MSU Elections 2022: Simranjeet Singh platform critique
C/O Simranjeet Singh
Simranjeet’s Singh’s platform offers an ambitious number of ideas to various issues
With a whooping 26 platform points, Singh brings forth a myriad of solutions to pressing issues, but not without question of feasibility. Singh’s platform hinges on extensive collaboration with numerous organizations within McMaster University and the city of Hamilton.
Singh proposes to increase the Student Wellness Center’s collaboration with a variety of McMaster Students Union groups and clubs by creating a Student Wellness Centre Advisory Committee. It would serve as a hub for student leaders to communicate their findings and concerns to the SWC.
However, current services of the MSU already connect with students through peer support services. The creation of such a committee poses a question of redundancy given that volunteers of these services can already direct students to specific resources, such as the SWC.
Furthermore, Singh looks to increase the number of group counselling sessions and operating hours of the SWC and to allow students access these services outside of working hours.
Rosanne Kent, the director of the SWC, confirmed Singh had consulted with her regarding this and that his goal is indeed achievable. In fact, the SWC has already been slowly increasing capacity through this academic year with the intent to bring back pre-COVID-19 service in the future.
Building a Stronger Community
While Singh’s desire to collaborate with Metrolinx to expand bussing and reintroduce cancelled express bus routes may be ideal to reduce student commute times, Singh does not detail any consultation with Metrolink to address the feasibility of these changes. These bus routes were likely cancelled due to reduced student ridership because of online classes and the trajectory of McMaster’s reopening remains uncertain in this current climate of the pandemic.
Singh has communicated with John McGowan, general manager of the MSU, about ensuring that bus services are reflective of student needs once students return to campus. McGowan stated that he believes his goal is achievable.
He also hopes to encourage Metrolinx to fast track the development of the Hamilton light-rail transit line. Given that the development of the LRT line is dependent on a host of other stakeholders whose schedules differ from that of students’, Singh has not provided detail as to how actionable this goal can be.
The feasibility of Singh’s goal to introduce student discounts to a significant number of local Hamilton businesses also raises questions given that the actual implementation of this is dependent on the businesses’ desire to do so.
Singh wishes to lead a large-scale study to determine average rental prices, student experiences with off campus housing and use those findings to better inform students of their rights as tenants and advocate for a better housing market. He consulted with McMaster’s associate vice provost, Kim Dej, who expressed support for this study.
However, despite the support from Dej, Singh fails to mention how this goal would accomplish something different from the resources already offered to McMaster students.
Many of Singh’s suggestions under environmental sustainability are already undertaken by the university on a regular basis with community partners. For example, Singh’s proposal to work with Hospitality Services to reduce food waste and address student food insecurity is addressed by the student-run MSU Food Collective Centre with non-profit projects. Hospitality Services are also aiming to increase its purchasing of local produce.
Singh’s suggestion to collaborate with the Office of Sustainability to develop a waste management strategy to audit the total amount of waste produced on campus within a year is an ambitious idea. However, such an audit might not be an accurate reflection of McMaster’s waste production given possible reduced student and staff presence on campus amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, this would require a close partnership with the city of Hamilton. Singh has not stated if he has consulted anyone with the city.
Creating More Equitable Education
Singh's suggestion of a provincial tuition freeze with the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance does not consider that the MSU and the OUSA already officially hold the position of freezing tuition.
He hopes to advocate for a province-wide initiative that will support university funding through avenues outside of the pockets of students themselves. Singh plans to work with the MSU vice president of education given the VP’s delegatory position at OUSA meetings. He has consulted the current VP Education, Siobhan Teel, who expressed support for Singh’s idea. However, Singh’s platform does not provide further elaboration on how this funding will be acquired.
Singh’s desire to advocate for reduced textbook costs by replacing them with Online Educational Resources is valuable as a means of encouraging more equitable education. He has conversed with associate vice provost Kim Dej, who stated that introducing more OER options is feasible.
However, Singh points out that McMaster lacks OER funding. He plans to introduce student research assistant positions to support the development of OERs but does not clarify whether there is adequate funding to do so.
Career Development Support
Singh’s suggestion to create more opportunities to aid students in their career development with the creation of services that aid in resume writing and applications are already offered by the university’s Human Resources Services. McMaster provides networking opportunity events in the form of Volunteer Fairs as well as many career events hosted throughout the year by the Student Success Centre and student-run clubs such as the McMaster Undergraduate Research in Science Association.
Singh has extensive ideas; however, his platform would benefit from further clarification as to how his approaches will differentiate themselves from many of the services already at works within McMaster.