For over 25 years the McMaster Alumni Association has partnered with affinity companies to bring valuable services and discounted benefits to students, alumni as well as faculty and staff.  If you’re a student, you may have encountered some friendly folks reaching out to you to sign up for a BMO McMaster MasterCard in the Student Centre. And perhaps you might have looked into renters insurance in your second year when you moved off campus through TD Insurance Meloche Monnex.  We hope you’ve enjoyed flashing your MasterCard with the image of our beloved Edwards Arch and felt a little surge of pride when a cashier or server comments on the great looking card, or says, oh, hey, I go to MAC too! Perhaps when you graduate, you’ll need to replace your health and dental insurance and will look to Manulife Financial for that. Further on, you’ll switch that renters insurance to house insurance and may want to protect your growing family with life insurance. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves!

The MAA’s goal with the affinity programs has always been to offer a great deal or added value on a service or product you need. And, over the years, thousands of students and alumni have participated in these programs. With excellent customer service survey reports and impressive retention rates, we are confident that the programs are delivering the quality experience that we expect.

You may wonder what else the alumni association get out of these programs. You may enjoy knowing that your participation in these programs helps to contribute to programs and initiatives back here at MAC, without any additional cost to you!  Over the years, through growth in these programs, the MAA has supported student bursaries and scholarships, helped fund Alumni Field, the McMaster University Student Centre, helped bring you Light up the Night, as well as countless student group initiatives, conferences and events that contribute to the diverse learning and social opportunities that make for an awesome university experience.  

So, if you’re carrying that McMaster MasterCard in your wallet, we hope you feel good about using it and we hope you are even more stoked about the discount you received on your insurance. If you’d like to learn more about the affinity programs offered through the association, check us out anytime at – Access Benefits. Questions?  Contact or call 905-525-9140, x. 23900.  And hey, thanks for your participation!


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Photo from Silhouette Photo Archives

If you browsed through social media on Jan. 30, chances are you saw #BellLetsTalk circulating around. Political leaders, celebrities, corporations and even McMaster University shared the hashtag in support of “ending the stigma” around mental illness.

Success and meaning can be found along many paths, but the paths can be rough and winding. | @McMasterSWC #BrighterWorld #BellLetsTalk

— McMaster University (@McMasterU) January 30, 2019

But like #BellLetsTalk, McMaster’s mental health initiatives seem more performative than anything else. While offering “self-care” tips and hour-long therapy dog sessions can help students de-stress and perhaps initiate conversations about mental health, it alone is not sufficient.

This sentiment is shared amongst many other students and has been brought up time after time. It is truly disheartening then that the university seems to do little to meaningfully address students’ concerns.

Instead of investing in more counsellors at the Student Wellness Centre or restructuring their support systems on campus, starting Feb.4, McMaster is running Thrive Week. Thrive Week is a week-long initiative aimed to “explore [students’] path to mental health”. The week boasts events including yoga, Zumba and meditation circles.

There is no doubt that engaging in wellness and mindfulness activities, including activities like yoga and Zumba, can help alleviate some of the stresses of university and can positively benefit your mental health.

However, it is in itself not enough to actually help students overcome mental health issues. McMaster acknowledges that most students seem to experience, at least during some point in their undergraduate career, mental health issues. This is telling of a systemic issue. Mental health issues are largely attributable to socioeconomic factors. Financial strain, food insecurity and lack of a responsive administration can all factor into developing mental health issues as a student.

The best way to help students is to address the root of the problem, which often lies within the very structures of the university. Until McMaster addresses these systemic issues, yoga classes and wellness panels will do little to remedy students’ concerns.

Beyond addressing systemic issues, students struggling with mental health issues can’t colour their issues away; they require professional help. It is true that the university offers trained peer-support volunteers at services like the Student Health Education Centre and the Women Gender and Equity Network, but again, this is not enough. The responsibility of students’ mental health should not fall on the shoulders of other students.   

If the university truly cared about their students’ mental health, they would invest in more counsellors and actively work towards ensuring that waiting times at SWC aren’t months on end. They would make systems for receiving academic accommodations more accessible, as they currently require students to provide documentation of diagnosed mental health issues.

Talk is cheap. So are free Zumba classes. While raising awareness and reducing the stigma around mental is important, what students need is real change to ensure there are actual support systems on campus. The university has a responsibility to make that change happen.


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Last week, the Silhouette News team wrote up platform critiques for each of this year’s McMaster Students Union presidential election candidates. The critiques collectively point out that while the candidates are trotting out some interesting ideas, many are patently unfeasible.

Madison Wesley advocates for a McMaster campus store textbook rental program, but the director of retail services at McMaster told our News contributor that the program would be impossible to implement.

Justin Lee hopes to unveil “Uber for Busses,” but does not establish how he will work with app developers, the Hamilton Street Railway, McMaster and Hamilton city council to bring this to fruition.

Jeffry Campana aspires to build a McMaster ice rink by 2020, but as our News Reporter highlighted, plans to do the same in previous years collapsed in the face of insurance and accessibility obstacles.

Josh Marando wants to increase the deferred maintenance budget by $12,000,000 a year. Nevertheless, as our Features Reporter articulates, Marando’s plan hinges on acquiring Ontario government grants. Under the Ford government and recent budget cuts, this plan is just not feasible.

This is not to say that this year’s candidates have a limited knowledge of the MSU and what students care about. With a renewed focus on issues like accessibility and food security, the candidates seem to be cognizant of at least some pervasive student concerns.

They just also failed to do their MSU due diligence and consultation homework.

Whoever wins tonight should keep in mind that the MSU president does not have jurisdiction beyond the maroon-coloured walls of the union’s office.

Our next MSU president should fight to uphold their promises, but also shrink their imagination down to what is possible during their term.


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According to Statistics Canada, less than half of renters in Canada have renter’s insurance1 (also known as tenant or contents insurance).

We often think of home insurance as protecting the big stuff—like pipes, appliances, and the physical structure of the home or building. If you are renting, your landlord may have his or her own insurance policy to cover these kinds of items. But their insurance will not cover your personal belongings, such as furniture, jewellery, or entertainment equipment. Your landlord’s insurance will also not protect you if someone is injured on your property.

That’s where renter’s insurance comes in. Renter’s insurance could protect you from liability if guests injure themselves in your home. Renter's insurance could also help replace your possessions in the event of a loss or damage due to a covered risk. Speak to an Advisor to see how we can tailor your insurance to fit your needs.

Let’s start by understanding the importance of liability insurance.

Accidents happen and sometimes those accidents can be quite costly.

For example, a candle in your apartment could cause a fire. If that candle affects other units, you may be deemed responsible to pay for damages to your rental unit.

Or, if someone trips and falls in your apartment, you could be held financially responsible for the cost of medical expenses and lost wages.

Liability insurance could protect you in the event of a lawsuit, and help you cover the cost of any damages.

Next you need to understand a few basic terms:

Find the home insurance coverage that best fits your needs

[button link="" color="orange" newwindow="yes"] Get a Renter's Insurance Quote[/button]

[spacer height="20px"]1Home Insurance Spending in Canada in 2008, Statistics Canada, 2009, Ottawa, Ont.: Statistics Canada.

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