McGill, News

SUS discusses annual budget and changes to grading policies

On Sept. 26, the Science Undergraduate Society (SUS) members convened for their second annual meeting. Among the actions taken were the approval of the budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year, details new initiatives, and a brief discussion on desired changes to McGill’s satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading option. Members also discussed a Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) motion regarding member affiliation with far-right groups.

SUS Vice-President Finance Dylan Wong presented their 2018-19 fiscal year budget to the council. He explained that last year’s budget deficit hindered the planning of this year’s Science Frosh activities.

“We have enough rollover to run Frosh, but we have used up a lot of our funds in order to run Frosh to its full extent because we didn’t have as much rollover as we should have and as we have had in previous years,” Wong said.

The approved budget will generate more than $113,000 of surplus funds by cutting SUS spending and making use of revenue from this year’s Frosh, which exceeded expectations. According to Wong, this will allow for flexibility when planning Frosh next year.  

SSMU representatives also presented their motions and expressed concern about the Motion to Adopt a Policy Against Affiliation with Far-Right Groups, which the SSMU Legislative Council debated the next day. Ultimately though, the SSMU Council postponed making a decision on the matter.

“The definition [of ‘far-right’] laid out there […] is very vague and very broad,” Science Representative to SSMU Moses Milchberg said. “Under the definition as it stands […], people could potentially make the case that [Conservative McGill] is a far-right organization because of an individual they associate with.”

The definition of “far-right” in the motion is currently taken from RationalWiki, a volunteer-based nonprofit that claims to ‘ fight pseudoscience.’ The motion seeks to deny SSMU membership to clubs associated with far-right groups, and to bar members of far-right groups from running for SSMU offices.

In addition, SUS executives sought input regarding the possibility of modifying the satisfactory/unsatisfactory (S/U), or ‘pass/fail,’ grading option. The S/U option allows students to obtain credit for a course if their grades are satisfactory without having a letter grade affecting their GPA or appearing on their transcripts. Under the current rules, the grading option for a course cannot be changed after the add-drop deadline has passed.

The primary proposed change is to extend the deadline to switch back from S/U to regular grading. Representatives were asked to present their suggestions at the next Council meeting.

“Nothing was set in stone yet,” Vice-President (Academic) Michael Ogundeji said. “[The faculty] just really wanted to know what we think about it and potential problems that can arise from it.”

SUS President Reem Mandil clarified that the faculty administration would not permit students to take more than one S/U course per semester or change regular courses to S/U after add-drop.

Finally, SUS executives announced a series of upcoming events such as an SUS pancake breakfast on Oct. 12 at 9 a.m. around the SUS office area at which Science students will have the opportunity to socialize and meet the SUS executive team.

In addition, Science students interested in attending graduate school were encouraged to register for the McGill Science Grad Fair at New Residence Hall on Nov. 6.

Vice-President Internal Zlata Plotnikova announced the creation of a ‘Department of the Year’ award. Each department under SUS will receive a point when one of its students attends an activity organized by the Science Internal Committee (SIC). The award will go to the most-involved department.

Following the resignation of former VP external Michelle Guo, the executives also announced a by-election to fill the position.  

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