Written by Aaron Gao
Edited by Antonia Kleineidam
This week’s Congress meeting saw all members in attendance as well as Natasha Yang, who is an executive of Jam for Justice Marianopolis—a club of music enthusiasts that hold jam sessions to raise awareness about social injustice throughout the world.
The meeting began with Coordinator of External Affairs Laurence Liang introducing Jam for Justice’s mission, as well as the intercollegiate jam session he was planning on organizing near the end of the month. So far, Dawson has shown interest in participating. Although the event was initially aiming to address indigenous issues, Congress decided to broaden its scope to cover all social justice topics. The potential locations Laurence scouted out, including Place-des-Arts metro station, were all deemed to be unsuitable for the jam session. He therefore proposed organizing it in a room at Marianopolis. However, Natasha pointed out that holding the event in a classroom would present logistical complexities due to the small number of power outlets. A larger room would be necessary.
President Aria Khiabani stressed the importance of being adequately prepared for the event, which would also allow other Cegeps to get involved, though Laurence did not want to delay the jam session too much. Thus, Coordinator of Social Justice Darya Jabbari suggested merging Jam for Justice’s event with the Poetry Night, since both share a social justice theme.
Regarding the Poetry Night organized by the Social Justice Committee, a date has yet to be determined. It is unlikely the event will happen at the Shaika Café, which has been booked full. Coordinator of Student Advocacy Michael Chalkhoun suggested Anticafe Montreal near Place-des-Arts as a possible alternative.
Darya is also currently planning the Self-Love Workshops, which will feature Jack.org, the Vegan Club, yoga sessions, and a stress management clinic. Coordinator of Charities and Volunteering Cherry Sun is preparing a Congress booth that will focus on confidence and mood. Goody bags will be distributed to participants.
Coordinator of Internal Affairs Misha Fotovati then introduced the final draft of the Memorandum of Agreement, a project started by Aria during his 2018-2019 mandate in Misha’s current position. She raised two areas of uncertainty related to dispute resolution procedures: the first being with Student Services and the second, with the administration. Aria proposed holding a meeting between a member of Student Services and a member of Congress who are not involved in the conflict to find a solution to the point of contention. Similarly, for the administration, Misha stated that they wished for an amicable and less bureaucratic method. Aria suggested simply meeting in person to clarify the issue, and Michael proposed having a neutral third party, like a member of Student Services, act as a mediator. Student Life Animator Trudy Ste-Croix agreed.
VP of Finance Amanda Morrone and Michael then raised the issue of the administration being able to view Congress’s financial records. However, they recognized that this clause would act as a token of good faith. Trudy also pointed out that any member of the MSU may request Congress’s financial records at any time during the school year.
The Memorandum will be the first formalized, written agreement outlining Congress and the College’s relationship since accreditation. Congress is hoping to make it accessible to all MSU members after the signing. This should happen in the coming weeks, although it would have to be done with the College’s approval.
Next, Congress deliberated on whether to move forward with Major Group’s proposed insurance policy, initially split on this subject. A motion to hold a referendum among MSU members to gauge their interest failed one against eight, with four abstentions. The opt-out nature of the plan and the company’s refusal to offer an opt-in alternative were the most significant concerns. Andrew said that the opt-out system was possibly a strategy to capitalize on students who are unaware of this arrangement or indifferent to paying the $40 to $50 per semester fee. Furthermore, a previous survey aiming to measure students’ insurance priorities had a low participation rate and most students are already covered by health, dental, and accident insurance.
Misha then reported that Wayne agreed to a locker decorating contest for the holiday season. This was a popular initiative at her high school. Decorations will not be required to be religious and can be of any kind, as long as they are removed afterwards and do not leave any tape residue.
Afterwards, Amanda and Aria presented the results of their meeting with the bank representative responsible for the Congress account, who suggested that Congress invest in a variable GIC savings account with an interest rate between 1 and 1.5 percent since Congress has substantial funds that have been stable for the past four years. The account has a 30-day term and a minimum withdrawal of $1000. Congress’s operating funds, including club funds, would remain unaffected in its chequing account. The sum that will be invested into the account—which has yet to be decided—will act as a safety net in cases of emergency or insolvency. Guidelines based on past Congresses’ practices will be put in place to prevent inappropriate spending.
As part of the Movember movement, Andrew has planned a free barbershop from 11 AM to 3 PM next Tuesday. The barbers will be from Wilde Cutting Club on Sherbrooke. Other activities proposed were a campaign shedding light on toxic masculinity and setting up a booth at the Self-Love Workshops.
Finally, Trudy has contacted Blue Ribbon to ask for more therapy dogs to come during the final examination period.
This wraps up a very fruitful Congress meeting. Until next time!