendum was prompted by an accumulation of frustrations by the members of REMDUS, the most recent of which was TaCEQ’s failure to hold a congressional meeting to reform the organization.
“[We felt] it’s high time TaCEQ changed some of its oldest practices,” Boisvert said. “There always seemed to be some sort of hold up from one association or another [.…] We’ve been trying very, very hard to have this congress for reform, and we felt like we were the only ones who really wanted it.”
If the results of the referendum are upheld, only three student associations from two universities would remain in TaCEQ: Université Laval’s postgraduate student association (AELIÉS), Université Laval’s undergraduate student association (CADEUL), and SSMU.
In order to be a recognized student federation, an organization must have student association members from at least four different academic institutions.
According to Harris, who serves as SSMU’s representative to TaCEQ, SSMU now faces the uncertain future of its relationship with the federation.
“We’re reflecting right now,” Harris said. “The question is, is it worth staying without [REMDUS]? I think it’ll be extremely difficult to make it work.”
At Thursday’s SSMU Council meeting, Arts councillor Ben Reedijk argued that SSMU should leave TaCEQ, pointing to the $17,000 that SSMU contributed toward the federation this year.
“TaCEQ is very tenuous; we don’t really know what’s going on with it,” Reedijk said. “I’ve been very frustrated with it, and I don’t really feel like SSMU would be responsible to its constituents if we continued funding it past the point where we really have to, at this stage.”
Harris said the decision for SSMU to withdraw from TaCEQ could be made in several different ways, as early as this semester’s referendum period.
“I think it was a [SSMU] Council decision that created [TaCEQ] in the first place, so arguably, some would say Council could [vote to leave],” Harris said. “The most transparent way would be by referendum [….] The referendum period will have higher turnout, and I’d be more willing to do that.”
TaCEQ will be holding a meeting on Feb. 9 to discuss the organization’s future, as it is currently engaged as an intervener in a court case regarding students’ right to free association with student societies. These legal and financial obligations will continue to tie the student associations together over the next few months.
“We have other things we need to clear, financially,” Boisvert said. “Even if we disaffiliate, we’re still going to be a part of [the TaCEQ court case]. We want to stay close to these other associations [….] There are no hard feelings; we want to have those links.”