Students' Society of McGill University

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The Student's Society of McGill University or SSMU for short is the student union for all McGill undergraduate students.

Founded 1902
Location William Shatner Building, 3480 McTavish St., Montreal, Quebec H3A 1X9


SSMU was predated by the Alma Mater Society, which was in 1902-1903. The Society, however, had little responsibility and resources. SSMU was founded in 1908 by the McGill Debating Union. It was recognized as students' official representative body in the following year.

McGill University began its existence with the Faculty of Medicine in 1829 and the Faculty of Arts in 1843. However, not until the beginning of the 1900s was there an association on campus to provide representation and social events for students. Before this time there were no dances, no debating societies, and no government lobbying organizations. The demands for such an organization began to increase with the growth of student-led activities at the turn of the century.

In 1902-1903, the Alma Mater Society was born. Although it promoted activities and some publications, the Society had little responsibility and even less money. It was in 1908 that the Students' Society of McGill University was born. The following year, it was recognized as the single representative body for students at McGill.

The Society was first established in order to coordinate the undergraduate activities of the university. In the words of John T. Hackett, the first President of the Students' Society: "Like most new forms of Government its 'raison d'être' was found in abuses. The students had been brought into disrepute with the public. Their failure to meet their creditors in undergraduate enterprises, and their apparent acquiescence in the charges of vandalism which were periodically brought against them, rendered absolute the necessity of reform." The solution was the Students' Society and its executive body, the Students' Executive Council.

Although McGill University began to admit its first female students in 1884, women were not members of the SSMU until 1931. They had a parallel organization called the Women's Union. In 1965, SSMU had its first female president; Sharon Sholzberg.

Following the founding congress of UGEQ in November 1964, the SSMU executive voted to leave the Canadian Union of Students and join UGEQ in late 1965. Two referendums to join UGEQ were defeated over the 1965-66 university year. In early 1967, SSMU finally joined UGEQ in a successful referendum. The move was deemed controversial among some English Canadians who saw UGEQ as a radical, separatist student union. The 1966-67 CUS President, Doug Ward, encouraged McGill students to join UGEQ since CUS no longer had any other members in Quebec.

The SSMU grew and evolved after its inception. Its role expanded to include several clubs, to offer services, and to care for the University Centre (consisting at the time of a pub and a cafeteria). As enrollment increased throughout the century, so did students' demands. The association took steps to ensure its effectiveness. This included enlarging its Executive Council and creating new positions for students. As social issues on campus became more important and more complex, the SSMU demanded the right to represent students to the university administration. After many student protests, it finally got the opportunity to do so in 1968, by obtaining seats on the Board of Governors and the Senate.

What Does SSMU Do?

SSMU's general goal is to speak out and advocate for the the interests of McGill undergrads. On the local university levels, SSMU represents students to the McGill administration. They work hard for fairer academic justice processes, better quality instruction, and better services for students. On the broader level, SSMU strongly advocates for accessible quality public education. They were founded in 1908 and are currently located in the William Shatner Building

SSMU Funds

SSMU has a wide variety of funds available to students or EUS groups. A few examples include travel funds to attend conferences of competitions, sustainability funds and funds for first year student out reach. For a complete list of funds see SSMU Funds.


SSMU Legislative Council

The EUS is represented to SSMU through their legislative council. Two SSMU Reps, elected by engineering undergraduate, sit on both EUS Council and SSMU Legislative Council. They advocate the interests of engineering students while legislating at the SSMU level.

The McGill Senate

EUS is represented to the the McGill administration through the Engineering Senator. The Engineering Senator is part of the SSMU Caucus which is a group of all the senators that represent faculties. SSMU works with this caucus to advocate the interests of students as whole to the McGill administration.