A guide to SSMU
SSMU is the largest student organisation at Mcgill. It provides funding and space for clubs and campus groups, and advocates on behalf of the student body to the university administration. It has a leadership structure comprised of two decision-making bodies: the Legislative Council and the Board of Directors. Within both these bodies sit the executives, a team of seven students—now six, since VP Operations Anuradha Mallik’s resignation in mid-august—who are elected to govern SSMU together. Councillors and directors are also elected to represent different subsections of the student population.
SSMU has 7 elected executive positions. The execs are Mcgill students who participate in Council and sometimes serve on the Board of Directors. The executive positions are President, VP University Affairs, VP External, VP Internal Affairs, VP Student Life, VP Finance, and VP Operations. They all have individual mandates related to the functioning of SSMU, with a portfolio of committees and responsibilities specific to their position. The execs are expected to present any major developments within their portfolios at each Council meeting. In essence, the President determines the broad vision of the Society and provides support to the rest of the team. The VP External handles SSMU’S relationship with organizations beyond the university, as well as campus political campaigns. The VP Internal, meanwhile, organizes on- campus events (such a frosh and 4Floors) and sends out a weekly listserv to all members of the Society to encourage community-building. The VP University Affairs advocates on behalf of students to the Mcgill administration. The VP Operations and Sustainability (whose post is currently vacant) is in charge of the Shatner building, SSMU’S sustainability initiatives, and the student bar, Gerts. The VP Finance maintains the budget and financial stability of the Society. Finally, the VP Student Life is the coordinator between the SSMU Council and student-run clubs and organizations. They also focus on issues related to students’ quality of life, like mental health services. All of the execs serve on SSMU Council, but only four serve on the Board of Directors: the President, the VP Operations, the VP Finance, and one other exec appointed by Council.
The General Assembly is a meeting open to all SSMU members (meaning YOU!) and is scheduled to meet twice a year, once during each semester. In addition to these biannual meetings, the dates of which are set by SSMU, Special General Assemblies can be organized by a group of fifty or more students. This group must represent four different faculties with no more than 50 per cent of the students being from one faculty. Any Mcgill undergraduate can attend a General Assembly and participate in the legislative process. Students can also submit motions to the General Assembly, which grants them an opportunity to implement direct change, and to hold the leadership of SSMU accountable for political and/or personal decisions that have influenced their ability to adequately represent the student body. The fall General Assembly is scheduled to take place on Monday, 23 October 2017 in the SSMU ballroom, located on the third floor of the Shatner building.
Board of Directors
The SSMU Board of Directors is the highest governing body within SSMU, and is responsible for running the business affairs of the Society and for ratifying certain political decisions. The Board is comprised of nine appointed students and four SSMU execs. The nine appointed students are eight Directors and one international student representative who does not have a vote. The meetings of the Board of Directors are closed, and despite a hopeful “coming soon!” message on their website, they have yet to publish minutes for their meetings from 2015 and 2016.
SSMU’S Legislative Council consists of all seven execs as well as thirty elected councillors representing campus groups and societies. They meet once every two weeks to make decisions about policy and legislative changes within SSMU as well as the day-to- day running of the organization. The topics covered at a meeting could be anything from budget allocation to policy making. Meetings tend to last for several hours, but Council publishes agendas in advance, in order to encourage students to attend and participate in debate. The meetings have a rigid structure, sometimes characterized by time- consuming bureaucratic procedures and procedural jargon, which can make them feel inaccessible to the uninitiated. Still, Council is probably the best place to go if you’re interested in the way SSMU is governed. The first meeting of the semester is scheduled for Thursday September 14, in the Lev Bukhman room of the SSMU building.