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By: Eden Wondmeneh

Faculty representatives and Maroons can shape incoming students’ initial impression of the McMaster University community. They guide us through Welcome Week and are meant to play the role of mentor and role model.

A few days into Welcome Week, new students grow accustomed to the vibrant suits and are well-aware of the colour distinctions of each faculty. Suddenly the suit, which at first glance may appear as a horrendous fashion statement, is at the top of many first-year students’ wish lists.

For some students who hope to mentor and inspire incoming students, becoming a faculty representative during Welcome Week is not feasible.

Even if they do make it through the competitive application process, they are unable to participate due to representative fees that candidates are not made aware of at any point during the application process.

On Jan. 22, a call was released on the DeGroote Commerce Society Facebook page for 2019 business faculty representatives. Applications were due by Feb. 1, with prospective green suits contacted for interviews.

The role requires faculty representatives to attend two training sessions prior to summer break and another session the week prior to Welcome Week. Green suits are also highly encouraged to participate in May at Mac and Shine-o-rama, both orientation events running during the summer break.

Despite the large time commitment and the cost of the $60 green suit itself, students who made it through the application process and ultimately became a green suit, were immensely excited about the experience to come.

This excitement, however, was soured with the introduction of a representative fee of over a hundred dollars that was not advertised at any point during the application process.

The representative fee is a confusing, hidden fee that prospective and new faculty representatives are appalled by. The fee is estimated to be around $120.00, but with the McMaster Students Union funding cuts, new representatives expect this to be a low-ball estimate and have yet to be informed of the final cost.

This cost is said to cover training, food and participation in Welcome Week. This contribution to Welcome Week especially annoys students who never signed up to subsidize part of Welcome Week that as first-year students we already paid a mandatory $120.98 First-Year Orientation levy for.

For business students fees to join clubs specific to their faculty  is not uncommon. Most clubs require students to pay a small fee for registration.

However, in the case of the representative fee that impacts all faculty reps, the fee is substantial, and no one made them aware of the fee prior to joining. With a lack of discussion of financial support, some students  are genuinely happy they didn’t make the cut.

It is simply unfair for students who underwent the incredibly extensive process to become a faculty representative to be cut from the position because of an inability to pay for the high fees.  

The faculty representative fee ensures that those who are willing and chosen to volunteer their time to enrich and support incoming students secure their spot by coughing up money.

If this is the inequitable model the green suits and other faculty society representatives decide to rely on, then they should at least be transparent to their applicants.

 

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By: Jacqueline McNeill

CW: Mentions of sexual assault

It’s no secret that McMaster University’s “Brighter World” campaign has not been well-received by students, as demonstrated by recent actions by student protestors who replaced the slogan with “Whiter World” on a protest banner and distributed “Whiter World” posters in Dec. 2018.

Besides encouraging racist and ableist ideologies of what a “good”, “smart” or “bright” student is, the Brighter World campaign clashes with the problematic histories of the wealthy, white men that McMaster happily accepts money from; namely from Ron Joyce and Michael DeGroote.

With the recent passing of Joyce, McMaster released a statement claiming that he was a “generous philanthropist, a dedicated volunteer and a great friend to McMaster.”

"He was enthusiastic and committed to making a difference in so many ways, and he will be greatly missed," says McMaster president @PatrickDeane37. Ron Joyce was a generous philanthropist and a dedicated volunteer. We are saddened by his loss. | https://t.co/o73r3l3UKj

— McMaster University (@McMasterU) February 1, 2019

This statement, as well as every narrative McMaster has put forward about Joyce, overlooks the sexual assault allegations against the billionaire in addition to numerous other lawsuits against him. The allegations of these suits include intentional infliction of mental suffering, cheating Lori Horton out of her share of the Tim Horton’s franchise, and more.

Joyce attempted to have the sexual assault suit against him dropped, but the Appeal Court ruled in 2017 that the allegations warranted a trial. At this trial, Joyce maintained that he gave the victim $50,000 as “a gesture of friendship” rather than money to bribe her away. He denied that any assault had occurred, despite the $50,000 in perceived hush money.

The fact that McMaster never cut ties or removed Joyce’s name from our school after these allegations is telling for students.

Amidst the current discussion of how McMaster and the McMaster Students Union treat sexual assault cases and survivors, McMaster’s friendship with Joyce reveals where their priorities lie.

As long as Joyce’s sexual assault trial is left unacknowledged, McMaster continues to send the message that they value capital over the safety and mental health of students and survivors.

McMaster has also explicitly supported Michael DeGroote after his murky financial escapades came to light.

DeGroote, whose name is on our business and medical schools, invested in a casino business venture that initially appeared to be just that. However, he continued to invest even when it was evident that there was organized crime involvement in the venture.

Although it could be argued that DeGroote was unaware of this — however ignorant he’d have to be for this to be the case — he was recorded promising to send $150,000 “no strings attached” to a man who had offered to create evidence to prove that the brothers who started the casino venture had defrauded DeGroote.

“There’s ways of buying evidence, but it’s got to be done right,” DeGroote said in the recording.

Despite the overwhelming evidence generated from a year-long investigation by the CBC and the Globe and Mail, McMaster reaffirmed to CBC that DeGroote is a “thoughtful, visionary, and very generous man,” while refusing to address if DeGroote’s involvement with mafia activity would change the way they accept money from him in the future.

The names of Ron Joyce and Michael DeGroote on our campus are a constant reminder of how little McMaster values its students, and that Mac administration will let anything slide if the donation is big enough. Even if McMaster is unlikely to alter the names of these buildings and schools, it is crucial for students to be aware of where funding for them came from, and the therefore hypocritical nature of McMaster’s Brighter World.

If McMaster truly aims to create a Brighter World which campaigns for the “health and well-being of all”, they can start by scrubbing off these stains on our campus.

 

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By: Imran Dhalla and Rachel Connell, 5 Day participants

Homelessness: it is not an uncommon phrase or an unrealistic life, as one in five youth in Ontario identify with this phrase. How about hopelessness? I’m sure you can relate to that one. Somebody you know has been homeless at some point in their life, and someone you know feels hopeless every day as they struggle to find food, a safe space to sleep, and sit lost in a town full of people passing by.

The DeGroote School of Business’ “5 Days For The Homeless” is taking on one of the biggest struggles faced by our community as well as communities all around the world. This initiative is working to make a small but crucial difference by advocating the voices of those who feel hopeless and without a safe space to turn.

Recently criticized for giving a false idea of what street homelessness looks like, it should be noted that the “5 Days For The Homeless” campaign hosts sleepers who are not pretending to be homeless in any attempt to force sympathy from passers-by. The world doesn’t need to give their sympathy, we’ve all passed by and sympathized with these issues for years now. The world needs action, and that’s what we’ve sparked here at McMaster. One in 11 Canadians have been homeless in their lifetime, and these middle class campaign sleepers are pledging much more than “poverty porn.” You’re most definitely not donating your dollars or chicken noodle soup cans to suit their needs, but on the contrary, “5 Days for the Homeless” has been working directly with The Good Shepherd house in Hamilton. The Good Shepherd house is a centre dedicated to helping distressed youth in Hamilton. The space is not just for the homeless, and not just troubled youth, but it also addresses physical and mental health concerns and needs.

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In the past few years, the “5 Days for the Homeless” has worked with the Good Shepherd house to help distressed youths in a number of ways. This includes: helping replace beds and mattresses, supporting to their homework program, and giving financial assistance to the 716 admissions they’ve seen this year alone. 260 of those were able to remain in the youth shelter, and 301 through Ontario Work were able to pay rent, afford meals and do their laundry independently.

It might seem like a nuisance or a contradiction for some to see middle class students sleep outside the Student Centre collecting money and other items for their campaign, but the reality is, they aren’t the focus. The focus of the campaign is not to glamorize the lifestyle, or suggest that we could ever have a clue what these people face in their day to days, but the focus will always remain embedded in the desire to help the youth in our own backyards who remain on the streets. To act out on the terrible hardships they’ve been handed, and to do something with the resources we have on campus to better our community.

The world doesn’t need to give their sympathy, we’ve all passed by and sympathized with these issues for years now. The world needs action, and that’s what we’ve sparked here at McMaster. 

It is vital for these impressionable kids to tangibly see that we care and give them hope that what we’re doing has more value in society than an acting skit or sympathy scheme. The money 5 Days raises annually, and the advocacy this club brings are proof of a program that works. The sleepers not only pledge to commit a huge chunk of their time towards participating, but proudly stand alongside these youth with the opportunity to become mentors, provide in-house assistance, and create friendships that continue to have positive impacts long after the time of the campaign.

Is it a false idea of what homelessness is? Or is it false to assume that good people bringing good change must have some sort of loophole? It is justified to be skeptical about any campaign that claims to make a difference, but we can’t expect to change anything if we believe the change is too big for us. 5 Days for the Homeless tries and succeeds with a strong impact on the community and city.

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By: Lauren Beals

The newly formed DeGroote Women’s Professional Network wants to tap into the potential of bringing like-minded women together to work towards a common goal.

A collective of female leaders in the McMaster and DeGroote communities, the network is committed to bringing together passionate students, alumni, academics and local corporate partners to advance women in business and society.

Evolved from a breakfast series on women in business, the network was formally launched on Jan. 19 to a crowd of 200 attendees at the Burlington Ron Joyce Center.

Linda Morgan, President of the Clic Effect Inc., offered an exciting perspective on change management in a keynote address that included a four-step framework for change assessment and plenty of audience participation.

“It was a lot of fun,” said event coordinator and DeGroote School of Business Advancement Officer Kristine Leadbetter. “She looked at the different takes of people in the workplace and how they adapt to change. She also had the surprise element of dancing to demonstrate how when people are moving it is impossible to determine where they will go next and that unless you have a clear set of objectives you can lose focus from your ultimate goal.”

On a larger scale, the network hopes to tackle broader issues faced by women in professional settings through education and mentorship, laying to rest the storied “old boys’ club” of the corporate world. Encouraging woman to pursue leadership positions and nurturing ambition are also high priorities.

“[The network] is opening up the doors to have those conversations without needing a meeting with someone per say, that will hopefully encourage all woman to go for whatever it is that they want to do,” said Leadbetter.

On a larger scale, the network hopes to tackle broader issues faced by women in professional settings through education and mentorship. 

More often than men, women must juggle to prioritize education, work and family, a balance Leadbetter is confident mentorship will help create. “Being a part of the network means finding like-minded women. Whether you are in the time of your life when priorities are close to home or are solely focused on your career it is great to talk to women who are going through the same situation and see if they have solutions, tips or advice. Even just running ideas off of someone outside your core group of friends can be helpful.”

Leadbetter was also quick to specify that despite the network’s name, the events are not offered exclusively to women. “We do have men that attend our events which is totally fine. It is great to have men that support our initiative, it is a very important part of it actually.”

In addition to the launch event, a wide range of opportunities to become involved are currently available, including a “Knowledge@DeGroote” lecture series with industry leaders and cocktail networking evenings. Students are offered free event registration and are encouraged to attend not only for employment connections but also for career advice and exposure to seasoned perspectives. They can also connect with the network through social media and professionally online through LinkedIn.

However, for women in business the path to equality is still paved with many obstacles.

“We still have a way to go … a lot of initiatives right now are showing that there is change, but also that change is still needed,” said Leadbetter.

Photo Credit: Mike Lalich

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By: Abraham Redda

 

International students are a strong source of revenue for the University. They pay nearly double in tuition costs compared to domestic students. Over the past few years at McMaster, there has been a 6 per cent rise in the tuition costs for internationals.

With the movement for producing more globally aware citizens in universities across North America, McMaster has shown evidence of following suit. The university has students representing over 91 countries worldwide and is the only North American host site of a United Nations University.

The International Student Barometer measures the quality of international student experience. The 2011 ISB surveyed 209,422 international students from 238 institutions in 16 countries.

While McMaster was not one of the ten participating institutions from Ontario, the barometer provides information on general Canadian trends.

According to the ISB, Canadian institutions rank positively, above the international average, in providing safety, eco-friendly environments and Internet access to international students. On average, Canadian institutions were noticeably behind the international average in terms of supporting international students with living costs and financing.

Since there are no caps on tuition fees for international students, the increase in international student admissions nationwide has often been seen as a makeshift solution for the lack of funding that universities have experienced since the ‘90s.

It seems that an expensive education is no deterrant to foreign applicants. McMaster alone has 1,289 international students at the graduate and undergraduate level (as of 2009/2010), contributing to Ontario having the highest number of foreign students in post-secondary institutions in Canada.

Many would argue that an expensive education is worth the payoff.

Angelina Bong, a 4th year Commerce student originally from Singapore, said she ultimately chose McMaster over other Ontario universities because she felt it would give her a well-rounded education.

“I definitely felt a strong pull towards Mac. It’s more open and flexible. I’ve never felt that I was denied any opportunities.”

Bong also highlighted the DeGroote International Committee - a new committee set up by the DeGroote School of Business to increase dialogue within the faculty and incoming and outgoing exchange students.

“It just started, but I see a lot of potential.”

This kind of dialogue is intrinsic to the push for accepting international students. More than just a facet of increasing diversity on campus, international students may choose to stay in Canada after completing their degrees and become valuable contributors to society.

And if they choose to return to their countries or continue travelling, they can create and maintain strong connections between institutions.

“When I complete my studies,” said Bong, “I hope to get a job that allows me to travel around the world.”

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