Here's what you missed from the 2023 MSU all-candidates debate
Candidates addressed a wide range of issues on campus in the hour and a half debate all the way from safe housing to restrictive bylaws
The MSU presidential debate on Tuesday, Jan. 24 gave candidates the opportunity to advocate for their platforms while critiquing others.
During the opening statements, Sam Bovey stated that he was resigning from the race and exited the stage.
Abbott discussed increasing club funding and student engagement, while Xu prioritized improving Centro’s chicken and funding clubs based on need, size and his own preference. Popovic discussed improving student life and creating an entertainment venue for sports. Thorne planned to solve climate change and expand the Willy Dog empire.
Candidates also discussed plans to address the rising cost of tuition and associated costs such as food and school supplies. Abbott and Popovic planned to take advantage of grants and funding opportunities, while Thorne proposed to expand the Willy Dog empire. Xu advocated for abolishing money and instead using a bartering system to trade textbooks, and he admitted to not having a plan to deal with increasing tuition costs.
Environmental Sustainability in the MSU and McMaster
Thorne proposed to bring back Lake McMaster, a large puddle of water that occurs after heavy snowfall melts, by clogging sewer drains. He also advocated for bringing the environment indoors by increasing the number of waterfall rooms on campus.
Xu stated that he did not initially consider the environment in his campaign and proposed to completely ban all plastic from Centro and solely use reusable containers.
Abbott expressed opposition to McMaster’s plan to build natural gas-powered electrical generators in Cootes Drive and supported banning plastics on campus. He also advocated for the city to stop dumping into Cootes, referring to Watergate
Popovic aimed to discuss the upcoming University Master Plan, set to be released this Spring, with the McMaster administration, and he planned to hold McMaster accountable for their claims in the plan.
Candidates were asked about their plans to address concerns of students involving off-campus housing. The question referenced a new pilot bylaw, the Rental House Licensing Pilot Program, but Thorne, Xu and Abbott stated that they were not familiar with it.
Popovic proposed to examine affordable student housing plans at other schools, in order to understand and potentially implement new strategies.
Thorne recommended moving the entire campus to a virtual Metaverse.
Xu acknowledged that student housing was a problem but stated that he would not be in office long enough to address the issue and instead suggested admitting fewer students.
Abbott suggested consulting other universities to see how they were addressing housing concerns and wondered if current housing services could be utilized more effectively.
According to the new University District Safety Initiative, introduced by the City of Hamilton in 2022, students who hold large street parties or contribute to the obstruction of streets are subject to a fine of up to $25 000. Candidates were asked if they believed this bylaw is a necessary tool to discourage street parties during the fall season.
Popovic brought up how the nuisance bylaw had been heavily opposed by the MSU when it was introduced. Popovic also stated he was against the unreasonable fines and intense police presence.
Thorne initially mistook the question as a question about parking on campus, and suggested moving Lot M closer to campus. In his rebuttal Thorne corrected himself and said in terms of partying, he would move all homecoming parties to Lot M.
Xu, like Thorne, mistook this as a parking question, but he later said that he does not support the bylaw and would consult with students on Reddit.
Abbott said it was clear the bylaw did not stop students from partying in the streets, and he argued that the MSU should engage with the city in a more constructive way.
On current mental health initiatives, candidates agreed that there are many good resources on campus to aid in mental health, but students are not aware of what is available to them. The general consensus was that the MSU should aid students in being more informed of what they have access to at McMaster.
Students can vote for their preferred candidates from Jan. 24 to Jan. 26 up until 5:00 p.m. For more information on this year’s candidates, see the Silhouette’s platform overviews and critiques. To learn more about the elections, visit msumcmaster.ca/elections.