C/O Travis Nguyen
A closer look at the elected first-year representatives for the MES and their hopes for the future
By: Kirsten Espe, Contributor
On Sept. 27, 2021, the results for the 2021-2022 McMaster Engineering Society elections were announced. After a year and a half of online learning, all candidates, especially the first-year representatives, were excited and optimistic about an in-person university experience.
Following a week-long campaign, six first-year Engineering students were elected by their peers to represent the biotechnology, computer science, engineering 1 and integrated biomedical engineering and health sciences programs.
Halima Banuso, one of the three level one engineering representatives, spoke about her early interest in becoming involved at McMaster.
“[The] MES were basically the ones who ran the Red Suits for Welcome Week . . . I just really loved all the activities and the Red Suits are super cool. I remember me and my friend asked ‘Oh, how do you become a Red Suit because I wanna do that [in my] second year too’,” said Banuso.
Aside from the excitement of returning to a somewhat in-person experience, Banuso was also enthusiastic to get back to doing something that she loved.
“I was that person who just really liked going to every event and planning every event and I was on my high school student council . . . Obviously school’s important, but that’s not necessarily what you’re going to remember and in a few years you’re going to remember the memories, the friends you made, the cool events you got to go to, so I really like being a part of that stuff,” said Banuso.
The first-year integrated biomedical engineering and health sciences representative, Dhanya Koshti, said that one of his main motivators in applying to the position was his desire for community.
“Everyone knows what they’re doing but they are way more for working towards collaboration over competition,” said Koshti.
Koshti made an astute connection between the distinctiveness of his program and the McMaster “Fireball Family” by comparing the bridge of engineering and health sciences.
“We’re sort of that hybrid in-between . . . We have this really unique relationship dynamic with each other and I really wanted to build on that connection,” explained Koshti.
Hetanshu Pandya, the first-year computer science representative, also spoke about the importance of his position in relation to the community at McMaster.
“[Students] can share their thoughts, their experiences, their opinions, whether it be negative or positive . . . and you can share it [with] me and I can communicate that with the council,” said Pandya.
Pandya said his main goal is to represent first-year computer science students fairly and effectively, with hopes of exceeding both his and his fellow peers’ expectations for the year.
Due to the partial online environment currently established at McMaster University, candidates found themselves honing their technological skills to campaign, particularly through social media.
Matthew Arias, the biotechnology first-year representative, commented on his campaign that was done on Instagram.
“[The] first thing I did was make an Instagram account because everybody’s on Instagram and it’s kind of the easiest way to reach out. I’d make Instagram posts on another website with graphic designing and I posted on there,” explained Arias.
Arias also highlighted that some of his fellow students would repost his posts without him ever asking, further driving home the sense of community the other representatives spoke about.
All four engineering representatives echoed similar sentiments to their fellow first-year students of the MES prior to the start of their official term.
“To the same extent that you all supported me, I really want to be there to help you guys. That is what this position, really, is all about,” said Koshti.
“Whether things are virtual, or in-person, someone’s on-residence, or off-residence, [I hope that] we can all come together and really feel a part of the McMaster engineering community,” said Banuso.
Despite the different circumstances students may be in due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these four representatives look forward to building a strong community for first-year engineering students.
By: Elizabeth DiEmanuele
The Student Success Centre is pleased to launch the Undergrad Peer Tutoring Network (UPTN), a new network for students to access affordable, quality student tutors, both in-person and online. The platform is powered by TutorOcean, a relatively new start-up company that was selected in partnership with the McMaster Engineering Society. Differing from other academic services available, this network is a chance to connect with another student who successfully completed the course; tutors must have received an A- to provide services.
“Through the Student Life Enhancement Fund, all McMaster undergraduate students who access the network receive a subsidy for the first seven sessions, meaning they only pay $9 per hour,” says Jenna Storey, Academic Skills Program Coordinator for the Student Success Centre. “Tutors are available from all Faculties and an important part of this service.”
Gina Robinson, Director of the Student Success Centre, adds, “Providing quality and affordable tutoring is an important objective of this initiative. Finding sustainable funding for subsidy will need to be part the plan moving forward.”
Understanding that there are a number of gatekeeping courses (mandatory courses for students to complete their degree), the Student Success Centre continues to work with Faculties to ensure that these courses are available on the network. The Student Success Centre has also incorporated measures to ensure that tutors are well-prepared, offering a number of different sessions for tutors to become “McMaster Certified.”
As Jenna shares, “Students are encouraged to find a tutor who has a ‘McMaster Certified’ badge on their profile, indicating they have completed the tutor training session in accordance with best practices. This training focuses on running an effective session, ethical standards, and communication skills.”
The Undergrad Writing Centre continues to be another support available for students, and can be used at any stage of the writing process. All Writing Tutors have undergone training through the Student Success Centre, which has been externally recognized by the College Reading and Learning Association (CLRA).
Students can book up to ten appointments per semester for free. This semester, new drop-in writing support is also available Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The Undergrad Writing Centre is located in the Learning Commons on the second floor of Mills Library.
Jill McMillan, Academic Skills Program Coordinator of the Student Success Centre, shares, “Writing remains is a key academic and life skill requirement. We are thrilled to have received certification recognition that demonstrates the quality of this peer based service. Students are supported in meeting their writing potential.”
Students looking for quick study tips and other academic support can connect with Academic Coaches, located in the SSC Lounge as well as in the Learning Commons on the second floor of Mills Library every Monday-Friday from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
TRIGGER WARNING: the following article contains references to extreme violence, rape, sexual assault and child mutilation all in graphic detail and may be triggering to some people.
Following this morning's announcement by McMaster University that the Redsuits engineering student group have been suspended due to violent and sexist material in a songbook, the songbook in question has surfaced.
The 35-page document, which details the lyrics to 28 songs and chants, contains material that is extremely offensive and, in the case of explicit references to child abuse, underage sexual behaviour, sexual assault on inebriated people and physical assault, promotes illegal and inhumane activity.
One particular song, "S&M Man" (found on page 34-5), is an inconceivably grotesque account of physically and sexually torturing women. Some verses include "Who can take a cheese grater / Strap it to his arm / Shove it up her cunt / And make some pussy parmesan?" and "Who can take a chainsaw / Cut the bitch in two / Fuck the lower half / And give the other half to you?"
Informal conversations with McMaster engineering students suggest that the book is a product of a small group of students and not representative of the Redsuits as a whole. Many engineering students were not even aware of the book's existence.
The University has denounced the book in question and as a preliminary sanction, has barred Redsuits from organizing events for the remainder of the year, including Welcome Week 2014 when they are most active with first-year students on campus. A full investigation conducted by an external agency has been promised by the University.
The McMaster Students Union supports the University's decisions. "Derogatory and degrading chants have no place on this campus," said MSU president David Campbell in response to the situation.
The McMaster Engineering Society released a statement via their Facebook page, stating that "this book is not, and has never been, distributed or endorsed by the McMaster Engineering Society. The content unequivocally opposes what the MES represents."
More to come.
The University has learned of a Redsuit songbook containing "sexist, violent and degrading material" and has taken action by formally suspending the large student group.
“The material is highly repugnant,” said provost and vice-president, Academic David Wilkinson. “The University has clear expectations that everyone on campus show respect for each other. The engineering songbook that we have learned about is highly disturbing and is the exact opposite to everything for which the University stands."
Effective immediately, the Redsuits are barred from organizing or participating in any campus events or activities. They will also not be allowed to organize any Welcome Week 2014 activities, which is the time of year when the Redsuits are traditionally most active on campus.
"Sadly, the small number of students within the organization and the redsuits they wear have now become symbols of intolerance and a sexist mindset that has no place at the University or in our society," said Ishwar Puri, dean of engineering.
The University is launching an external investigation into the matter and has vowed "rigorous scrutiny" for any forthcoming McMaster Engineering Society events. MES is the parent organization of the Redsuits, who are known for wearing red jumpsuits around campus.
More to come