MSU Presidential Candidate Platform Critique: Luca Bernardini
Bernardini's campaign succeeds in addressing a wide scope of student issues, but some platform points are reminiscent of current MSU initiatives and would benefit from further research
While McMaster Students Union presidential candidate Luca Bernardini’s platform succeeds in addressing a wide range of student issues and proposes innovative technological additions to student life, some platform points are reminiscent of current MSU initiatives and would benefit from further research. Additionally, many of Bernardini's claims are not proven to be reflective of the student body, while others are not differentiable from his fellow candidates.
Throughout his platform, Bernardini justifies the importance of an issue with his own opinion. An example of this is in his descriptions of TwelvEighty Bar and Grill and his justifications for it requiring renovation. Bernardini stated that students do not realize that TwelvEighty offers quality food items due to its “bleak” and “lacking” atmosphere.
Bernardini went on to state that TwelvEighty serves considerably higher quality dishes than any other place on campus “except for the Phoenix”. The metric Bernardini is using to decide these claims is unclear.
When asked to elaborate in an interview with the Silhouette, Bernardini did not mention performing any student-wide surveys or outreach initiatives to gauge the consensus of the student body on these claims. Bernardini also did not offer statistics of TwelvEighty sales or student interaction; however, he did state that the general claim that TwelvEighty is one of the least profitable MSU services can be corroborated by several of his consultations, including current MSU president and fellow 2024 presidential candidate, Jovan Popovic.
The Silhouette reached out to Popovic to confirm this statement. He replied that pre-pandemic, TwelvEighty was recorded as losing money in the MSU budget records; however, Popovic did not confirm the current financial state of TwelvEighty.
It should be noted that TwelvEighty has seen significant turnover with management in recent years, making it difficult to cast large blanket statements on the state of the service. It would have benefited Bernardini’s platform to have confirmed that his personal opinions are indeed echoed by the general student body.
Some of Bernardini’s platform points, including TwelvEighty renovations and the return of on-campus homecoming are reminiscent of initiatives by current MSU President Popovic. When asked about this, Bernardini shared that some of his ideas were sparked by consultations with Popovic and he was unaware that he would be running for re-election.
“A lot of the times that [Popovic and I] were discussing TwelvEighty, he brought it up to me and was like "Whoever is the president needs to do this,". . .Obviously, not knowing that he was going to run, we may have some overlap in ideas, but this was something we discussed together," said Bernardini.
Bernardini’s most significant proposal is the implementation of a new MSU app. The app will perform many functions, one of which is utilizing artificial intelligence to create personalized feeds based on student profiles.
Bernardini consulted with several individuals on the feasibility of the MSU app, including MSU General Manager John McGowan and MSU Marketing and Communications Director Michael Wooder. Bernardini promises in his platform that if elected, the app will be ready by September 2024.
Bernardini was asked in his interview about who he consulted with that had knowledge of programming, AI and the technological side of app development. Bernardini confirmed that a colleague of his is well versed in this field and they have worked together in the past. He was unable to provide details of this individual, including their credentials or their last name.
“He’s a developer I worked with in the past, because I co-founded a software to provide mental health support for student athletes back in high school . . .this individual was the one who developed it for us, we paid him, so he’s someone I can trust . . . I don’t have his last name,” said Bernardini.
Bernardini also made it clear that he won't be bringing his colleague in to develop the app. He instead will hand the responsibility over to the MSU's IT team; however, he did not have the capacity to consult with them directly.
Bernardini frequently referenced his experience as the President of the McMaster Science Society to support the feasibility of his proposed MSU initiatives. For example, Bernardini proposed an equity, diversity, inclusion, Indigeneity and accessibility review in the MSU. Bernardini referenced a similar initiative he carried out in the MSS that was met with success.
Bernardini was asked in an interview if he consulted with representatives from marginalized or minority communities to better understand current EDIIA practices in the MSU. He spoke at length about his initiatives and the consultations with marginalized communities that he performed during his MSS presidency, but did not comment on any specific research done for his current MSU campaign.
When Bernardini was asked if he spoke with MSU Diversity + Equity Network, the Pride Community Centre, Maccess or any other individual or service that would be able to comment on the current state of EDIIA practices within the MSU, Bernardini stated "I didn't get a chance to chat with someone from there."
Overall, Bernardini's campaign spans a broad scope of student issues and introduces novel technological solutions. A lack of research into student perspective and repetition of past MSU initiatives weakens the validity of his platform points.
Voting for the MSU presidential election takes place from Jan. 23 to Jan. 25 using the Simply Voting platform. More information about the election can be found on the MSU Elections website.