While my undergrad has been the hardest years of my life, it has also been the most crucial to my overall growth

If you were to ask me in high school what I thought university was going to entail, I would have just told you some stress but still an overall exciting four years. Although that has been true, it does not depict or merely explain what these four years were. 

From the first day of my undergrad in 2019, I was so excited to start this new life of mine. University was all I ever dreamed about, especially during the number of times in high school I was eager to leave. Now that it had arrived, it was seeming exactly like I had rehearsed over the years in my head. 

Stress, loads of reading and writing, but overall growth and change; I was one step closer to my life. Yet little did I know what I was going to endure. It was the complete opposite. 

These four years have been the most difficult years of my life and although it may be easy to point the finger at 20-page papers, this wasn't the only reason. 

Your early 20s are the epitome of your adulthood. You grow immensely and the growing only begins. The second I walked into university, I not only lost friends, but I went through the hardest break up of my life, then had to finish the rest of the two years of my undergrad online because a global pandemic was underway. 

Half of my undergrad was spent virtually, my mental health was crippling and I never felt more alone. This was university?

I had so many ideas in my head as to what I thought it would be and this wasn't it. But those ideas were also part of the problem.

I learned that I needed to let go of the idea I had and wanted and instead accept my journey for what it was. Moreover, I could always still the reigns back, so I did. In the peak of pandemic I started working on my mental health and took a chance to breathe. 

I learned that I needed to let go of the idea I had and wanted and instead accept my journey for what it was. Moreover, I could always still the reigns back, so I did. In the peak of COVID I started working on my mental health and took a chance to breathe. 

Healing all of the heart break and loss was immensely needed, thus I instead viewed the pandemic with admiration in ways, a lesson I learned I’ve learned time and time again. 

Walking into McMaster University, I was beyond scared, selfless in unhealthy ways and overly self-critical. After spending time alone at home for so long, I learned I truly was my only fan, supporter and friend and that I needed to take care of that. 

And it was when I was stuck at home that I remembered touring the campus and seeing The Silhouette’s office around my first week – all I loved to do was to write and while everything seemed so far and impossible at that point, I still thought why not? and started writing. 

I started growing with my writing with the Silhouette. As I became a staff writer, I also began spacing out my studying and understanding how to do things that were best for my abilities and well-being. 

I found beauty in being in my own presence, beauty in my work and craft and beauty all around me. My undergrad never stopped testing me as I dealt with more grief, stress and mental health struggles regardless of the grip I started to have. 

Although one may see university as just improving your own logic for your future, more specifically within your work field, university bettered me as a human-being.  

I learned how to take care of myself. I learned more things about myself when I thought I already knew it all and more importantly – I kicked university's butt and some. 

I did things I never thought I could for myself and for my future self. Now I am the Opinions Editor for the Silhouette and I am just weeks away from graduating. I have learned so much along the way, met so many amazing people and gained so many new skills. 

It turned out to be a lot better than what I thought it was. A lot better. 

After a full three years of serving as the group's president, the McMaster professor steps down following an array of controversies

The past few years have been some of the best for Canadian soccer to date. In 2021, the women's national team achieved a spectacular achievement, winning the gold medal at the Olympics in Japan. This remarkable milestone was the first golden medal any Canadian soccer team won on the global stage, which has shown that there is significant potential within the country's soccer program.  

Just a year later, the men's team has done something that hasn’t been done since 1986 — they qualified for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The success that Canadian soccer was picking up over the last two years period has been remarkable and has shown signs of improvement in both sections after a very long time.  

All this success occurred under the recent president of Canada Soccer Association, and McMaster University professor, Nick Bontis. Bontis became the president of Canadian Soccer in Nov. 2020, after being selected by the board members in a successful run. However, on Feb. 27, he stepped down amid a letter from territorial and provincial soccer federations requesting he resigned due to the vast labor dispute between the women's and men's senior national teams.  

What exactly happened to the Canadian Soccer federation as of late?  

It all began with the She Believes Cup, a women's soccer tournament between four different countries, including Canada. Prior to the start of the tournament, CSA released a funding statement that outlined expenses for both men's and women's soccer teams where women's funding was significantly below their counterparts. Additionally, the team was informed that due to budget cuts, their time at the camp and the number of players invited has been reduced.  

This information sparked outrage and soon enough the women’s soccer team started a strike right before the cup took place, to which Canada Soccer sharply responded.  

“Headed into the February window, CANWNT was set to participate in the tournament with the likes of USA, Brazil and Japan. Just as they arrived, they’ve been informed that due to the budgeting issues they will have to spend less time on camp and not have as many players invited. The players decided to strike and not play the SBC, to which CSA threatened to sue the group,” said Mariam Kourabi, founder of “She Scores Bangers”, a popular podcast that focuses on women's soccer in Canada and around the world.  

Although there has been a significant dispute between the association and women's players, men’s players in the likes of Alistair Johnson have also stepped up to support the team in their actions.  

After weeks of negotiations, Nick Bontis had decided to step down as president of the CSA, citing that “change is needed”. Although the change has been welcomed by many fans and analysts, it’s still not perfect according to Kourabi.  

“It’s the first step in the right direction, he had treated the WNT as an afterthought with no vision in the program. The current acting president, Chermaine Crooks, has been the vice president until now and has been a part of his team throughout which is worrying,” explained Kourabi.  

Not only has Crooks been a part of Bontis’ team until her presidency, but the players have also made it clear that they don’t have confidence in her as the acting president.  

Although recent years have been some of the best for Canada Soccer, there are still these huge underlying issue to be resolved. The funding for both teams has not been equal and had not reflected the success of the women’s team, especially after the Olympics gold medal. After all the success, we are yet to see real change in the structure of the Canadian Soccer Association.  

Academic provost and vice president Susan Tighe delivered the State of the Academy Address on Mar. 1, which was interrupted by a protest about graduate student funding

On Mar. 1 at 2:30 p.m., academic provost and vice-president Susan Tighe gave the State of the Academy address, which covered McMaster University’s 2021-2022 initiatives and progress and the university's aims for the 2022-2023 academic year.  

In her address, Tighe emphasized the importance of experiential learning at McMaster, whether through co-ops or hands-on experience, and gave an update on equity and inclusion initiatives spanning over multiple faculties, including McMaster’s new Indigenous Studies department. She also announced McMaster’s new Digital Learning Strategy, to be launched on May 8.  

Tighe provided a snapshot of the year, highlighting some key statistics about McMaster’s performance. According to Tighe, 42,000 students accessed the health and wellness centre, the Pulse saw an average of 4,500 daily check-ins, the average admission grade was 91.9 per cent out of 36,000 students and McMaster was placed thirteenth on the Forbes Canada’s Best Employers List

In addition to this, Tighe spoke to strategies for growing the frozen enrolment rate and recruiting international students. She also spoke about how these strategies have contributed to the post-pandemic consolidated budget. 

“McMaster is one of the very few institutions in this province that is healthy financially . . . but we are facing pressures . . . pandemic closures, rising expenses, including utilities and other operating costs, hyperinflation, and certainly government deficits are all impacting bottom lines,” said Tighe. 

Near the end of the address, a group of approximately 10 protesters interrupted Tighe by standing up and reading their open letter, in protest of current graduate student funding. 

Near the end of the address, a group of approximately 10 protestors interrupted Tighe by standing up and reading their open letter, in protest of current graduate student funding. 

Kate O'Melia, News Reporter

The open letter, which is addressed to the McMaster University Graduate Council, has three key demands regarding graduate student funding: extending the funding floor to all full-time graduate students at McMaster, raising the funding floor to $24,000 after tuition and indexing the funding floor to inflation. The open letter also discusses current cost of living in Hamilton, citing a January 2022 report. 

“The average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in Hamilton was $1,559 per month as of January 2022, which means the minimum funding floor of $13,500 per year barely covers the cost of just 8 months of housing,” said the open letter.  

At the time of publication, the letter has 548 signatures from individuals and support from a number of local organizations, including the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion, the Disability Justice Network, CUPE 3906 and others.  

At the beginning of her address, Tighe had announced the Graduate Funding Task Force, a new initiative that aims to collect data on graduate student income and offer short- and long-term solutions to combat affordability issues for McMaster’s graduate students.  

The protesters acknowledged this task force and said it was not enough to make up for their funding concerns.  

During the protest, the moderator asked the protesters to sit down, saying they would be asked to leave. The event finally ended when Tighe came to speak to the moderator onstage, stating that the event would not continue. By 3:30 p.m. almost all attendees had exited L.R. Wilson concert hall. 

The planned Q&A session did not take place, due to the premature ending of the event.  

The planned Q&A session did not take place, due to the premature ending of the event.  

Kate O'Melia, News Reporter

The address was open to all students and staff, as long as attendees had pre-ordered their free tickets. . If any students or staff were unable to attend, a recording of the address will be available on McMaster’s Youtube Channel.  

Abbott’s campaign aims to increase student engagement with the MSU, suspend the Maroons and increase the quality of the student experience

cw: mentions of sexual assault 

Sam Abbott is a second-year environmental science student running for the role of the McMaster Students Union president.  

In an email to the Silhouette, Abbott stated that his three-pillar platform aims to increase student engagement with the MSU, address issues with MSU Maroons and increase the quality of the student experience at McMaster University. 

In his email, Abbott described his campaign as not very serious and based on a joke between friends; however, he also stated that he is passionate about solving issues on campus. 

Abbott plans to accomplish his first platform point, increasing student engagement with the MSU, by providing more money to MSU clubs. He believes that extracurricular involvement leads to more balanced lifestyles and positive university experiences.  

Abbott’s second platform point is to address issues with the MSU Maroons, specificially those related to the allegations of sexual assault that came to light in 2018. To accomplish this platform point, if elected Abbott stated that he plans to remove the MSU Maroons from campus events. He also said he would support the eventual return of the Maroons, but only if there is a shift in the culture of the organization during its hiatus.  

The third pillar of Abbott’s platform focuses on increasing the quality of service provided by the university. He aims to achieve this by advocating for a pedestrian-focused campus, amplifying student voices on the university planning committee and working with McMaster to preserve homecoming as an annual event. Abbott stated that as banning homecoming did not achieve the desired outcome, it would be more productive to engage with the tradition constructively.  

For more information on Sam Abbott’s platform, visit his Instagram profile

Voting for the MSU presidential election takes place from Jan. 24 to Jan. 26 using the Simply Voting platform and more information about the election can be found on the MSU Elections website.  

This article was not produced by the Silhouette.

Presented by McMaster Student Success Centre

By: Karen Rosenberg, PhD, Academic Skills Program Coordinator (Graduate Writing Specialist)

The start of a new term is a great time to reset and reflect on your learning strategies. Ask yourself, how effective are they, and what impact do they have on your overall well-being?

When I was an undergrad and I got stressed out by my workload, I’d retreat. I’d study by myself until I felt caught up or ran out of steam. I got the job done, but my isolation strategy was more painful (and lonely!) than it needed to be. When I was in graduate school and studied about how people learn, I realized that I had missed out on one of the great opportunities of university life: learning alongside others.

When I was in graduate school and studied about how people learn, I realized that I had missed out on one of the great opportunities of university life: learning alongside others.

Karen Rosenberg, Academic Skills Program Coordinator (Graduate Writing Specialist), McMaster Student Success Centre

Research shows that participating in communities of learning can enhance student learning and help students overcome challenges (Matthews et al., 2012). As a university student, you’re already part of communities of learning, whether you realize it or not. Classes, study groups, workshops and clubs are all environments where you get to learn alongside others and support one another’s success.

Here are some ways that you can make the most of communities of learning this term.

Take an inventory. What communities are you already in?

Consider the benefits and limitations of each one. In a large lecture class, for example, you may find that you’re learning a lot of new material, but you may not feel comfortable getting answers to all of your questions.

Reflect. How can you get the most out of your communities of learning?

One of the major shifts from secondary to post-secondary education is that you have a lot more control over (and responsibility for!) your learning. Ask yourself what you can do to get the most out of each community of learning. Keep in mind that one of the best ways to engage is to support the other learners in your communities.

Check out some new learning opportunities beyond the classroom.

As you figure out what January Reset means for you, consider joining some new communities of learning. Take some risks and try new things!

Talk to your friends and classmates. Attend workshops based on your goals for the term. Make connections at on-campus events that could lead to new study groups and other activities outside the classroom.

Check out the January Reset page on the Student Success Centre website for more ways to get involved: bit.ly/january-reset

Matthews, R. S., Smith, B. L., & MacGregor, J. (2012). The evolution of learning communities: A retrospective. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2012(132), 99–111.

This article has been provided by McMaster Alumni Association.

As we move away from Zoom lectures and Teams calls, taking examinations back on campus can suddenly begin to feel daunting. No matter how many exams you have taken at IWC, nothing can prepare you for the learning curve that is returning to in-person testing.

One way to ease this anxiety is by prepping as best as you can and picking a good study space. Whether that is dead silent or full of white noise, we’ve got you covered with all the best study spots on campus.

1. 6th Floor Mills: This spot offers complete silence and tranquility for those moments you crave pure focus. It is also a hidden gem, so it is easy to find a spot to sit at, even one with a window for a beautiful view of campus.

2. LR Wilson Lobby: This spot provides the white noise that many need to get into the zone. It is ideal for studying with friends or for a quick cram session after class. With vending machines and a coffeemaker within arms-reach, you are truly set up for success at LR Wilson.

3. MDCL Atrium: The atrium provides a sanctuary for those that thrive among nature. The floor to ceiling windows and quiet sound of the waterfall makes it easy to relax as you study for your upcoming test–no matter what the weather is outside.

If you are looking for more hidden gems, or wondering where to find these amazing spots, check out the full article here: https://medium.com/@peernet/top-10-study-places-at-mcmaster-university-79ccc4859ff2

Don’t forget to participate in our Exam Wishes giveaway taking place on December 8th and 15th on our Instagram page @mcmasteralumni1887.

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If you’re looking for even more ways the McMaster Alumni Association can support you, make sure to check out our website at http://alumni.mcmaster.ca and take advantage of our offerings for second term.

TAs and RAs in-lieu are now one week into a strike after an agreement wasn’t reached in their negotiations with CUPE 3906

Since April 2022, CUPE Local 3906 has been negotiating on the behalf of McMaster University teaching assistants and research assistants. However, in a historic vote in late October, 90 per cent of workers voted to strike if necessary. On Monday Nov. 21 at 7:00 a.m., after negotiations had stalled on Friday, picketing started at several entrances to McMaster University in attempts to disturb incoming traffic. 

In McMaster’s official announcement, they warned students to allow extra time to get to campus, as all parking entrances would be blocked by picketers and bus routes would be rerouted to off-campus drop-offs. In this email, McMaster also mentioned TAs can continue working, if they indicate this preference on a form. Professors were required to have a contingency plan, which may have altered the workload of TAs and RAs choosing not to strike.  

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The CUPE Local 3906, the union that represents teaching assistants and research assistants in-lieu, is fighting for key issues including greater financial security, better overall wellness and health care reimbursements, and improved working conditions that properly track number of hours worked. 

PhD candidate and elected CUPE 3906 health and safety officer, Anastasia Sol, explained why she supports the strike. She explained that the cost of living is rising and that many TAs and RAs in-lieu are lacking financial security. Sol is currently employed as a research assistant in-lieu, which is an option for graduate students who are not currently appointed to a teaching assistant position.  

“Every [cost] involved with living is higher than it once was and so this really has to do with issues of financial insecurity for teaching assistants and research assistants,” said Sol.  

She also explained that, although she was in support of the strike, she recognized the disruptive effect that it had on TAs and their students, especially approaching the end of the semester. 

“The strike is a last resort if we can’t [reach] a fair agreement, so striking isn’t beneficial for really anybody,” said Sol. 

Undergraduate TA Navya Sheth, who would usually spend 10 hours a week on her TA job, explained that she’s striking to ensure fair working conditions and higher wages for TAs that will follow her. 

“I think that ultimately, it’s not really about the people who are TAing right now. It’s less about the TAs that are working right now and more about making McMaster a good work environment going forward”, said Sheth. 

On the wage gap between undergraduate and graduate TAs, Sol said that equal work should see equal pay. Sheth spoke about how she did not realize before striking how large the pay gap was. 

“Before we went on strike I wasn’t aware of how big that gap was. I think that there are quite a few classes where undergraduate and graduate TAs are doing the same work,” said Sheth. 

In compensation for money lost during the strike, TAs and RAs in-lieu are being paid up to $300 by CUPE 3906 for 20 hours of picketing. TAs who are not able to picket for 20 hours can either request accommodations from CUPE3906 or they can choose not to picket and receive no strike pay.  

CUPE 3906 urged unit one workers to support the strike, as their rights would not be protected if they continued to work during the strike.  

Updates on the strike can be found at McMaster’s Labour Updates page, and updates on bargaining can be found at bettermac.ca and students will receive email updates for McMaster as the strike continues. 

This is an ongoing story. 

Andrew Mrozowski/Executive Editor

The new bylaw can charge violators up to $25,000 for participating in a nuisance party

Oct. 2, 2021 was a dark day for the McMaster University community. Approximately 5,000 students took to the south side of Dalewood Ave. to partake in what they deemed FOCO, or fake homecoming party. Students were on roofs, in trees, trespassing on private property. Videos from the day even showed a small group flipping a car

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The cost of the damage done by students was in the thousands. Tickets were issued and arrests were made, but there was an overwhelming feeling among students that this party shouldn’t have happened. 

“The moment it got bad was when a car got flipped, that was disgusting,” said Darius Caimac, a political science student at McMaster, to CBC Hamilton last fall. 

The McMaster community quickly realized that many of the students in attendance were not from McMaster, but other universities

“Most people that disrupted last year were not even McMaster community members, they were in fact from other parts of Hamilton or even other institutions,” said McMaster Students Union President Simranjeet Singh. 

Most people that disrupted last year were not even McMaster community members, they were in fact from other parts of Hamilton or even other institutions

Simranjeet Singh, mcmaster students' union president

As a part of the MSU’s efforts to be good neighbours, a clean-up of Dalewood Ave. and surrounding areas was organized with the MSU Maroons the day after FOCO. A service provided by the students union, the Maroons are a group of students dedicated to fostering community between McMaster students, the university and the wider city of Hamilton. 

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On an administrative level, McMaster University officials were quick to act and reassure the Hamilton community. 

“[We] owe our neighbours, our emergency workers and every other student an apology for the disruptions, disrespect of property and disregard of those who live in our community. On their behalf, I apologize for this behaviour, particularly by those who caused damage and put anyone at risk. Such actions are completely unacceptable,” wrote McMaster President David Farrar on McMaster Daily News

Students were equally disappointed with their peers. 

"The reputation of McMaster and all of the students is hurt," said Caimac to CBC Hamilton last fall. 

Despite the efforts of both McMaster University and the MSU, word of FOCO unfortunately bled outside of the city’s boundaries. The unsanctioned gathering was largely picked up by media outlets across the greater Toronto area with many asking what was happening at McMaster University. 


In Oct. 2021, Hamilton was in a vulnerable position due to COVID-19 according to the medical officer of health. The city was in “step 3” of Ontario’s reopening plan, meaning outdoor gatherings were limited to 100 people. Compared to the estimated 5,000 individuals who attended, the city of Hamilton was not impressed by the unsanctioned gathering that occurred during FOCO. 

Mayor of Hamilton Fred Eisenberger made a statement at a media briefing a couple days after the FOCO party occurred with regards to how it could have impacted the city’s COVID case count. 

“You have to be living under a rock to not understand and appreciate getting together on this level of a scale is potentially going to spread a virus,” said Eisenberger as per CBC Hamilton

Ward 1 city councillor Maureen Wilson took to Twitter to share her frustrations at the damage caused by the FOCO party. 

"This is unacceptable and dangerous. Someone is going to get killed. Past time for @McMasterU to own this annual community debacle. Let's send them the bill for all policing, paramedic & clean up costs. Mac President — get your house in order & stop trashing ours,” tweeted Wilson shortly after the party occurred. 

This is unacceptable & dangerous. Someone is going to get killed. Past time for @McMasterU to own this annual community debacle. Let's send them the bill for all policing, paramedic & clean up costs. Mac President - get your house in order & stop trashing ours. pic.twitter.com/KIh6oIXq6I

— Maureen Wilson (She / Her) (@ward1wilson) October 3, 2021

The councillor later went on to give a statement to CBC Hamilton about the events of FOCO. 

"When students are here to study, I see them as residents. So I will advocate for their health and their safety but when you are here as a resident, you have responsibilities. Act like an adult and be responsible," said Wilson to CBC Hamilton.  

In the same interview, she also stated: “Like most of the residents who live in that area, I'm outraged and hold the university responsible and I hold those students responsible.” 

Wilson held the McMaster community responsible for the events of FOCO, but she did not publicly acknowledge that many of the individuals charged were from outside of Hamilton and other institutions.  


On Feb. 1, 2022, Wilson put forth a motion to Hamilton’s planning committee to start consultation with stakeholders in the community. Their job was to identify potential measures to mitigate damage caused by future large social gatherings — kickstarting the process for Hamilton’s own nuisance party bylaw. 

There is precedence for such a bylaw in other municipalities, including London, Guelph and Brampton

Such a bylaw would help to mitigate the costs for city services during large social gatherings, such as FOCO. During the FOCO party in 2021, Hamilton Paramedic Services reported an expenditure of $19,605.76 and Road Maintenance reported an expenditure of $1,731.37. While Hamilton Police Services and Municipal Law Enforcement did not collect cost metrics, in an emailed statement to the Silhouette HPS Superintendent David J. Hennick said there was an expenditure of approximately $20,800.00 in labour costs and approximately $6,200.00 in overtime costs, adding up to approximately $27,000. 

“While I appreciate that cost may be one factor, it was not the main factor. Public safety and the deterrence of such events in our community led to the implementation of this bylaw being brought to Hamilton and it was believed that the implementation of this bylaw will help in that regard,” said Hennick. 

A report provided to Hamilton’s planning committee on Sept. 6, 2022, revealed that emergency services in Hamilton; urban planning departments of the city; other municipalities; McMaster University; McMaster Students’ Union; Mohawk College and Mohawk Students’ Association were consulted leading up to the creation of the bylaw. 

However, when asked about their involvement in the development of the actual bylaw, Singh and McMaster Dean of Students Sean Van Koughnett said the university was left in the dark. 

“The city went ahead and determined internally that they were going to create this bylaw. We were not engaged in the development of that bylaw . . . We weren’t engaged directly in the development of it or even indirectly,” said Van Koughnett. 

The city went ahead and determined internally that they were going to create this bylaw. We were not engaged in the development of that bylaw . . . We weren’t engaged directly in the development of it or even indirectly

Sean Van Koughnett, McMaster University Dean of Students

Singh confirmed Van Koughnett’s statement. The MSU President also shared concerns that the needs of the McMaster student community were not being thoroughly considered. 

“This was an initiative taken upon by, I believe, councillors [and] the city to do what they feel best represents their constituents. My view is that, in part of that process, we must also be aware of what needs are of a very important demographic in Hamilton, which is the student body of McMaster University. We just hope that in the future there's more clarity provided in terms of how this legislation will be applied. And when it is applied, it is in a just and fair way and it does not target students,” said Singh. 

And when it is applied, it is in a just and fair way and it does not target students

Simranjeet Singh, Mcmaster Students' Union President


The nuisance party bylaw was approved by city council on Sept. 14 and came into effect immediately.  

According to the definition outlined in the bylaw, a nuisance party is considered an event that results in  

The bylaw details the consequences for hosting or participating in such an event. 

“Under the bylaw, it is an offence to sponsor, conduct, continue, host, create, allow, cause or permit a nuisance party. Attendees of a nuisance party may be charged if they fail to immediately leave upon the order of police. If charged an individual host, property owner or attendee can face up to $10,000 for a first offence and $25,000 for any subsequent offence related a nuisance party,” said Monica Ciriello, director of Hamilton licensing and bylaw services in a statement emailed to the Silhouette.

 If charged an individual host, property owner or attendee can face up to $10,000 for a first offence and $25,000 for any subsequent offence related a nuisance party

Monica Ciriello, director of Hamilton licensing and bylaw services

According to a document on the city of Hamilton website, a breakdown of administrative penalties for the bylaw are as follows: 

Designated Bylaw & Section Short Form Wording Set Penalty 
Sponsoring, conducting, continuing, hosting, creating, causing, allowing or permitting a Nuisance Party $500 
Attending a nuisance party $300 
Owner/occupant allowing, causing or permitting a nuisance party $300 
10 Using a highway that has been closed without authority $300 
11 Removing or defacing any barricade or highway sign without authority $300 
12 Failing to comply with order to cease nuisance party $400 
13 Failling to comply with order to leave premise $300 
21 Obstructing an officer $400 

Unique to Hamilton’s iteration of the nuisance party bylaw is the addition of the University District Safety Initiative. The UDSI was developed in partnership between the city and HPS to further support the enforcement of the bylaw and its goals. 

“During specific time periods during the year; specifically, St. Patrick’s Day, Homecoming and “Fake Homecoming”, the “University District Safety Initiative” would be in effect and nuisance parties within them would be subject to a zero-tolerance approach, acting to minimize the negative effects of an ongoing nuisance party and ensuring those involved are held accountable,” stated the Sept. 6 report. 

In essence, the City of Hamilton does not need to declare a nuisance party in order to ticket people who are participating in large unsanctioned gatherings around McMaster. 

The area covered by the UDSI spans the east side of McMaster campus, north of Main St. W. between Forsyth Ave to King St. W. and Main St. W. to Oak Knoll Dr. It also covers south of campus from Main St. W. to Baxter St and Bowman St. To Dow Av. This notably includes the area where FOCO occurred last year. 

The UDSI is currently in effect from 12:00 a.m. on Sept. 28 to 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 2. 


Waterloo, London, Guelph, Brampton and Kingston all have implemented similar bylaws. Waterloo and Kingston were both directly consulted by Hamilton in preparation of the Sept. 6 report. Hamilton’s iteration of the nuisance party bylaw is remarkably similar to Kingston’s bylaw.  

“Each representative [of bylaw enforcement in other municipalities] was supportive of nuisance party provisions, indicating it was beneficial to officers as an additional enforcement tool,” stated the bylaw report from Sept. 6. 

The Silhouette reached out to the students’ unions at both the University of Waterloo and Queens University about whether they felt their bylaws have been used as an effective “enforcement tool”. 

Alma Mater Society Queen’s Commissioner of External Affairs Sahiba Gulati said the bylaws did not stop students from forming large gatherings. 

“With the bylaws in place [in Kingston], there have been some incidents where students were being wrongfully ticketed when passing by or not able to enter their student houses due to bylaw officers breaking up large gatherings on their streets. Last year especially was a bad year for us as we had police contact from all over the GTA including police on horses for the situation, making our students feel unsafe,” said Gulati in an emailed statement to the Silhouette.  

Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association President Stephanie Ye Mowe shared similar sentiments about the effectiveness from the city of Waterloo’s bylaw. 

“Nuisance bylaws can be useful tools, but fear of fines aren’t keeping students off the streets in this case and municipalities should recognize the risk of bylaws being weaponized against student communities,” said Ye Mowe in an emailed statement to the Silhouette

Nuisance bylaws can be useful tools, but fear of fines aren’t keeping students off the streets in this case and municipalities should recognize the risk of bylaws being weaponized against student communities

Stephanie Ye MOwe, Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association President


Upon a thorough reading of the Sept. 6 report, many contradictions were made with reference to how the bylaw will be enacted. The report makes reference to McMaster’s 2021 homecoming weekend; however, there has not been a university sanctioned homecoming event since 2019.  

The report also states there were nearly 5,000 individuals in attendance at last year’s FOCO. While this is an accurate statement, it must be noted the city’s report does not acknowledge that the majority of charged “attendees” were not McMaster students. 

The bylaw does not effectively state how these consequences will be enforced. As Singh noted, there is a worry that this bylaw will be used to target students, rather than be used as a tool to deter nuisance parties.  

Hennick also stated external officers will be brought in to support HPS in their operations during the 2022 fake homecoming weekend. There is a large discrepancy between city spending of resources on last year’s FOCO compared to the St. Patrick’s Day party earlier this year, $27,000 and $202,858.05 respectively. Although Hennick indicated that the FOCO costs were only an estimation, this is still a large difference between costs. 

Surveillance cameras have been set up on Dalewood Ave. with signs informing the community of their presence.

The Sept. 6 report goes on to break down four different reasons as to why the nuisance party bylaw would not be an effective use of city resources. First, police will always have to be present at large gatherings, which will always have a cost. Second, bylaw and police officers might not be able to determine who is responsible for causing a nuisance party. Third, as nuisance parties are advertised on social media, it further makes it difficult to determine who started it. Fourth and finally, a large number of attendees trespass on private property during a nuisance party, but the party does not necessarily involve the property owner or tenants. These properties are victims of nuisance parties, not active participants. 

The city outlined the above issues, yet still maintained that it is for the good of the community to enact this bylaw. 

“Despite these limitations, the inclusion of remedial costs allows for partial cost recovery for city services [and] may act as a deterrent for those considering hosting or creating a nuisance party,” stated the report. 

The city of Hamilton failed to consider that students also comprise the community and the creation of this bylaw has the potential to damage their sense of community safety. This begs the question: why are students exempt from this feeling of community safety? 

Why are students exempt from this feeling of community safety? 

Ye Mowe weighed in on how nuisance bylaws had affected student morale living in Waterloo. 

“Students have a reasonable right to enjoyment within their municipalities, just as any other residents. And even though bylaws may be created with good intentions, students and student associations have noted that bylaws can be over enforced in student neighbourhoods – having a negative, long-lasting impact on those who pay the fines and the communities they live in.” said Ye Mowe. 

Students have a reasonable right to enjoyment within their municipalities, just as any other residents. And even though bylaws may be created with good intentions, students and student associations have noted that bylaws can be over enforced in student neighbourhoods – having a negative, long-lasting impact on those who pay the fines and the communities they live in.

Stephanie Ye MOwe, Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association President

Along the same lines, McMaster students should be cognizant that their elected Ward 1 councillor, who has stated that she will look out for their interests while they are students in Hamilton, was also the leading voice behind the creation of this bylaw which seemingly targets students at McMaster University.

The provincial university advocacy group, Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, released a policy paper in 2020 outlining the stance that students deserve equal treatment under Ontario municipal bylaws and should not be targeted, discriminated against or challenged by bylaw enforcement simply for being a student compared to a permanent resident of a city. 

OUSA called on the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to create a system with accountability to better protect students from discriminatory bylaws. The organization also called on the Ministry of the Attorney General to release a statement, setting the precedence for students' status as a proxy of age, marital status or recipient of public assistance to grant more protection under the Ontario Human Rights Code. 

The Sept. 6 report states that the nuisance party bylaw would be used as another tool to send a message to Hamiltonians that large unsanctioned gatherings would not be tolerated across the city. However, the UDSI was created to specifically target the areas surrounding McMaster University and expedite the process of declaring a nuisance party. McMaster University wasn’t consulted on which parts of the community would be considered for the UDSI, which already leaves out large areas of student housing and family homes in the west end of Hamilton. 

“Again, we weren't involved in that process . . . I don't want to speculate. I'm not sure how they are they drew the maps, but certainly it is centered within our student community,” said Van Koughnett. 

It should also be noted that landlords could be at risk of receiving fines on their property taxes due to the nuisance party bylaw; however, the same recurring issue of how the bylaw will be administered comes up once more. 

“[The nuisance party bylaw] may encourage property owners/landlords to amend rental lease conditions for tenants to preclude these types of nuisance behaviours on the property,” stated the Sept. 6 report. 


The university, the MSU and the city are all concerned for public safety and the risk such large unsanctioned gatherings pose to the community. These concerns are warranted given not only the damage caused by last year’s FOCO, but also the events taking place at other universities, including Western University and University of Guelph, over the past few weeks at their own homecoming parties. 

Both university administration and members of the MSU expressed their support for measures to mitigate these damages; however, they were also concerned about the implications of the current bylaw specifically for student safety. 

“We support efforts to try to avoid and minimize the risks associated with large gatherings. So, if this bylaw helps to do that — and we hope that it does have an impact — then that’s a good thing . . . from the university standpoint, one of our main concerns is student health and safety. Anytime you get a large gathering like that, that's not managed in any way and there's obviously alcohol and other substances involved, there's a high degree of risk,” said Van Koughnett. 

Singh echoed Van Koughnett’s thoughts and he also raised concerns about the potential for use of unnecessary force in the enforcement of the bylaw. 

“[The MSU] shared concerns that some items may be up to interpretation by law enforcement when they actually are applying the bylaw and we're worried that may lead to cases of misapplication of force,” said Singh. 

The city of Hamilton, McMaster University and the MSU have spent the week leading up to FOCO 2022 trying to educate students on the financial repercussions that the bylaw may have. Van Koughnett went door-to-door on Dalewood Ave. and visited students’ homes to chat with them about the implications of the imminent street party. 

The city of Hamilton has also left flyers on the doorsteps of houses in the UDSI, informing potential partygoers of the new bylaw and warning them of the associated consequences through the nuisance party bylaw.

“Different partners are trying to use the tools at their disposal to try to manage this type of situation. So, in our case with McMaster, we tried to do a lot of education upfront and in this case one of our priorities is to educate students about this new bylaw because none of us want to see students . . . many of whom are trying to make financial ends meet, with a heavy fine,” said Van Koughnett. 

I’m on Dalewood this morning to educate students about the #hamont new nuisance by-law, which carries fines of up to $10K, and to discourage the large gatherings that pose significant risks to the health & safety of our neighbours & @McMasterU⁩ community members. pic.twitter.com/rAukdpkjeD

— Sean Van Koughnett (@Sean_VK) September 26, 2022

We’ll see if the city’s efforts pay off to deter students from gathering on Dalewood Ave. this year. 

This is an ongoing story

Here’s how undergraduate students searched for and secured positions in McMaster research labs

McMaster University is known for its expansive graduate and undergraduate research and innovation opportunities. Considered Canada’s most research-intensive institution, McMaster’s thriving research labs attract students with a variety of interests and backgrounds.  

Research experience allows one to develop relationships with mentors, explore career or graduate education pathways and develop confidence in lab environments among several other transferable skills. However, with the undergraduate population growing each year, available research positions can feel hard to find.  

“It was very much a game of chance. Realistically, no one from my year had any previous lab experience due to COVID-19, so it more came down to who showed the most interest in what that professor was studying,” said Lynn Hussayn, a third year psychology, neuroscience and behaviour student.  

Hussayn worked as a summer research student in an epilepsy research lab at the University of Toronto. Like many students, Hussayn faced difficulty finding a research position at McMaster.  

“The biggest piece of advice I would give [other students] is to search for things that you enjoy and actually have questions about. Research is meant to answer questions, so the best way of being at the forefront of something you’re interested in doing is to seek out people who are already doing it,” said Hussayn.  

“The biggest piece of advice I would give [other students] is to search for things that you enjoy and actually have questions about. Research is meant to answer questions, so the best way of being at the forefront of something you’re interested in doing is to seek out people who are already doing it.”

Lynn Hussayn, third-year Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour student

Jack Rosenbaum, a third year biology psychology student, also shared his own strategies for reaching out to labs from his experience as a research student in the McMaster PNB Dukas lab. He explained how he targeted his emails to graduate students from labs he was interested in instead of professors, as he thought they would be more likely to respond, which proved to be an effective strategy.  

Rosenbaum also emphasized the importance of seeking out research projects that you connect with. 

“If you’re really passionate about something and you show interest in a professor’s work, then I think you have a pretty good chance in working and volunteering in their lab down the road. But if you’re just doing it for your resume, I feel like professors can see through that,” said Rosenbaum. 

“If you’re really passionate about something and you show interest in a professor’s work, then I think you have a pretty good chance in working and volunteering in their lab down the road. But if you’re just doing it for your resume, I feel like professors can see through that."

Jack Rosenbaum, third-year Biology Psychology student

Sarah Arnold, a third-year chemical and biomedical engineering student and the co-president of the McMaster Society for Engineering Research (Mac SER), explained how resources available through student services, such as resume and cover letter editing, are accessible and effective methods of upping your application game. Along with these services, Arnold noted Mac SER also offers helpful guidance on finding research positions. 

 “Throughout the year we did a bunch of different events that are aimed towards essentially helping students find [research] positions. We have different recordings on our YouTube channel of past events we’ve done where we go over in detail how we approach professors and how you can breach the idea of research,” said Arnold.  

Arnold suggested using these available resources to ensure emails are formatted professionally and to make sure all documents are organized and concise. Arnold also acknowledged searching for a research position can be competitive and difficult regardless of the amount of effort you put in. 

“One tip I usually give to people starting off this process is don’t be too hard on yourself. Similar to applying to competitive programs at university, or specific scholarships; it won’t always work out, and that’s okay,” said Arnold.  

“One tip I usually give to people starting off this process is don’t be too hard on yourself. Similar to applying to competitive programs at university, or specific scholarships; it won’t always work out, and that’s okay.”

Sarah Arnold, Co-President of the McMaster Society for Engineering Research

Arnold emphasized the importance of recognizing the paths we are on are unique and while we should continue to seek out guidance and insight from others, every individual experience is distinctive. Finding a balance in this dichotomy is key to getting involved with research you find meaningful while also fostering independence as an undergraduate student.

What does it mean to be valued and why such a discrepancy?

Have you ever felt like you weren’t valued at work? Well, that’s how some students who are employed with the McMaster Students Union are feeling.

The MSU has about 300 clubs and 22 services that provide McMaster students opportunities to engage in extracurricular activities. While clubs are governed by individual student presidents, MSU services work a little differently.

They’re led by directors — McMaster students who are enrolled in eighteen credits or more. Service directors, who are classified as part-time managers at the MSU, are expected to hire a team of executives, manage a budget and coordinate events. PTMs go through an intensive hiring process and once hired, they attend training sessions on how to effectively run their department, learn MSU policies, procedures and practices. At least, this is what the process is on paper.

While this process might seem routine for anybody starting a new job, three PTMs have stepped forward to the Silhouette to share their experiences working for the MSU. The Silhouette has granted these individuals anonymity due to their employment with the MSU and their fear of retribution. They shall be referred to as PTM 1, PTM 2 and PTM 3.

Recent History:

This is not the first time the Silhouette has covered the MSU PTM experience. In June 2017, Zeinab Khawaja, the director of the Peer Support Line, a service that no longer exists at the MSU, brought forth to the Student Representative Assembly a number of concerns on behalf of the PTMs.

“It feels like our dedication to our services is used against us, because it is known that we will continue to do the work and put in the hours even though we are not being compensated fairly for it . . . Yet going above and beyond in our roles — something implicitly expected of a “good” part-time manager — is not rewarded, and instead deemed a ‘personal choice’ of the part-time manager that was never explicitly asked of us,” said Khawaja as reported by the Silhouette in 2017.

There isn’t a lot of information publicly available on what happened after this meeting, but Preethi Anbalagan, VP Admin in 2017, said that the MSU was working to address the issues brought forth by Khawaja.

Each PTM reports to the MSU Executive Board — a group consisting of five SRA members, the Board of Directors, General Manager, Communications Director, Administrative Services Coordinator and Associate Vice-President: Services.

When challenges arise, PTMs are supposed to speak with the Executive Board or put them in the Executive Board report, so that the Board can address those concerns.

Reflecting on the Past:

According to the 2021-2022 PTMs, most of their issues can be condensed into two main areas: lack of support/communication and lack of training. In fact, most of the grievances they have aired to the Silhouette this year line up with what Khawaja stated to the SRA in 2017.

In preparation for their interviews, we asked the PTMs to read our past coverage on the matter.

“Although unsurprising, it was quite shocking to see the exact same frustrations I had experienced echoing an article written five years ago. This really shows how systemic these issues are and that it is a deeper issue within the MSU structure,” said PTM 2.

This statement was echoed.

“I have heard from my predecessor and my predecessor’s predecessor that this job is unnecessarily stressful. It shocks me to my core that folks have been sharing these thoughts and feelings for years and absolutely nothing has changed,” said PTM 3.

Lack of Support & Communication:

Every individual may need support a little differently, but according to the MSU PTMs, “support feels non-existent” from their supervisor, MSU VP Administration, Christina Devarapalli. One PTM even stated that this lack of support and communication was their biggest job stressor.

“The silence from our supervisor [is the biggest stressor of my job]. We work in liminality of feeling overwhelmed by the information, protocol and bureaucracy required to achieve really anything and feeling entirely underwhelmed by the guidance and instruction required to navigate these,” said PTM 1.

MSU President Denver Della-Vedova indicated that while Devarapalli is the supervisor, there are also supports for the service directors with other MSU staff such as their assistant directors, MSU human resources and the rest of Executive Board.

Both Della-Vedova and Devarapalli stated that all PTMs can state any challenges they are currently facing in reports that they present to Executive Board.

“When any report comes in, the first thing I go to is the challenges section and when that report is presented at EB, as Denver mentioned, he follows up, [and] I also make an effort to follow up as well to see what kind of support we can offer,” said Devarapalli.

Communication breakdowns seemed to occur quite frequently when PTMs allegedly would send emails to Devarapalli but receive no response. One breakdown of significance was identified by PTM 3 who stated that service directors were not informed of the MSU going from solely online operations to hybrid during the Winter 2022 term.

“[W]ithout ANY communication with service PTMs, the MSU publicly shared to thousands of students that peer support services [would] be moving back to in-person operations . . . I have asked about the transition back to in-person numerous times with zero answers. And now I am hearing that my service is going back in person through the [MSU] Instagram account? This is ridiculously disrespectful to the folks who are working their butts off to run these peer support services with very little support and very little instruction while also being full-time students,” they said.

Devarapalli clarified to the Silhouette that there was an oversight internally at the MSU with regards to this issue. As the MSU leadership started to finalize what a potential return to campus would look like, it accidentally went out on social media before internal folks could be informed.

“As soon as we recognized this, I went and clarified the expectations around [the return to campus] and that it was not a complete or obligated return. Rather, it was based on a service’s individual timeline and capacity,” said Devarapalli.

Della-Vedova pointed out that Devarapalli did hold open office hours, had an open-door policy and gave all PTMs her personal phone number.

Devarapalli added that she tried to create a “casual, virtual environment” through hosting open-door meetings three times a week, but also allowing PTMs to schedule more traditional, “formal” meetings if they chose.

Lack of Training and Hours:

Although training is outlined in their job descriptions, the MSU allegedly did not provide all of the training required for the PTMs to be successful.

According to the PTMs, there was a lack of proper budget training and anti-oppressive training, even though it is expected that service directors apply an antiracist and anti-oppressive framework within their services as per their job descriptions.

“Our training consisted primarily of how to fill out purchase orders and how to use excel to track our hours. There is so much more training that needs to go into [these roles]. I felt like I was dumped in the deep end with absolutely no experience and absolutely no meaningful training for the role,” said PTM 3.

Della-Vedova and Devarapalli seemed quite confused when the Silhouette asked them about this lack of training.

Devarapalli clarified that each year, the MSU provides sexual violence prevention response, accessibility training and anti-oppressive practices training. Not only was this training provided live, but it was also posted to Avenue2Learn in module form, which allowed for the MSU to track who has completed the training. She also stated that financial training was provided at least three times.

This directly conflicts with what PTM 3 stated to the Silhouette, claiming that there was no asynchronous option for training and that no anti-oppressive practices training was provided.

It should also be noted that although these PTMs have signed on to work 12-14 hours per week, they have claimed they worked at least 20 hours a week in order to meet the duties outlined in their job descriptions and service operating policies.

“I feel like the MSU is profiting off of the work that students are putting in without doing any of the work themselves. We are scolded for going over hours,” said PTM 3.

Devarapalli directly addressed this comment.

“I don’t think that the concept of profiting off people’s labour or exploiting them is accurate because the MSU is a not-for-profit organization, so none of these student services generate revenue to the board. All of them operate within confined budgets that are approved by the SRA,” she said.

Devarapalli stated that resources have been provided to PTMs which can allow them to fall back on full-time staff, the VP Admin or even their assistant directors; however, this should be delegated.

Della-Vedova also clarified that when a PTM thinks they are going to go over their hours in a given week, they must seek approval from the VP Admin by providing an approximate range of how much they will go over, allowing the VP Admin to see if any support can be given. Part of this process involves PTMs actively tracking their hours and specifying what they are doing with their time.

What is Actually Happening at the MSU?

Unfortunately, the Silhouette cannot discern why there is such a discrepancy between the experiences of the PTMs and the views of the Board of Directors.

Della-Vedova weighed in with his thoughts.

“I think it really is a difference in expectations as we move through the year and we’ve had this changing paradigm of COVID. I think we have to recognize that there has been shifts there and with that, has come changes in what we need of each other in the whole . . . it is hard to make those changes.” said Della-Vedova.

Based on interviews with both parties, there seemed to be an overwhelming sense that a systemic lack of communication and mistrust could factor into this situation reaching a boiling point. Coupled with COVID-19 forcing all communications to be digital, both the PTMs and Board of Directors have likely fallen victim to this unfortunate circumstance.

“With regards to communication as well, I think just being in a COVID year has made it very challenging for everyone and email is not the most efficient way to do fast communication and also reliable communication in general . . . I think this will also dissipate, as you know, everyone returns to the regular student life experience on campus,” said Devarapalli.

PTM 2 did try to have a positive outlook on the future of the PTM/Board of Directors relationship, speaking directly to this year’s leadership team.

“We understand that your roles are frustrating, overwhelming, and difficult but this is an area we can relate on. There does not have to be fabricated tension between the VPs and PTMs. If we talked openly and honestly about the difficulties in our roles, our capacities, and the constraints of our influences we would all be better off and able to create a healthier work environment. I feel saddened that many of the PTMs complaints were met with defensiveness instead of an openness to conversation and collaboration, but hopeful that this can be reframed for future teams,” said PTM 2.

Each PTM also suggested how their roles can be improved so the issues they identified could be nipped in the bud for future years.

Suggestions such as adding more paid roles to help strengthen the team instead of relying solely on volunteer work; more training in areas directly linked to peer support; a better transition in and out of the role; as well as open communication and transparency between PTMs and the Board of Directors could all drastically improve the experiences for both parties.

Della-Vedova did point out that the MSU created new paid positions during the 2020-2021 year in the form of assistant directors to help offset some of the service directors’ responsibilities.

He also stated that the Board of Directors is directly working with Maccess to identify ways to split up the director role or add a second assistant director, recognizing that the workload might be too much for disabled folks. 

The Silhouette gave each PTM the opportunity to say something directly to the MSU leadership team; however, this statement was quite startling: “Every time I ask for your help and all you do is nod and smile without even a smidge of valuable advice, I feel small and stupid,” said PTM 1.

Both Della-Vedova and Devarapalli were taken aback by this comment.

“So first off, I want to say, obviously upsetting to read that and I very much feel for whoever wrote this and would heavily encourage them to reach out,” said Della-Vedova.

The two went on to suggest ways that the experience could be improved in the future thanks to the MSU looking to increase human resources support, but also ensuring that the in-person environment we are likely going into with the 2022-2023 term is conducive to having these types of conversations.

Looking Forward:

Next year’s VP Admin, Mitchell German, was the Spark director for the 2021-2022 term. During his election at the first SRA meeting for the academic year, German emphasized that his experience leading Spark would enable him to better provide supports for next year’s PTMs.

“I think that more than half the job of VP Admin is support, specifically for the MSU services. And having been involved in a variety of them, personally being the part-time manager for Spark . . . Support is not something that is one-size fits all. You really do have to take that individualized approach and the best way to be able to support somebody is by simply asking how do they like being supported,” said German at SRA 22A.

With German at the helm of service delivery for next year, it is expected that he’ll fall back on his PTM experience from Spark and any knowledge he may have of issues facing other services in the 2021-2022 year when it comes to assisting next year’s cohort. Della-Vedova and Devarapalli said that they’re more than willing to have a chat with the three PTMs that the Silhouette interviewed for this article, for them to be open about concerns they’ve had, if not for themselves, for their successors.

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