Photos C/O Ryan Tse

Attendance at the annual McMaster Students Union General Assembly hit a new low this year, with a total of eight members showing up.

Eight students represent 0.0293 per cent of the MSU’s student membership. The number of students needed to reach quorum this year was 724.

We're here at the annual MSU General Assembly! The assembly officially started at 4pm, but there are <10 attendees (including the full MSU board of directors) pic.twitter.com/Kf9YvrJQLL

— The Silhouette (@theSilhouette) March 20, 2019

MSU president Ikram Farah delivered an address at the start of the assembly, speaking about the recent Ontario government cuts to the Ontario Student Assistance Program and new Student Choice Initiative guidelines.

Following Farah’s remarks, a motion to adjourn the meeting passed unanimously.

The assembly lasted a little longer than five minutes.

GA frequently sees a low turnout. Last year and in 2016, approximately fifty students attended. In 2017, just 27 students were present.

Still, this year marked a sharp decline in attendance.

Moreover, unlike in previous years, no GA motions were submitted to the MSU by the March 13 deadline.

The low turnout raises questions as to whether the MSU sufficiently advertised GA, which is the main constitutionally-mandated meeting for students to pass motions affecting the entire student body.

MSU speaker Elizabeth Wong said that many channels were used to promote GA, including social media pushes, text messages and posters and banners in public spaces.

However, Student Representative Assembly social science caucus leader Fawziyah Ali said that promotion this year was less effective than in previous years.

“In terms of Facebook promotion, poster promotion, I don’t think it was as advertised as it could be, so people didn’t know that it was happening,” Ali said. “There should have been better promotion, because MSU GA is an important event, especially to bridge that gap between the MSU and students.”

Student engagement with the MSU, particularly regarding elections, has been relatively positive this year, with a record number of students running in the SRA general elections and increased candidate turnout for first-year council elections.

These increases in MSU engagement have been largely attributed to improved promotion efforts from the MSU.

This year, the GA event page on Facebook page was created only one night before the event, and a total of 164 students were invited.

For comparison, last year’s event page included 212 invitations and was created more than a week in advance.

GA has hit quorum before, most recently in 2015 and 2012. While this was largely due to the boycott, divestments and sanctions motion in 2015, the high attendance in 2012 is considered to have been the result of an extensive promotion campaign run by the board of directors.

“It’s not like you want contentious issues to happen so people come out. That’s not at all what it is. You hope that there are no contentious issues, but there is always something to talk about,” Ali said.

Vania Pagniello, an incoming SRA representative, noted there may still be a significant gap when it comes to educating students about how GA works and why it is important.

“I think the average student doesn’t even know what a motion is,” Pagniello said.

Ali speculates that students may also be looking to non-MSU networks, such as the Hamilton Student Mobilization Network, to raise awareness of social issues.

“I think there’s some disenchantment in terms of students and their relationship to the MSU,” said Ali.

Until more is done, it seems that GA will continue to be an under-utilized tool for effecting change on campus.

 

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Photos by Kyle West

By: Andrew Mrozowski

Tucked away on Barton Street East are a ton of local Hamilton shops with a lot to offer. On Barton Street East and Emerald Street North, a coffee shop is quickly approaching its one-year anniversary. Aptly named Emerald Coffee Co, the space creates a larger than life quality that has been ten years in the making.

Owner Phil Green grew up in Montreal. For the past ten years, Green worked in the automotive industry and lived in the United States, but he yearned for change. Leaving his job with thoughts of opening a coffee shop at the back of his head, Green made the choice to move back to Canada and live in Hamilton.

“I was walking my dog and saw that this place had a lot of potential. The neighbourhood was filled with young families, but they had to walk 15 minutes to get a coffee…A coffees hop is the hub of a neighbourhood and I wanted to create that hub here,” said Green.

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id="261" gal_title="Emerald Coffee Co. 1"]

In the summer of 2017, Green embarked out into Hamilton to try and find a place. Setting up home base on Barton Street East, the owner knew that he was taking a chance with this spot.

“I took a risk and opened in a location where most people wouldn’t have but once the idea was in my head, I wanted Barton Street. We wouldn’t have been the same if we opened somewhere else,” said Green.

The doors to Emerald Coffee Co. were officially set to open in February 2018 but had to be delayed as the building was not up to code. Green eventually opened a month later on March 31, 2018 and received an unanticipated warm welcome.

“It’s been great! The neighbourhood has been amazing, I’ve met amazing people, and the coffee scene in Hamilton is friendly. It doesn’t feel like competition here, it feels like we are all friends. There is a real sense of community,” said Green.

Emerald Coffee Co. is a unique coffee shop as everything they use is natural. Green makes his own vanilla syrup using vanilla beans, a rose syrup from dried rose petals, and goes to the United States to get hazelnut milk.

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id="262" gal_title="Emerald Coffee Co. 2"]

With a wide range of espresso-based beverages such as lattes, and americanos, Green also has kombucha and cold-brew on tap all year around. Emerald Coffee Co. also gets in a different roasts of coffee every two weeks to keep things fresh. A fan-favourite of Emerald is their hazelnut latte made with real hazelnut milk instead of using traditional hazelnut syrup.

“We try to make everything as genuine as possible,” said Green.

About once a month, Green also develops a special seasonal drink. Bringing back a fan-favourite, the rose latte will be featured for the shop’s one-year anniversary along with one-dollar coffee throughout the last weekend of March.

Aside from coffee drinks, the shop also has sandwiches and salads for customers to enjoy as well as sweets from local Hamilton bakeries such as Donut Monster.

Currently, Green is trying to develop a way to bring a nightlife crowd to Barton Street East.

“It’s a really gay-friendly neighbourhood with a lot of the owners being queer, and we are welcoming to everyone. Hopefully in the near future, I’ll have some coffee cocktails to serve in the evening because we really need a nighttime crowd in the neighbourhood,” explained Green.

Isolated from the hustle and bustle of the downtown core, Emerald Coffee Co. is a great place to study or enjoy a great beverage with friends in a warm and inviting atmosphere amongst a community that is working together to show more of what Barton Street East has to offer.

 

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Photos by Catherine Goce

As the freezing cold wind twirled snow into the night air last Thursday, the inside of Centre[3] for Print and Media Arts was filled with warmth. Chai was brewing and connections were being made as members of the community gathered inside for the first Zine Club meeting.

The free club is the first of its kind at Centre[3] and is designed for zine creators, writers, artists and all others interested in the culture surrounding these DIY publications. The meetings are set for the second Thursday of every month.

The club coordinators are Centre[3] program coordinator Sonali Menezes and administrative coordinator Mariel Rutherford. They had no idea what kind of turnout to expect for this first meeting and were overwhelmed as people continuously trickled in from the cold, quickly filling up the prepared seats.

The idea for the club was sparked by a desire to create a space for Hamilton’s zine creators, who often call themselves “zinesters”, and welcome them to the facilities at Centre[3].

“[I]t really came out of trying to engage with a younger membership and trying to show people what we offer… [S]ometimes Center[3] as a printing house can be really intimidating to people who are younger so… we just want people to know that our doors are open,” Rutherford said.

However, it was not just a younger crowd that came through the doors on Jan. 10 but individuals of all ages. Nor were only zine creators interested. While some were zine artists like emerging artist-in-residence Laura K. Watson, others had never read a zine before or did not align themselves with an artistic form.

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The first meeting was structured to get everyone on the same page. After an introductory icebreaker, Menezes and Rutherford passed out various magazines. Together, the group made a list of themes present and feelings evoked. Flipping through, people repeatedly noted the presence of advertisements, advice championing success and models with “perfect” faces and bodies. People commented on how it made them feel broke and insecure.

Next Rutherford and Menezes handed out zines from Menezes’ personal library. The reactions were notably different as participants commented how the zines were diverse, inclusive, informative and funny.

The difference highlights what has drawn people to zines throughout its long history. Zines are traceable back to the science fiction fans of 1920s and 1930s. From the poets of the 1950s to punk movement members of the 1970s, individuals through the decades have been drawn to the idea of being able to share their own ideas in a DIY way.

It is also what has made Menezes and Rutherford zine creators themselves. Rutherford got started recently started making zines of her illustrations last year while Menezes has been making zines for the past seven years.

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id="185" gal_title="Zine Club 2"]

“I got started in school… I just really caught on to zines and I just love making them. I love going to zine fairs and sharing zines with people and meeting zinesters. Zinesters are really nice people. Like the best way to make friends when you move to a city is to go to zine fair,” explained Menezes.

In the spirit of zine culture, the meeting was also very DIY. Rutherford and Menezes had participants create a list of what they wanted zine club to be. Ideas ranged from having question and answer, information and skill share sessions and workshops to hosting zine exchanges, hangouts and working on a collaborative zine.

When it finally came to creating at the end of the night, laughter echoed alongside the music playing in the background. The coordinators wanted participants to feel safe, creatively stimulated and supported while occupying the space.

“[W]e want to create… a space where people can find their niche. And like zines are very niche-y and they're very specific. Come find your niche! Like find the spot where you fit in... It's so nice connecting with other weirdos,” Menezes said.

Everyone created a page to be included in a collaborative zine. As neighbours shared glue, scissors and markers, they also shared their ideas and got to know one another. Each person brought their own talents to the page.

100 Word Copy: Centre[3] for Print and Media Arts hosted the first meeting of its first Zine Club on Jan. 10. With a turnout larger than expected, the monthly club will continue to meet on the second Thursday of each month. It is a space for zinesters and those curious about zines to gather, work together and hang out. Will you be checking out the Zine Club?

Photo C/O Kyle West

The McMaster Students Union Student Representative Assembly held their most recent meeting on Nov. 11 in Gilmour Hall. Here are some key items that were discussed.[spacer height="20px"]

[spacer height="20px"]The next SRA meeting will be held on Nov. 25 at 5 p.m. in Gilmour Hall room 111.

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Welcome to the live-blog of the Student Representative Assembly (SRA) meeting for October. You can watch the event live at this link, or in the embedded player below. Online reporter Shane Madill will update this post as the proceedings occur You can also get live updates on our Twitter page.

6:50 p.m. - Technical issues with the projector is causing a delay. 15 minute presentation followed by a 15 minute question period from the Ontario Public Interest Research Group-McMaster (OPIRG) to come.

7:07 p.m. - Questioning period has now concluded for the OPIRG projected expenses presentation. Most questions were directed at the issue of opt-outs. The total projected programming expenses totals $107,042. Full-time undergraduate students were charged $7.47 as a refundable levy.

7:15 p.m. – Announcement of a new annual open accessibility forum on Nov. 27 in CIBC Hall, intended as a safe space to discuss issues, and to gather feedback about accessibility from McMaster students.

7:28 p.m. - Work is being done on a campaign for minority groups to better express their voices and opinions on campus. Other priorities stated by MSU president Teddy Saull also include safety on campus, and the importance of a response coordinator.

7:31 p.m. - A reminder of the upcoming Hamilton mayoral elections, and the MSU mayoral debate taking place in MUSC on Oct. 22 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the MUSC Atrium. More information can be found here.

8:20 p.m. - After discussion on Women and Gender Equity Network (WGEN) and other issues, the committee has passed a vote to re-adjust the ordering of the agenda.

8:30 p.m. - Saull withdraws motion to allocate $215,000 to Campus Events towards a year-end celebration. There are still two more options for $170,000 or $95,000 that are in play.

8:45 p.m. - Discussion from Saull about the background behind the year-end celebration motion. Lack of details attributed to "not wanting to put the cart before the horse," and wanting to first discuss motion to garner feedback.

10:50 p.m. - Options 2 ($170,000) and 3 ($95,000) for the year-end celebration have both failed to pass by tallies of 0-24-4 and 7-15-5 respectively.

11:10 p.m. - Motion passed unanimously to expend $10,000 to increase the capacity of the 2015 Frost Week concert.

11:17 p.m. - Motion passed unanimously for CFMU hardware upgrades with a cost of $9,395.92.

12:35 p.m. - Motion to recommend a one-week break beginning in the fall of 2015 to the Fall Break Committee passes by a tally of 18-9-1.

Come next fall, full-time students may not have to pay an extra fee if they switch to part-time status in the summer.

On Sept. 29, the Student Representative Assembly voted to nullify a 27-year agreement between the McMaster Students Union (MSU) and the McMaster Association of Part-Time Students (MAPS).

The end of the agreement suggests summer MAPS fees will no longer be collected from students who have already paid fees to the MSU. The decision would be imposed in 2014/15, barring any disagreement from the University’s board of governors.

MAPS would have its budget of roughly $500,000, funded entirely by student fees, slashed by about 50 per cent.

Prior to the SRA vote, full-time students who took a part-time course load during the summer had to pay $7 per unit to MAPS despite paying an MSU fee covering a full 12 months. MSU president David Campbell told the SRA at the Sept. 29 meeting that they had a “moral obligation to act” to end the duplication of fees.

At the end of the discussion period, the SRA voted to end the agreement 26-0 with three abstentions.

“The MSU did not like one provision in an agreement so it threw the baby out with the bathwater.  Frankly we don’t know what they want now,” said interim MAPS director Kyle Johansen.

Johansen was hired in July to pick up the pieces of the MAPS spending scandal that had former director Sam Minniti fired.

Regardless of the outcome, Johansen said, "MAPS has no intention of abandoning part-time students. We will continue to advocate for all part-time students."

At the SRA meeting, the atmosphere was tense as Johansen hurriedly read off a statement on why the agreement should not be dissolved. Johansen wanted the matter to be discussed in November rather than be decided last night.

“A year ago, a unilateral decision to end this agreement might have been acceptable to the university community. I don’t think that’s the case today,” Johansen said. He said the new MAPS board was more willing and capable to discuss the issue but needed more time.

In response, MSU president David Campbell said the MSU board was frustrated with MAPS’ unwillingness to negotiate or meet until Aug. 8 despite repeated attempts over eight months.

“When we met with [Johansen] on Aug. 8, he told us in no uncertain terms that he did not consider what we were discussing a priority. He had bigger things that he was hired to address,”Campbell said, after the SRA meeting.

“Our only option was to unilaterally decide that the agreement was null and void,”Campbell said. He added that he did not see how putting off a decision would change the situation.

Campbell said the motion to end the duplication of student fees was in the works in June 2012, before the MAPS spending scandal was exposed in January. Ending the agreement was also part of Campbell’s presidential platform earlier this year.

After the vote, MAPS issued a statement condemning the MSU’s decision to walk away from the contract.

“Unlike the MSU Board who are full-time paid employees, all members of the MAPS Board are volunteers. They have been working practically non-stop to save this organization for seven months,” the statement reads.

MAPS questioned whether or not students could still transfer between the two student associations under a 2007 agreement amending the initial contract.

Campbell dismissed the claims made in MAPS’ statement.

Campbell said the MSU “fully intends to uphold the transferability mechanism.”

“We have an agreement here that is extremely unusual – there is no exit clause except if both parties come together,”Campbell said, of the 1986 agreement. “We’ve done everything we could to negotiate in good faith. This was our only option.”

“In our bylaws, if you’re a member in September, you’re covered for 12 months,” Campbell said.

MAPS stated that their board will meet this week “to review the options are available to us, but our primary focus is to finish the task at hand and present revised by-laws and policies to the Provost for his comments.”

Watch the live feed from the Sept. 29 SRA meeting. The MSU-MAPS discussion begins at approximately 2:48:00.

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