GSVP Passed, Fee Debated
Report from the eventful Oct 11 SSMU Legislative Council
On October 11, SSMU held its third Legislative Council meeting of the year. During the meeting, many important topics were debated among councillors. After many guest presentations, the first issue addressed concerns over former VP External Marina Cupido’s controversial election post. In their October 2 statement on the official SSMU VP External Affairs Facebook page, Cupido wrote that the newly elected CAQ is a “xenophobic, racist, far- right government with ties to white supremacists.” They also highlighted that the CAQ “campaigned on the discrimination against racialized people, immigrants and refugees.” People criticized Cupido for using extreme terms like “far- right” to represent the newly elected provincial government. This post caused controversy because there was trouble differentiating Cupido’s personal position and SSMU’S, notably because the post had to have been accepted by someone else at SSMU before being published.
In the hours preceding the Legislative Council meeting, a new statement was published as a follow-up on the aforementioned Facebook account indicating that Cupido’s post had been recently deleted because “phrased as it was, [it] did not accurately reflect the views of our current team.” SSMU stated that the CAQ’S new policies “will limit the financial accessibility of education, pursue the exploitation of fossil fuels without addressing the impending climate crisis, cut immigration, and discriminate against already-marginalized communities based on their religious expression.” According to the mock poll conducted by Elections SSMU, the student body is expressively aware of these issues, with only 6.3% voting in favor of the CAQ, sitting in fourth place behind the Green Party, Quebec Solidaire, and the Liberal Party. This second post, in direct response to the controversy caused by the former, presents SSMU’S first official stance on the negative impacts this new majority government will have on a large portion of the student population of Mcgill University. This delicate dynamic only raised more questions as to the possible link between the controversial post and Cupido’s sudden resignation on October 9, a decision SSMU claims was due to “mental health concerns.”
Discussions on the topic concluded and moved on to the motions up for approval, the most critical of which regarding the adoption of a new Gendered and Sexual Violence Policy (GSVP), which was unanimously supported by everyone present at the meeting. This new policy aims to fill the gap in the original implementation guide that leaves out many essential technicalities. These gaps have resulted in recent failures with regards to dealing with sexual violence cases within the Union. In 2016-2017 two SSMU executives committed acts of sexual violence against twelve undergraduate students. The victims of these actions had no possible recourse for seeking help within SSMU, as the original GSVP didn’t account for cases in which executives are the perpetrators of these violent acts. The new policy considers these shortcomings by providing “an intersectional and survivor-- centric approach to sexual harassment, gendered violence and sexual violence within the SSMU community and applied to the SSMU context.”
The motion was drafted in large part by Bee Khaleeli, a U3 Arts student dedicated to helping victims of abuse. In the policy, Khaleeli emphasizes the need to implement measures to prevent acts of violence and support victims using an approach that prevents re-traumatization. Even though councillors were on board with these proposed measures, the biggest talking point of the motion revolved around providing the resolution with the appropriate funding. SSMU VP Finance Jun Wang stressed that the operating budget for the 20182019 academic has already been approved, and funds to implement the GSVP would have to be sourced elsewhere. It was agreed upon that a fee levy is the best solution for the short-term until a place can be made for the new policy in the budget. On Oct 18, council voted to reexamine the fee levy. The amended motion was consequently approved unanimously.
The meeting drew to a close with talks about renaming the Mcgill men’s varsity team. The proposed motion aims to rename the team since the current “R*dmen” is an offensive and oppressive slur against Indigenous peoples. The opposition to this motion lies in both current and alumni varsity athletes claiming that the “R*dmen” name is an integral part of their identity. After much debate, the motion was eventually passed and the question will be up to Mcgill students to vote on at the next General Assembly.
The need to implement measures to prevent acts of violence and support victims using an approach that prevents retraumatization is emphasized in the new [Gendered and Sexual Violence Policy] policy.
According to the mock poll conducted by Elections SSMU, the student body is expressively aware of the issues [the CAQ poses], with only 6.3% voting in favor of the CAQ, sitting in fourth place behind the Green Party, Quebec Solidaire, and the Liberal Party.
Cupido’s post [was] deleted because “phrased as it was, [it] did not accurately reflect the views of [the] current [SSMU] team.”
Bee Khaleeli pictured at Legislative Council