MSU Presidential Candidate Platform Overview: Jovan Popovic
Campaigning for re-election, Popovic's platform focuses on alleviating food and housing insecurity while improving student life on campus
Current McMaster Students Union President Jovan Popovic is running for re-election for this year’s election, with a large and diverse platform covering a range of issues. In his written campaign statement, Popovic expressed his commitment to help alleviate the stress of rising food and housing costs, improve student events and recreational services on campus and advocating for increased transparency, improved transit for commuter students and for changes to McMaster’s policies on the use of generative artificial intelligence.
Alleviate stress of rising living costs
Recognizing that many students are facing the strain of the rising cost of food, Popovic proposes to initiate a program that would serve complimentary soup and bread to students four days a week from noon to 2:00 p.m. throughout the school year.
Popovic states in his platform that the program would be able to serve between 75,000 and 95,000 portions throughout the year. To fund the initiative, Popovic plans to hold a referendum to instate what he believes is a “modest” five dollar increase in student union fees.
To address the rising cost of housing and the greater and greater difficulty students face in finding housing, Popovic has the goal of advocating for and bringing McMaster to commit to halting further increases in the student population. Popovic also has pledged to lobby the federal government to provide Hamilton with financial assistance to build more housing, via the housing accelerator fund.
Improve student events
In light of this past year’s order from the university for students to not attend homecoming parties in neighbourhoods surrounding campus, Popovic has promised to ensure the first university-approved on-campus homecoming event next September — the first since 2019.
Popovic has stated in his platform that both McMaster University President David Farrar and Hamilton Ward 1 councillor Maureen Wilson have expressed to him strong support for this plan. Plans for the return of homecoming include having food trucks, community vendors, live performers and a late night concert.
Recognizing that McMaster sports teams and the Department of Athletics and Recreation currently face financial constraints, Popovic has stated he intends to assist sports teams and recreational clubs by establishing a new line of funding to assist such groups. In an interview, it was elaborated that this funding would specifically be used to provide venues for team and club events at reduced or no cost.
Further aiming to empower and improve athletics on campus, Popovic has indicated his plans to improve the ability of student athletes and sports teams to make their concerns heard and known. A specific and detailed plan has not been included as to how to achieve this end, but Popovic refers to making use of the Varsity Leadership Committee and forming “new communication channels for athletes” in his platform statement.
Aiming to improve opportunities for social events and outings on campus, Popovic proposes extending the hours of TwelvEighty Bar and Grill to be open until at least 10:00 p.m. Additionally, Popovic envisions TwelvEighty continuing to serve as a restaurant throughout the day, while serving as a bar during the extended late hours.
Furthermore, Popovic proposes the introduction of game day specials at the venue, such as half-price wings, on days when sport games are being played. This initiative, along with having more nights dedicated for hosting club events, looks to increase the attractiveness of TwelvEighty as a social hub for students.
Increase MSU transparency
An apparent lack of transparency and communication between students and the MSU, as well as students' awareness of the MSU, is one critical area in which the current president outlines significant improvement is required. Popovic has proposed a restructuring of the MSU’s media team, while taking inspiration from Brock University Student Union.
The proposed plan to improve communication and student awareness involved creating three student positions to create and post content on the MSU’s media platforms, which would rotate shifts throughout the week. Popovic elaborated in an interview that the idea behind the rotational roles is to improve the quality of content produced by having a more diverse team of student employees that can better achieve the work together and engage with students more frequently.
Advocate for improved transit
To improve transportation for students who commute, Popovic aims to collaborate with Metrolinx to both increase GO bus route frequency and expand routes. Popovic also has stated an intention to work with McMaster Parking Services to devise solutions to improve availability and affordability of parking for students who commute.
Meanwhile, to improve mobility for students nearby and across campus, Popovic endorses holding a referendum to enact a bike pass program to increase the number of bikes on campus and make them more affordable to use.
Change to McMaster's AI policy
Lastly, Popovic has outlined that he believes McMaster’s current stance on and policies regarding the use of generative AI in academic work is too restrictive and vague. He has indicated his intention to advocate for the university to improve clarity in its written AI policies and to argue for the loosening of restrictions on the use of AI by students.
Overall, Popovic's platform is an extensive one that aims to improve student life by addressing food and housing insecurity, and improving transparency, transportation and social and extracurricular experiences on campus.
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.