Oct 30, 2012

SSMU GA motions ratified

13 per cent of undergraduates vote online

Bea Britneff

Last Thursday, the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) released the results for SSMU’s first online ratification period, in which students voted for motions passed at the Oct. 15 SSMU General Assembly (GA). Both motions were ratified—one calling for the installation of a bouldering wall in the SSMU Building, and the other regarding renaming the SSMU Breakout Room.

Introduced this fall, the online ratification process allows students to vote on motions passed at the GA. Through the Elections SSMU website, students could watch a video of debate on a motion at the GA and then vote on its ratification.

The voting period ran from Oct. 18 to 25. According to the Elections SSMU results webpage, 2,931 (13.3 per cent) of 21,975 eligible voters cast a ballot, exceeding the 10 per cent quorum.

SSMU President Josh Redel was pleased with the online voter turnout, considering that online ratification is a new practice.

“I think that for … the first time, the rate was decent,” Redel said. “I certainly hope more people will turn out in the future, both in person and online.”

The motion regarding the bouldering wall—a student initiative moved by members of the McGill Students’ Outdoors Club (MOC)—passed, with 79.2 per cent of voters in favour of the motion. According to MOC President Sarah Solnit and past president Mark Kojima, MOC has been working on the project since last March.

The motion proposed that SSMU install a bouldering wall that is “accessible in price and location to all McGill students” in the SSMU Building. According to Solnit, the volunteer-run wall will most likely be located in the sub-basement of SSMU, although the official location has yet to be decided. For now, MOC is focusing on getting funding and creating a design for the wall.

“We’re about to start working with SSMU’s Vice-President Operations [and] we’re currently working on getting external funding,” Solnit and Kojima wrote in an email to the Tribune. “The MOC will be responsible for the initial financing. We’ll also be covering the running costs—largely insurance—which we will accomplish through some sort of fee system.”

Solnit also shared MOC’s plan to keeping the bouldering wall accessible to McGill students.

“Right now, we’re looking at charging a very cheap yearly membership rate and a collective-style operation, and also having open rock climbing sessions and workshops for a nominal daily fee,” she wrote. “Our prices would be a small fraction of what you’d find anywhere else. We’d be a service, not a business.”

Solnit said MOC hopes to get the wall up and running for the Winter semester, if possible.

The motion regarding the SSMU Breakout Room passed with 81.3 per cent in favour and proposed that SSMU rename the Breakout Room to the ‘Madeleine Parent Room,’ after the Quebec labour leader, gender equity activist, feminist, and McGill graduate. Parent devoted her life to battling social injustices and is particularly famous for organizing textile workers in the 1940s. She passed away in March.

SSMU Vice-President External Robin Reid-Fraser said that no other names were considered for the room, and explained the reasoning for proposing Parent’s name.

“We felt that because Madeleine Parent was a particularly significant figure in the history of Quebec and Canada, and because she passed away so recently, she would be a suitable person to honour with this gesture,” she said.

Details surrounding the official renaming of the Breakout Room have not yet been announced.

In order to encourage higher participation rates at future GAs and during online voting, Redel expressed interest in pursuing some additional strategies, such as introducing a new style of GA report and having better publicity about the purpose and benefit of GAs.

The Oct. 15 GA lost quorum after passing the bouldering wall and Breakout Room motions. As a result, four additional motions—regarding SSMU opposition to Plan Nord, ethical investment at McGill, opposition to Canadian military involvement in Iran, and support for accessible education—were passed by the assembly as a consultative forum.

According to Redel, the next steps for these four motions will be discussed at the SSMU Council meeting this Thursday.

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