SSMU Winter 2021 referendum endorsements

Increase of the SSMU Membership Fee: Yes

The proposed $1.20 increase to the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Membership Fee will go toward hourly wages for student senators and Legislative Council members. Despite dedicating many hours to student government, representatives are currently unpaid, except in cases of demonstrated financial need. If approved, the fee would help fund the salaries for all senators and councillors starting in Fall 2021. A “yes” vote to increase the non–opt-outable fee would make positions within student government more accessible to all students, including those who are not eligible for Work Study or who cannot dedicate time to an unpaid position. Fairly compensating representatives for their labour is a crucial step toward making student government accessible.

Renewal of the Midnight Kitchen Fee: Yes

Midnight Kitchen is a volunteer and worker-run SSMU service that provides free meals for McGill students in Montreal. Prior to the pandemic, Midnight Kitchen served affordable vegan lunches on campus. The group is currently delivering food from their food bank and coordinating meal pick-ups for the McGill community. A renewal of the opt-outable $3.35 Midnight Kitchen fee will support these programs, which prioritize individuals facing food insecurity in Montreal. Additionally, a “yes” vote to the allocation of discretionary funding will allow Midnight Kitchen to continue using up to five per cent of its current fee budget to execute projects, initiatives, and events in line with its mandate. 

Renewal of the Safety Services Fee: Yes

A renewal of the non–opt-outable $3.97 Safety Services Fee will continue funding for the following campus services: DriveSafe ($0.60), McGill Student Emergency Response Team (MSERT) ($1.50), Sexual Assault Centre of the McGill Students’ Society (SACOMSS) ($1.75), and Walk Safe ($0.12). With the tentative return to on-campus activities in Fall 2021, these services will be necessary for students’ health and safety. If approved, WalkSafe and DriveSafe will continue ensuring that students return home safely from campus at night. MSERT will resume providing on-site first-aid and SACOMSS maintain resources for survivors of sexual violence; the two are vital services during in-person teaching. 

Peer Support Centre Fee: Yes

A vote to renew the Peer Support Centre (PSC) Fee of $0.62 per semester will sustain PSC operations, which include free peer counselling for students. Furthermore, a vote in favour of this renewal would eliminate the current PSC Fee as an independent fee and instead include it as part of McGill’s Referral Service Fee. The current Referral Service Fee provides funding for Nightline, the Union for Gender Empowerment, Queer McGill, and the Eating Disorder Resource and Support Centre. The addition of the PSC Fee to the opt-outable Referral Service Fee will increase its cost from $3.35 per semester to $3.97. 

Renewal of the Mental Health Fee: Yes

Renewing the $0.40 per semester Mental Health Fee will allow for the maintenance of the SSMU Mental Health Committee. A vote in favour also makes this fee non–opt-outable. Despite concerns from the student body regarding the insufficient mental health services offered at the McGill Wellness Hub, such as long-wait times and inaccessible booking, making this fund non–opt-outable will provide the Committee with a steady source of funding. It will also enable more concrete projects such as the creation of “Mental Health MyCourses,” an online wellness portal that would clarify avenues of accessing support for students. 

Renewal of the Anti-Violence Fee: Yes

By voting “yes” to renew the opt-outable Anti-Violence Fee, SSMU members will continue to fund the Gendered and Sexual Violence Policy (GSVP), which was created in 2018 after allegations of sexual violence were raised against SSMU employees. At $0.45 per term, this fund will allow for the expansion of the GSVP, including the hiring of two Anti-Violence Coordinators to oversee the policy’s implementation. This fee also supports the continuation of the GSVP training program and other discretionary funding for student initiatives, including advocacy campaigns and student-led gendered and sexual violence prevention training. 

Amendment of the SSMU Constitution: Yes

A “yes” vote to the proposed amendment to the SSMU Constitution will remove a line in Article 8.9 stating that councillors and legislators cannot be remunerated for their work, except in instances of financial need. If passed, students holding these positions would be eligible to receive an hourly wage starting in Fall 2021 provided the SSMU Base Fee Increase is also approved. This amendment improves accessibility to student government by opening doors to those without the means to hold an unpaid position. 

Renewal of the SSMU Access Bursary Fund Fee: Yes

A vote in favour of renewing the SSMU Access Bursary Fund will enable SSMU to continue providing bursaries to students in need of financial aid. The opt-outable fee is $8.50 for full-time students per semester and $4.25 for part-time students. The funds raised by this fee are matched by alumni donations and constitute one of McGill’s largest bursary funds. In the 2019-20 academic year, 367 undergraduate students who demonstrated financial need received a bursary from this fund. Since 1999, more than 2,500 students have received this bursary. 

Renewal of the University Centre Fee: Yes

This non–opt-outable semesterly fee of $8.02 for full-time students and $4.01 for part-time students will increase at a rate of 5.6 per cent annually until Winter 2026. If this fee passes, it will continue to fund the rent and utilities for the University Centre on campus, with any surplus directed towards renovation costs for the building. With the building renovations projected to wrap up this semester, students will reap the benefits of this fee once it is safe to return to campus.

Renewal of the TVM: Student Television at McGill Fee: Yes

A “yes” vote to the renewal of the opt-outable $1.50 per semester fee will allow TVM: Student Television at McGill to continue providing students both a creative outlet and a place to develop their multimedia and film production skills. TVM also live-streams and records events such as the SSMU Candidates Debate for the McGill community. After attending a training session, students gain free access to equipment for personal projects. TVM also serves as an alternative to McGill’s lack of a film production program.

Discretionary Funding for Queer McGill: Yes

A ‘yes’ to this motion will allow Queer McGill to offer up to 10 per cent of its budget as discretionary funding toward projects and initiatives in line with its mandate. Queer McGill is a support and educational service that aims to make campus safer for 2SLGBTQIA+ people. Queer McGill also offers several resources for safer sex, as well as gender-affirming products and menstruation supplies. This motion would permit Queer McGill to have greater autonomy in enacting their outreach iniatives. 

Renewal of the Access McGill Ancillary Fee: Yes

A vote “yes” to the renewal of the non-opt-outable $2.00 per semester fee will allow the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD) to continue providing funding for services and resources that improve accessibility on campus for students with disabilities, mental health conditions, chronic health impairments, or other conditions. Such services include exam accommodations, assistive technology resources, and campus transport. Since 1988, the Access McGill Ancillary Fee has provided equipment and services to make campus facilities more accessible.

Renewal and Increase of the WUSC Student Refugee Program Fee: Yes to both

A “yes” vote to this motion will allow the McGill of the World University Service of Canada (WUSC) branch to execute its Student Refugee Program (SRP), which aims to settle three refugee students per year. The program sponsors the students’ expenses for one year, and allows them to gain permanent residency after arriving in Canada. A “yes” vote to renew the non–opt-outable fee of $2.00 per semester will allow the SRP to continue sponsoring students. Additionally, a vote in favour of the fee increase question would raise the fee from $2.00 to $4.00, enabling SRP to increase its sponsorship to four or five students per year. 

MSA Service Fee: Yes

The Muslim Students Association (MSA) hopes to create an opt-outable Service Fee of $0.99 through this referendum. The MSA offers resources and support to Muslim students at McGill, including prayer services, mental health services, educational classes, professional development services, and social events. A “yes” to the creation of this fee would support existing services and allow the MSA to further expand their services. Additionally, a “yes” vote to allocate discretionary funding will allow the MSA to devote 5.16 per cent of its fee budget to provide financial aid to Muslim students in need.

Renewal of the McGill Writing Centre Ancillary Fee: Yes

A “yes” to this fee will renew the McGill Writing Centre’s (MWC) non–opt-outable fee of $1.50 per semester. The MWC offers up to seven free hours of individualized writing consultations per term for each student. Tutors are experienced writing instructors with PhDs in their field or McGill alumni with tutoring experience. If renewed, the fee will go towards funding tutor and coordinator salaries. This fee will also enable the MWC to increase the number tutoring appointments to meet increased student demand.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Midnight Kitchen could allocate 20 per cent of its budget to discretionary funding. Midnight Kitchen allocates five per cent of its budget to discretionary funding. The Tribune apologizes for this error.

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