By: Elliot Fung

If you are a full-time undergraduate student enrolled in at least 18 units, you are eligible to vote in this year’s McMaster Students Union presidential election. Here is some more information about the election and how you can successfully cast your ballot.

What is the role of the McMaster Students Union president?

The president is the primary spokesperson for the MSU and serves as the representative for McMaster students to the university, Hamilton and the provincial and federal government.

The next MSU president will hold the position for a one-year term beginning on May 1, 2019 and ending on April 30, 2020.

The MSU president is also the chair of the board of directors of the Student Representative Assembly, which is comprised of the vice president (Finance), vice president (Administration) and vice president (Education).

 

How many candidates are running this year?

This year’s election has four candidates: Madison Wesley, Jeffrey Campana, Josh Marando and Justin Lee. More information about their platforms can be found here.

 

How will voting work?

The voting system will be “single transferable vote.” What this means is that, on your ballot, you will get to rank candidates in order of preference.

In particular, you will have the opportunity to rank your preference of candidate from one to four. However, you do not have to rank all candidates.

Your vote will count towards the candidate you rank first.

The candidate with a majority of total first choice votes will be the president-elect. If a majority is not achieved through the initial counting, the candidate with the least number of first-choice votes is eliminated.

However, if you voted for the eliminated candidate, your ballot still counts. Your vote will be transferred to your second-choice candidate. Votes are then recounted.

If a majority is still not achieved, the process of vote transfer is repeated until a candidate has a majority of first choice votes.

 

What would happen to my vote if a candidate gets disqualified?

Should a candidate be disqualified or withdraw from the election after polling takes place, your vote will still count too as long as you indicated a second-choice candidate.

In this case, your vote would be transferred to your second-choice candidate.

 

When does the voting period open and close?

Voting opens on Jan. 22 and closes on Jan. 24 at 5 p.m. Ballots are being sent out via email, so check your McMaster email as soon as you get the chance!

You can also vote at www.msumcmaster.ca/vote. Log in using your Mac ID and an election link will appear if you are eligible to vote.

 

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Photos by Kyle West

 

On Jan. 17, the McMaster Students’ Union hosted a debate featuring the 2019 MSU presidentials candidates four candidates. Here are some of the highlights.

The first question of the debate concerned whether the candidates are more focused on advocacy or student life.

Josh Marando said he would be more focused on advocacy.

Jeffery Campana explained that the limited one-year term of a president would mean smaller initiatives are more important to him.

A1: Campana: Platform aims to engage students to get them more involved; focuses on both advocacy points and student engagement. "I am more out for student engagement, but I don't sacrifice advocacy"

— The Silhouette (@theSilhouette) January 17, 2019

The debate quickly turned to Ontario government’s decision to restrict Ontario Student Assistance Program grants and make some student fees optional, a move that was announced the morning of the debate.

Madison Wesley pointed to the announcement as proof of why advocacy is central to the MSU president’s role. Justin Lee and the other candidates were also quick to condemn the new changes.

Q10: Campana - "The PC government is not for students like us". The option to opt out of student fees will cause a reduction of funding to services that the MSU needs in order to thrive.

— The Silhouette (@theSilhouette) January 17, 2019

When the topic reasserted itself later in the debate, Marando noted the need for students to be “prepared to mobilize.”

When candidates were asked to outline their main platform priority areas, Wesley pointed to the need for improved mental and physical health support systems, while Lee chose his “HSR Drivers Accountability” platform point.

Marando said he is focused on making students feel welcome, and Campana spoke about his plan to place free menstrual products in all-gender bathrooms.

On the subject of off-campus housing, all the candidates said they were in favour of the new MSU landlord rating system.

Marando pushed the need to continue supporting landlord licensing, while Wesley and Lee talked about continuing housing education programs for students.

The discussion became more heated when candidates were asked to critique an opponent’s platform point.

Marando pointed to the logistics of Campana’s on-campus ice rink proposal.

Campana, Lee and Wesley criticized Marando’s proposed increase of the maintenance budget and various advocacy goals.

A6: Wesley - Most critical of Marando's point on lobbying to freeze tuition. Previously, OSAP is a provincial legislation issue, problem is that there are entire groups of lobbyists that dedicate time to this and they haven't gotten very far.

— The Silhouette (@theSilhouette) January 17, 2019

One audience member asked how the candidates would increase campus safety.

Ideas ranged from Wesley’s call for improved police response to the need to upgrade lighting and fix emergency poles on campus, put forth by Campana and Lee, respectively.

A7: Wesley - Student safety big concern. Main issue is that Hamilton police have not been involved, advocating for students to Hamilton police important. If we have concrete advocacy coming from the school, we may be able to change a lot for the better.

— The Silhouette (@theSilhouette) January 17, 2019

When asked about sexual violence on campus, all of the candidates agreed that training for students, Welcome Week reps and staff needs improvement.

Marando pointed out that none of the other candidates’ platforms addressed sexual violence.

Campana countered by saying that the issue could not be fixed in a one-year term.

A11 Rebuttal: Campana - Didn't address the issue in his platform because it is not a problem that one president can fix. Several different groups across campus must be involved; it is not enough to put a "bandaid solution" on a platform

— The Silhouette (@theSilhouette) January 17, 2019

The candidates were also given the opportunity to explain what made them unique.

Marando cited his comprehensive MSU experience. Campana did the same while stressing his experiences outside the MSU.

While acknowledging their relative inexperience, Lee and Wesley stressed the creativity of their platform and noted that they represent the only ethnic minority candidate and only female candidate, respectively.

The full debate can be found on the MSU Facebook page.

 

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Photos by Kyle West

By: Ryan Tse, Hannah Walters-Vida, Natalie Clark

Click on the candidates to learn about their platform overviews.


Madison Wesley

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[button link="https://www.thesil.ca/msu-presidentials-2019-madison-wesley-platform-critique" color="red"] MADISON WESLEY PLATFORM CRITIQUE[/button]


Jeffrey Campana

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[button link="https://www.thesil.ca/msu-elections-2019-jeffrey-campana-platform-critique" color="red"] JEFFREY CAMPANA PLATFORM CRITIQUE[/button]


Josh Marando

[popup_anything id="36669"]

[button link="https://www.thesil.ca/msu-presidentials-2019-josh-marando-platform-critique" color="red"] JOSH MARANDO PLATFORM CRITIQUE[/button]


Justin Lee

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[button link="https://www.thesil.ca/msu-elections-2019-justin-lee-platform-critique" color="red"] JUSTIN LEE PLATFORM CRITIQUE[/button]


 

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On Jan. 11, McMaster Daily News published an article by Catherine Munn, an associate clinical professor from McMaster University’s psychiatry and behavioural neurosciences and lead psychiatrist at the McMaster Student Wellness Centre.

Titled ‘Why are so many students struggling with mental health?’, the article discusses the factors that may lead to why students are struggling with mental health and the support systems in place, both on and off-campus, for those who find themselves struggling. It also demonstrates that students are in severe need for better mental health support on campus.

From inadequate funding for Student Accessibility Services, severely long wait times to see a counsellor and over 23,000 students accessing support from SWELL, it’s interesting to see that candidates in the McMaster Student Union presidential election aren’t prioritizing mental health in their campaigns.

Out of the four candidates in this year’s race, only three of them have a single platform point related to mental health support on campus. Out of these three, only one platform is feasible in theory, while still remaining financially unclear.

Generally, once these platform points are simmered down, they don’t amount to anything more than a relatively ambitious and opportunistic points to gain your vote. Each platform that has a talking point about mental health support has no plan that is feasible or realistical to implement structures that support students on and off-campus.

Sure, there is only so much that can be done within a year’s term. But within a year’s term, the MSU president’s role is to advocate on behalf of students and to bring your concerns to higher levels of governments and to university administration.

We can turn these talking points into feasible opportunities to support those who are struggling on campus by prioritizing their needs over self-indulgent platforms from our presidential candidates.

So let’s be clear, we can do a whole lot better for the many students who are struggling with mental health.

 

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[spacer height="20px"]This past municipal election came with special significance.

It served as a pivotal moment for Hamilton, a moment that would decide whether the city would be moving forward with the $1 billion light rail transit system or not. While I’m grateful for those who fought tirelessly to bring something so obviously important to a city like Hamilton, I’m disappointed.

I’m disappointed that so few councillor candidates discussed the issue of affordable housing at length when today, Hamilton has the highest inflation rates in rental properties across Southern Ontario.

I’m disappointed that so few councillor candidates discussed the issue of poverty and homelessness in our city when poverty rates in Hamilton are higher than both the provincial and national averages.

I’m disappointed that so few councillor candidates discussed the surge in hate crimes in Hamilton, when the city has the highest rate of police-reported hate crimes in Canada.

Most of all, I’m disappointed that despite the fact that the city has conducted countless votes and approvals, the LRT turned into an election issue when the top mayoral challenger ran on a single-issue platform, leaving the other issues that the city faces in the dust.

Sure, there are a wide range of reasons to be against the LRT, but these reasons weren’t even touched throughout the campaign period of this election. Instead, those who were against the implementation used obvious lies to persuade voters, claiming the LRT is inaccessible, expensive and privately owned. All of these things can be so easily fact checked to prove otherwise.

Hamilton is a city with complex issues, from affordable housing, to poverty, to economic development or to the surge in hate crimes in our city. Implementing the LRT is not a complex issue, nor a debate. It’s an obvious choice, now let’s move on from this.

For a municipal election to turn into a referendum on whether or not we should be moving forward with the LRT says a lot about the “ambitious” city. Are we really that ambitious of a city if we’re afraid of change? More importantly, are we really that ambitious of a city if we’re not showing up for those who need us?

There are more prominent issues at the table to be so obsessive, yet divided, on a crucial investment for Hamilton. While I’m glad we can finally put this argument to rest, let’s work together to be the ambitious city that Hamilton needs.

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As the Hamilton municipal election looms, The Silhouette will be interviewing Ward 1 candidates about their platforms and why they believe McMaster students should vote for them. This week, we are featuring our final set of candidates: Jordan Geertsma, Maureen Wilson, Carol Lazich and Syed Bakht.

Click to learn more about the candidates.

Jordan Geertsma

Maureen Wilson

Carol Lazich

Syed Bakht

Ela Eroglu

Harrison White

Sharon Anderson

Lyla Miklos

Sharon Cole

Richard Massie

Jason Allen

Sophie Geffros

Linda Narducci

 

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[spacer height="20px"]By Elliot Fung

The Ward 1 councillor candidates are promising a number of changes that aim to improve McMaster student life. While ideas such as support for landlord licensing and the light rail transit project can be found in multiple platforms, the candidates differ in their approach to some key areas.

With the constant rise of housing prices, affordable housing, which includes student housing, is considered a top priority for all candidates. However, there are many unique proposed methods to tackle this election issue.

Carol Lazich proposes cooperative student housing initiatives and the purchase of excess land for construction of student housing complexes. Sophie Geffros proposes that new developments be required to have 15 to 25 per cent affordable and geared-to-income units.

On the other hand, Both Ela Eroglu and Sharon Cole propose intensification and infill developments. Harrison White also supports cooperative student housing initiatives and proposes the re-introduction of rental-property based tax breaks.

Sharon Anderson proposes an increase in the number of medium density developments through zoning by-law adjustments. Linda Narducci proposes better negotiations between existing landlords, patrons and developers.

Another issue pertinent to McMaster students concerns the health and safety problems caused by absentee landlords of student rentals and education about tenant rights.

Candidates Maureen Wilson, Cole, White, Geffros and Lyla Miklos support a licensing system for rental properties that would help to ensure that tenants’ rights are sustained. They also promote educational programs for students to ensure that students understand tenant rights and what landlords are legally allowed to do.

Geffros’ plan includes a $10 to $50 fee for landlords to lease a home; in return, the city would inspect rental units to ensure they are up to health and safety standards. Eroglu proposes a different approach through a two-year pilot project in the Ainslie Wood area aimed at enforcing rental housing by-laws. Lazich proposes the implementation of stricter regulations and penalties for landlords if properties are not maintained.

Candidates Wilson, Narducci, Jason Allen, White and Anderson aim to address street and traffic safety, an issue particularly relevant to students coming to campus every day from surrounding residential areas. Some proposed plans include better enforcement of speed limits and working with the city of Hamilton to clear roads and sidewalks after snow falls during the winter.

Retention of McMaster graduates in Hamilton is another issue that Lazich and Eroglu aim to address. In particular, Eroglu proposes to attract new businesses to set up in Hamilton. Lazich proposes partnering with corporations and small businesses and providing grants to students for startups.

Moreover, some candidates are promising the launch of new services and initiatives unrelated to the most significant issues at play.

For instance, Lazich wants to introduce a number of new services concerning students including dog therapy, an Indigenous Enriched Support Program, male support groups for first years, promotion of student success programs and education programs for cannabis use.

Geffros aims to address safety, hate crimes and sexual violence in Ward 1 by creating well-lit pedestrian paths, implementing emergency poles and funding free bystander intervention training.

With this year’s large number of candidates, there is a great deal of consistency across platforms with respect to themes and topics being prioritized. But while candidates are focusing on the same issues, they diverge when it comes to how they intend to address them.


For more information on candidates' platforms:

[button link="https://www.thesil.ca/meet-your-ward-1-councillor-candidates" color="red"]VIEW ALL CANDIDATE PLATFORMS[/button]

Questions on how to vote?

[button link="https://www.thesil.ca/ward-1-voting-101-a-voting-guide-for-mac-students" color="red"]WARD 1 VOTING GUIDE[/button] 


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With as much scrutiny and attention as there has been on electing Vice-Presidents this year within the McMaster Students Union, it’s easy to miss a lot of the progress that’s been made compared to previous years.

Most recent and public of these were the VP Meet-and-Greet events, a chance for the 10 candidates variably running for VP Administration, Finance and Education to get to share and connect with the general public.

“I think it is very good for outreach, it is a good change for ... MSU members to come out and get to know their VP candidates and to inform and advise their SRA members who they want as their VP candidate,” said current MSU President Ehima Osazuwa.

As a showcase of the candidates, it’s a fresh addition to improving transparency for roles that earn nearly $40,000 in salary over the year and are chiefly responsible for the day-to-day functions of the MSU, a multi-million dollar organization.

But the freshness is perhaps also a result of the diverse pool of candidates that are running for each of the positions; amongst the 10 candidates running for three spots this year, seven of them are female, with one of the positions guaranteed to be held by a female.

With a strong possibility that women will even make up half of the Board of Directors next year, it’s one of many areas that candidates hope are starting to become more open for any and all individuals.

news_a_growing2

The issue of women in governance has been a topic of debate within the MSU to varying degrees, and recent initiatives like MSU and You have been trying to encourage and support women to run for leadership positions within the union.

As Giuliana Guarna, current VP Administration explained, the emphasis to her is not about ensuring women are filling a certain quota of roles; rather, it’s the process of establishing equal opportunity and support for women and others who aren’t fairly represented at a governance level.

“I think people underestimate how important it is to literally be able to see someone who looks like you, who talks like you and who has the same values as you in these leadership positions,” said Guarna.

“If you were a first year last year, and you see four men on the BoD, that’s isolating. Just visually, you don’t see yourself there. No one’s explicitly telling you that that’s not for you, but there’s that implicit messaging that maybe that’s not where you’re supposed to be.”

As Guarna also noted, this hasn’t been an issue of competency, as the Part-Time Managers who manage the various services within the MSU have historically been predominantly female. Next year, women will make up around 15 of the 20 or so PTM positions, a consistent trend in the history of the MSU.

As a current PTM herself, VP Administration candidate Nishan Zewge-Abubaker commented on the increase in female candidates, stating that “It’s kind of an indication of [how] people are feeling encouraged to run for these kinds of positions.”

news_a_growing3

This pattern of female organizers behind the scenes is even further evident when recognizing that four of the 10 candidates running for VPs previously worked as a campaign manager during Presidentials this year.

It’s an exciting prospect to see so many qualified and diverse individuals come from a variety of backgrounds, and several of the candidates explained how encouraging and important it’s been to see role models from before.

Said VP Finance candidate Miranda Clayton, “Seeing [former VP Administration] Anna D’Angela in my first year in the MSU actually made a bigger impact than I initially thought; I realized that’s where I’ve seen the most women.”

“I had to talk myself into running for VP Finance, because I’ve never seen a woman be successful in this role.”

Shaarujaa Nadarajah, another VP Administration candidate added, “We want more women in governance, we want more females in high leadership positions.”

The Student Representative Assembly for the 2016-17 year will decide the VPs for next year over a two-day period from April 2nd to 3rd.

With files from Saad Ejaz.

Photo Credit: Kareem Baassiri

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Esther Chatul is not your typical MSU Presidential candidate. Despite having more likes on Facebook than two of the candidates in the running this year, she is not on your presidential ballot. This is not because she doesn’t have a platform, but because of blatant speciesism. Esther Chatul, to put it simply, is a cat.

In The Silhouette’s one-on-one interview with Esther, we learned a lot about the feline behind the non-human equity movement sweeping the campus. For an animal so vocal on social media, Esther is incredibly quiet and shy in person, burying herself in the lap of her human assistant. Perhaps this is because the five-year-old domestic long hair has had a rough upbringing. She has half a tail after an accident early in her life, and has been through three foster homes before finally being adopted from Pride Rescue by her current owner.

lifestyle_meet_your_sixth2

Her owner, Sophie Geffros, helps run Esther’s social media accounts, and translated Esther’s meows into English during the interview. Esther’s human assistants are very committed to the cause, helping her with day-to-day life, and doing everything from taking Esther on the bus to scooping litter boxes. After all, not having opposable thumbs in a world for people with opposable thumbs is very difficult.  “We raise her voice, because there’s nothing wrong with being a cat. It’s not that she is any less of a qualified candidate than any of the human candidates. It’s that the world is simply not built to accommodate cats,” said Esther’s human assistants.

Esther’s troubled past, however, has not deterred her from pursuing the presidency. Her ambitious platform includes leveling the entire campus to make it accessible. On this controversial platform point, Esther purrs, “The one thing we don’t know is just where the [expletive] we’ll have classes. It’ll be very difficult to accomplish, but definitely worth it once it happens. It’s sort of like building another student centre that you swear is totally going to get done.”

lifestyle_meet_your_sixth3

While her opponents have pigeonholed Esther as solely fighting for non-humans, this is not true. Another pillar of Esther’s campaign is to close the demon portal in the basement of KTH to protect humans who have classes there. Cats can see the demons, but cannot be affected by them. “It’s a bit of a tricky situation where the only animals who can blow the whistle are not in fact the victims of the situation. So it’s really important for me to speak up in these situations. I believe very strongly in responsible whistle blowing. [Upon learning about the demons], students became very distressed so I decided to include providing services for survivors of the demon portal in my platform. I believe in demon portal survivors.”

Esther’s critics have also drawn attention to the fact that the feline inclines to use profane language on Twitter. In response to these criticisms, Esther pawed angrily, “It is inappropriate for people in positions of privilege to tone police me. When you are not in a position of privilege it is your right to make your voice heard in whatever way you can. Before I started using more profane language, I simply wasn’t being heard. It’s unfortunate that it took that much for people to recognize my concerns as legitimate.”

Esther struts with the compassion of an animal who has experienced injustice borne from being a cat in a world made for people. She also has the strength and aggression borne from being a cat. Esther Chatul may not have claws, but her “claws” are out in the fight against injustice.

#EqualityMeow

In her words…

Most ambitious platform point

Leveling campus

Sandwich she would make you

Tuna & gravy

Candidate platform you are critical of

Devante’s washroom improvements

“The fact that people can continue to ignore the need for gender neutral litter boxes is very distressing.”

For or against VP Referendum

For

Opponent you would vote for

“Sarah Jama”

“She actively recognized non-human equity.”

Website

FacebookTwitter

Photo Credit: Jason Woo/Lifestyle Editor

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Each MSU presidential candidate wrote about why they're running. Read them through the links below.

Corey Helie-Masters

Ehima Osazuwa

John Tambakis

Tristan Paul

Matt Clarke

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