SSMU Gen­eral As­sem­bly

Di­vest book block­ade protest Su­sanne Fortier in­ter­viewed by cam­pus me­dia

The McGill Daily - - Contents - Nora Mccready The Mcgill Daily

The Stu­dents So­ci­ety of Mcgill Univer­sity (SSMU) Fall Gen­eral As­sem­bly (GA) con­vened on Mon­day, Oc­to­ber 23. Over 200 stu­dents at­tended. The GA con­venes once each se­mes­ter and is the main fo­rum in which stu­dents who are not di­rectly in­volved in stu­dent govern­ment can make their voices heard.

Mo­tion of non-con­fi­dence in SSMU Pres­i­dent

The night be­gan on a con­tentious note, with Arts Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Kevin Zhou propos­ing a sus­pen­sion of Robert’s rules in order to adopt all late mo­tions to the agenda. Nor­mally, this would not be in order, but due to a fail­ure on be­half of the SSMU Pres­i­dent, Muna To­ji­boeva, to no­tify the pub­lic of dead­lines for sub­mit­ting mo­tions, all of the mo­tions were sent in late.

The pro­posed mo­tions in­cluded a mo­tion ad­vo­cat­ing for SSMU to urge Mcgill to sup­port and par­tic­i­pate in the In­ter­na­tional In­sti­tute of Ed­u­ca­tion’s Syria con­sor­tium for higher ed­u­ca­tion in cri­sis, a mo­tion for SSMU to con­demn the dis­ci­plinary ac­tion which was then be­ing taken against Ma­suma Asad Khan by Dal­housie Univer­sity, a mo­tion re­gard­ing changes to the SSMU Sus­tain­abil­ity Pol­icy, and a mo­tion of non- con­fi­dence in the SSMU Pres­i­dent. Later dur­ing the as­sem­bly a mo­tion was pro­posed by a mem­ber re­gard­ing the SSMU build­ing clo­sure.

The au­di­ence voted to sus­pend Robert’s rules and adopt the agenda as a whole, how­ever, SSMU Direc­tor, Jonathan Glus­tein, took is­sue with the method of count­ing the vote and de­manded a re­count. This led to a pro­tracted de­bate about the method of vot­ing, Glus­tein as­sert­ing mul­ti­ple times that he could not ac­cept a vote that wasn’t counted by hand. Ul­ti­mately, af­ter con­sid­er­able de­lay and con­fu­sion, the vote passed and the agenda was not adopted.

All mo­tions were added to the agenda, how­ever, ex­cept the mo­tion of non-con­fi­dence in SSMU Pres­i­dent Muna To­ji­boeva. Af­ter a vote by se­cret bal­lot that took roughly half an hour to ad­min­is­ter, the mo­tion was re­jected, fall­ing short of the two-thirds ma­jor­ity needed to adopt it onto the agenda de­spite earn­ing the sup­port of more than half the stu­dents in the room. Some mem­bers ex­pressed frus­tra­tion with this de­ci­sion, voic­ing con­cerns about the lack of in­for­ma­tion To­ji­boeva made pub­lic about the dead­line for sub­mit­ting mo­tions.

Cather­ine, a U3 Arts stu­dent, urged the Speaker to re­con­sider the vote.

“I’m won­der­ing why this is our vot­ing pro­ce­dure when the only rea­son why we have to do this is be­cause of Muna’s in­com­pe­tency,” said Cather­ine. “This re­in­forces the mo­tion that was pro­posed be­cause she messed up.” This pro­posal was not in order, how­ever, and the mo­tion of non-con­fi­dence was not de­bated.

Nom­i­nat­ing the new Board of Di­rec­tors

Fol­low­ing this con­tentious vote, the agenda was adopted, and the as­sem­bly moved on to rat­i­fy­ing the 2017/2018 Board of Di­rec­tors.

The Board of Di­rec­tors is the high­est gov­ern­ing body in SSMU, with the power to rat­ify mo­tions passed in Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil and ref­er­ences from the Ju­di­cial Board. Ac­cord­ing to the Con­sti­tu­tion, it must be made up of 12 mem­bers: four SSMU ex­ec­u­tives, four leg­isla­tive coun­cilors, and four mem­bers-at-large. The ques­tion of whether or not this com­bi­na­tion of Di­rec­tors is the only per­mis­si­ble com­po­si­tion for the Board is cur­rently the sub­ject of a tense de­bate in the up­per ech­e­lons of SSMU. This is be­cause un­til late September, when VP Stu­dent Life Je­mark Earle took of­fice as a Direc­tor, there were only three ex­ec­u­tives and an over­whelm­ing nine mem­bers-at-large serv­ing, throw­ing the Board’s de­ci­sions dur­ing this pe­riod into ques­tion­able le­gal ter­ri­tory.

On Novem­ber 15, how­ever, the Board for the new aca­demic year is sched­uled to take of­fice. As such, the nom­i­na­tions up for de­bate at the GA in­cluded Pres­i­dent Muna To­ji­boeva, VP Fi­nance Ar­isha Khan, VP In­ter­nal Maya Koparkar, VP Stu­dent Life Je­mark Earle, Vi­vian Camp­bell, Madeleine Kausel, Noah Lew, Mana Moshk­faroush, Josephine Wright- O’manique, Jes­sica Rau, Alexan­dre Sch­ef­fel, and Kevin Zhou. The four ex­ec­u­tives are cur­rently serv­ing on the Board, as are mem­bers-at-large Lew and Sch­ef­fel. The Pres­i­dent and the VP Fi­nance are con­sti­tu­tion­ally man­dated to serve on the Board, so the nom­i­na­tions of To­ji­boeva and Khan were not up for vote, and they were au­to­mat­i­cally rat­i­fied.

What fol­lowed was a de­bate about whether or not to di­vide the ques­tion of rat­i­fi­ca­tion for the other ten nom­i­nees, mean­ing the au­di­ence would have to vote on each nom­i­na­tion separately in­stead of rat­i­fy­ing the list in its en­tirety. VP In­ter­nal Maya Koparkar mo­tioned to di­vide the ques­tion, and de­spite ve­he­ment op­po­si­tion from a few stu­dents, the mo­tion passed.

Vi­vian Camp­bell, Madeleine Kausel, Maya Koparkar, Je­mark Earle, Mana Moshk­faroush, Jes­sica Rau and Kevin Zhou were all voted onto this year’s Board with over­whelm­ing sup­port. Noah Lew, Josephine Wright- O’manique, and Alexan­dre Sch­ef­fel all fell short of the thresh­old to be rat­i­fied onto the Board of Di­rec­tors.

Noah Lew was the first con­tentious nom­i­nee. When the Speaker an­nounced that he had not been voted onto the Board, a large group of peo­ple stood up and filed out of the ball­room. It was sub­se­quently an­nounced via so­cial me­dia that the group had left in order to protest the vote against Lew, which they per­ceived to be mo­ti­vated by anti-semitism.

Other busi­ness

Fol­low­ing the rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the Board of Di­rec­tors, the au­di­ence voted in favour of the mo­tion ad­vo­cat­ing for SSMU to lobby the univer­sity to pro­vide schol­ar­ships and other ed­u­ca­tional sup­ports to Syr­ian refugees. A U3 Arts stu­dent ex­pressed sup­port for the mo­tion:

“2.2 mil­lion Syr­ian stu­dents out­side of the coun­try are not in school. [...] It’s safe to say that the ma­jor­ity of refugees in the coun­tries that are tak­ing [...] refugees aren’t be­ing ed­u­cated prop­erly. [...] You can un­der­stand why they are be­ing called the ‘lost gen­er­a­tion’ [...] and why it’s be­ing called an ed­u­ca­tion cri­sis. And, de­spite these statis­tics, de­spite the fact that so many na­tions have taken refugees, there has been no form of in­sti­tu­tional sup­port for peo­ple who need to con­tinue their post-secondary ed­u­ca­tion.”

The GA also voted with over­whelm­ing sup­port to con­demn the dis­ci­plinary ac­tion be­ing taken by Dal­housie Univer­sity against Ma­suma Asad Khan. VP Ex­ter­nal Con­nor Spencer gave con­text for the mo­tion.

“This is a stu­dent ex­ec­u­tive at the Dal­housie Stu­dent Union who had a for­mal com­plaint lodged against her for her ac­tivism work within the union, and the univer­sity de­cided to en­ter­tain it, [ac­cus­ing her] of dis­crim­i­na­tion against white peo­ple that she has per­pet­u­ated by speak­ing of white fragility in the con­text of anti-colo­nial Canada 150 events.”

The GA also voted to pass the mo­tion amend­ing the SSMU sus­tain­abil­ity pol­icy.

Af­ter these mo­tions pass, U1 Arts stu­dent, Na­dine Pe­laez, an exec from the Player’s The­atre, brought a mo­tion to the floor ask­ing SSMU to draft a con­crete ac­tion plan for deal­ing with the build­ing clo­sure. They com­mu­ni­cated feel­ing aban­doned by SSMU given the value of the Play­ers The­atre to stu­dents, and stressed the fail­ure of SSMU to make ar­range­ments for tem­po­rary space dur­ing the sched­uled Spring ren­o­va­tions.

Pe­laez quoted from the SSMU website to stress the im­por­tance of this mo­tion: “SSMU’S pri­mary obli­ga­tion shall be to sup­port af­fil­i­ated stu­dent groups and [...] stu­dent en­deav­ors shall be pri­or­i­tized over any other sort of en­deavor in SSMU’S space.”

Anas­ta­sia Dud­ley, a U3 stu­dent and rep­re­sen­ta­tive from Mid­night Kitchen echoed these sen­ti­ments. The au­di­ence passed the mo­tion with over­whelm­ing sup­port.

Dur­ing the ques­tion pe­riod, Arno Pe­dram, a Cul­ture Edi­tor at The Daily, asked Pres­i­dent Muna To­ji­boeva to re­spond to the fact that a ma­jor­ity of the stu­dents present voted in favour of bring­ing for­ward a mo­tion of non-con­fi­dence in her. To­ji­boeva re­sponded by claim­ing that she is sup­ported by the larger Mcgill com­mu­nity, and will not be in­flu­enced by the non-con­fi­dence of a com­par­a­tively small group, and then pro­ceeded to ac­cuse the au­di­ence of anti- Semitism.

“There are 24,000 peo­ple at Mcgill so clearly 160 peo­ple at the GA are not the ma­jor­ity. I would also like to point out the fact that to­day 160 peo­ple voted no for a direc­tor only for one rea­son, be­cause he was Jewish. [...] At the moment, I rep­re­sent the mi­nor­ity in the stu­dent pol­i­tics but I ac­tu­ally rep­re­sent the ma­jor­ity at Mcgill. I’m sick and tired of the GAS be­ing seen as the ma­jor­ity.”

Pe­dram re­sponded, “Yes, this body isn’t the ma­jor­ity of stu­dents, but it still rep­re­sents stu­dents who care.”

Due to a fail­ure on be­half of SSMU Pres­i­dent Muna To­ji­boeva to no­tify the pub­lic of dead­lines for sub­mit­ting mo­tions, all of the mo­tions were sent in late.

The group had left in order to protest the vote against Lew, which they per­ceived to be mo­ti­vated by anti-semitism.

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