The president and three VPs of the McMaster Students Union delivered their annual State of the Union address on Jan. 26.
Under the stage lights of TwelvEighty, alongside president Matt Dillon-Leitch, were Alicia Ali, vice president of education, Duncan Thompson, vice president of finance and Katie Ferguson, vice president of administration.
The State of the Union address and accompanying 36-page document aimed to inform students about the current state of affairs in the MSU. Issues such as budget, clubs and on-going projects were discussed as a way of offering students a true understanding of where their money is being spent.
This year, the MSU aspired to show students early on that they could positively influence everyday student life at McMaster, exemplified through one of Dillon-Leitch’s first pilot projects, the extended hours of Thode library during the exam period. “The results were so quick, and to then see people actually using the library was phenomenal,” said Dillon-Leitch.
It was stressed that, because students contribute financially to the Union, students should be the primary beneficiaries. For example, the talk included an issue raised to Members of Parliament of how one is only eligible for OSAP if they have a minimum 60 per cent course load.
The forum outlined key issues surrounding university life at McMaster, followed by an in-depth review of three fundamental goals central to further development within the MSU.
High enrolment at McMaster is indicative of the University’s growing popularity as a school of choice for an increasing number of high school graduates, though such a trend comes with increased demand on the University to provide quality education and adequate space.
In keeping with the Student Union’s commitment to serve as a liason between students and the University administration, communication has been central to the process. While the MSU aims to maintain its online presence through social media, it has also successfully pushed for change to the University’s email system, changing from the MUSS (McMaster Undergraduate Student Server) to Gmail.
As part of the MSU’s goal to remain a student-centred organization, the Student Life Enhancement Fund has been better explored to derive as much benefit out of the resource as possible.
Under the umbrella of community engagement, students were surveyed about their views on the surrounding Hamilton community in an effort to bring down the barriers plaguing relationships between students and the city at large.
The MSU’s final goal as a representative of the student body aims to support the diversity of thought and culture that characterizes the McMaster community through support for various affiliated campus groups.
At the end, the floor opened to those in attendance for a question-and-answer period. Unfortunately, McMaster’s most vocal and active students didn’t do much to challenge the Union leaders.
Dillon-Leitch explained that he was “hoping for more questions.” He further expressed concern that “not all of the presidential candidates showed up, which is frustrating when you want to show them what they can do with the Students Union.”