MSU Presidential Candidate Platform Critique: Jeffrey Xu
While Xu’s campaign is ambitious, his platform points lack feasibility and rely heavily on information from Reddit
McMaster Student Union presidential candidate Jeffrey Xu claims to prioritize issues that affect students’ daily lives and making promises that he can fulfill. However, his platform lacks consideration of costs or other feasibility constraints and his understanding of the McMaster University community is heavily influenced by Reddit.
Improving Centro Food
Xu explained that his primary platform point, improving Centro food, was based on Reddit posts he had seen about students finding raw chicken in their food. He clarified that he intended to improve food safety regulations, rather than the quality of the food itself.
Despite the emphasis that Xu placed on improving Centro food, he did not provide details, either in his platform or his interview with the Silhouette, about how he would fulfill this goal. Further, Xu admitted that he had not consulted with McMaster Hospitality Services, the department that oversees Centro, on the feasibility of the plan.
When asked if he used supplementary information, such as research on food safety violations, to corroborate evidence from Reddit posts, Xu maintained that he solely used Reddit to inform his campaign policies.
“My campaign is 100 per cent run based on what I saw on Reddit. I use other social media but Reddit is my main one. So that's what I [based campaign points] off of,” said Xu.
Chris Roberts, director of Hospitality Services, addressed Xu’s concerns in an interview with the Silhouette.
“We have, for many years, had a very clean record with the [Hamilton] Department of Health. We have a very close relationship with them. We have no issues. At Centro, we do get the odd complaint. We investigate those complaints to resolve them. There's nothing outstanding right now,” said Roberts.
Though adherence to food safety regulations is important, Xu’s platform lacks research beyond Reddit, details on plan execution and meaningful assessments of feasibility.
Extending Library Times
Xu’s second platform point was to extend library times, especially during exam seasons. The Silhouette interviewed Lynne Serviss and Anne Pottier, associate university librarians, about the feasibility of this plan.
Serviss and Portier explained that library spaces are available for students for 24 hours each day during the entirety of the exam period.
When asked if he knew about the 24-hour library times during exam season, Xu stated that he was not aware that it existed.
“Really? I didn't even know that . . . Because for some reason, I felt like I saw a Reddit post about how [libraries] were closed during exams and [students] needed studying time. That's good,” said Xu.
Xu explained that he wants to extend regular library hours outside of exams as well. He admitted that he had not substantially considered the feasibility of extending regular library hours or associated additional costs.
Thuss, Xu’s focus on library services lacks planning and consideration for feasibility. Further, Xu’s misunderstanding of library hours displays his platform’s potential for misinformation, due to his reliance on Reddit and lack of fact-checking.
Increasing Transparency in the MSU
Xu advocated for a system to allow users on Reddit to vote on large MSU budgetary decisions, reasoning that he would not know how popular a decision would be unless it was discussed on Reddit.
When asked about the possibility of non-McMaster individuals voting on recommendations for budget cuts, Xu admitted that he had not considered that factor. He suggested implementing McMaster’s SimplyVoting system on the subreddit, to ensure that only current McMaster students can vote.
The feasibility of this plan was not discussed by Xu. Additionally, his plan to solely use Reddit does not account for whether the Reddit community is representative of all McMaster students.
Financial Allocations in the MSU
Xu also proposed budget cuts to the MSU, stating that there were unnecessary services funded by students. Xu plans to fund services that he sees student interest in on Reddit, such as the Ombuds Office and the Student Wellness Centre, while cutting services that he does not see as a priority for students, such as 93.3 CFMU.
Additionally, Xu proposed increasing club funding to cover expenses such as travel and he criticized the MSU administration for slow communication and issues with the distribution of locker space.
However, Xu's plans lack concrete details and feasibility considerations. He also admitted that he did not consult with the MSU administration.
Though Xu’s platform has ambitious goals, his campaign is catered solely to students that use Reddit, a population that does not include nor represent all McMaster students. While Reddit is a valuable platform for students to voice their concerns, Xu’s sole reliance on Reddit has resulted in a lack of fact-checking, assessing feasibility and consulting with the university.