Platform critique: Leanne Winkels
Leanne Winkels' candidacy is about breaking barriers in accessibility, integration and community, a platform that she’s built with research and discussion from students’ perspectives. While these three pillars see common issues that McMaster students face in general, the majority of these points seem to be lacking of tangible change and ambition.
Taking her platform pillar “Breaking Down Community Barriers”, into consideration, Winkels focuses on student space as a main priority by advocating for accessible student lounge space on campus for the Society of Off-Campus Students and the general student body.
With well over 25,000 full-time students at McMaster, the lack of both student lounge and study space is definitely a prominent issue on campus.
However, the issue of space on campus has been addressed by presidential candidates for the past decade, and is currently in motion through different capacities, including the Athletics & Recreation and Student Activity Building Referendum that is being voted upon during this election season and the construction of the Living and Learning Centre.
If the Athletics & Recreation and Student Activity Building Referendum passes, students could see the either expansion of the Pulse and a new Student Activity Building come to fruition. Proposed by current president Justin Monaco-Barnes and vice president (Finance) Ryan MacDonald, the referendum sees two options, with one being exclusively the expansion of the Pulse, while the other seeing both the expansion alongside of the construction of the Student Activity Building.
Further, the construction of the Living and Learning Centre, to be completed by 2019, sees 12 storeys and 359,000 square feet of multipurpose student space. The building, being constructed on the site of T-28 and T-29 will consist of eight floors of student residences while the remaining floors are to be used as new classrooms and student activity/lounge spaces.
As these proposed projects come with thousands of square feet of student space, it seems rather redundant to use student space as a running point. Winkels' platform website addresses the fact that the issue is already being tackled, but does not provide further information regarding Winkels' plan to rectify the lack of space on campus or put a solid plan into place.
The position of the MSU president comes with the ability to bring forward larger issues and to put more visionary ideas into action. While Winkels' platform points look good on paper and are easily attainable within a presidency, these same points fail to bring tangible change to McMaster. By running on campaign points that are already in motion and pursuing general issues that the McMaster student body faces, Winkels fails to see the bigger picture, and is ultimately lacking ambition in planning long-term goals.