General Assemblies are held at least once a semester and are open to all SSMU members (one person, one vote). For the most part, the legislative power of a General Assembly is equal to that of Council. This means that a General Assembly may approve, modify or rescind resolutions, policies, and bylaws. However, a GA cannot affect policy pertaining to the SSMU’s Constitution, the financial matters of the Society or the composition of the Society’s staff.
You can view the results of many past GA motions as well as various resources related to the GA at the General Assemblies Official Website.
There are currently three types of General Assembly:
- Regular GAs: They happen once a term, are publicised by the society, and students can submit items for the agenda two weeks ahead with the signatures of either 4 councillors or 100 members of the society, so long as less than half of the signatures are from one faculty or school. Quorum is 100 members, with a maximum of half from any given faculty or school.
- Special GAs: They are requested by 200 members (again, no school or faculty may represent 50% or more of the signatures), or 8 councillors, with representation of 4 faculties or schools, for a specific issue, but quorum is the same as for Regular GAs.
- Strike GAs: They are treated separately because of the last strike GA in March 2004 which put the SSMU on strike for a day in support of the campaign for returning 103 million dollars transferred from bursary funds to loans in Quebec Student Financial Aid. They are requested the same way as Special GAs but require the attendance of 500 members for quorum, again with less than half counted from one Faculty or School.
Past General Assemblies
GA Motion-Accessible Education| French Version
GA Motion-Student Consultation in Re-Appointment of the Deputy Provost of Student Life and Learning | French Version
GA Motion-Regarding Support of Workers Struggles | French Version
GA Motion-Democratic Reform of the SSMU Board of Directors | French Version
GA Motion-Institutionalization and Documentation of SSMU Leadership for Sustainability | French Version
GA Agenda 2011-02-10 | French Version
GA Summary 2011-02-10
English | French
Resolution-SSMU Investments 2011-02-10 | French Version
Resolution-Biking on Campus 2011-02-1- | French Version
Resolution-Appointment of McKinsey & Co. as McGill’s Consultant Firm | French Version
Resolution-Use of the McGill Name by Clubs, Services, and ISGs of the SSMU | French Version
General Assembly Motions
Motions at General Assemblies can propose, amend, rescind, or uphold any policy of the Society. General Assemblies have, essentially, the powers of Council, with the exception of a few powers that are legally reserved for a Council or Board of Directors. These restrictions include budgetary questions and any matters of human resources. Similarly, amendments to the Constitution can only be made by means of a referendum, not council or GAs. As with anything the SSMU does, GA motions and proceedings are subject to appeal to the Judicial Board should they be thought unconstitutional by any SSMU member.
It is relatively straightforward to write a General Assembly motion, however, it is sometimes difficult to decide whether your issue concerns budgetary questions. Always consult with others, and work your motion into a form that addresses your concern, without stumbling into financial territory. Remember, if your motion passes it will give the SSMU Executives a mandate, and ultimately, it will be their responsibility to allocate funds to your cause.
Motions must also pertain to actions or policies under the purview of the SSMU. In cases where they are directed towards University policies, motions should call on the SSMU to take a specified stance or action, rather than demanding that the University take specific actions, as McGill is not bound by GA mandates.
Writing General Assembly Motions
First, let’s think about what exactly you want to do with your motion…Remember that your motion will be debated by dozens if not hundreds of people, so it is crucial that people clearly understand your motion’s goals, and what actions it will empower the Student Society to take. Motions should be short and to the point – 1/2 to a full page and all motions have a basic form:
- PREAMBLE: Optional background information (the preamble clause(s) should be concise, unbiased, and directly relevant to the resolutions);
- WHEREAS: The facts and arguments (the whereas clause(s) should be concise, unbiased, and directly relevant to the resolutions); and
- RESOLUTION: The action or policy proposed
Motions must also be in line with the SSMU Constitution, by-laws and policies (unless the motion directly alters one of these last two). Furthermore, motions should be grammatically correct (however, improper grammar can be corrected at any time without consequence).
Finally, motions should be as specific as possible and should, where possible direct the SSMU to take specific, as opposed to ideological or rhetorical, actions. Nevertheless, specificity of motions should not cause them to be ruled unconstitutional and outside the powers of a GA (see clause 29 of the Constitution). Further, motions should make exceptionally clear any potentially confusing statements, phrases or concepts, so as to avoid conflict, confusion and/or redrafting at the Assembly.
For more information, please click here to read a detailed description about how to write a General Assembly motion (2010).