Photo C/O Simranjeet Singh
11.4% voter turnout brings an all-time low to recent MSU Elections history.

After a rigorous campaigning period, Simranjeet Singh has been named the McMaster Students Union the unofficial President-Elect for the 2022-2023 academic term.

"The results of the election were ratified by the MSU Elections Committee, in a meeting following the closing of polls on January 27, 2022. The Elections Committee, charged with overseeing all elections of and within the MSU, completed the campaign evaluation process by assessing fines and addressing complaints levied against candidates. In addition, the Committee witnessed and ratified the results of the tabulation of votes via Simply Voting, the MSU’s online voting portal," stated a post on the MSU website announcing results of the election on Thursday night.

C/O McMaster Students Union

The results of the election are strikingly low with a total of 3,107 out of 27,149 students casting their vote. That equates to 11.44% of the student population.

Singh obtained 1,657 votes while Denver Della-Vedova, the current MSU President running for re-election, obtained 864 votes.

586 students chose to abstain their votes.

This is the lowest voter turnout in recent MSU history. In 2020, the Silhouette reported that voter turnout reached a low of 19.6%. Although students did not vote in last year's acclaimed presidential race, current data suggests this downward trend will continue.

Andrew Mrozowski/Editor-in-Chief

At time of publication, MSU Elections has not stated why they believe the voter turnout to be so low.

While Singh has been named the unofficial President-Elect, him and Della-Vedova have five days to contest the results and appeal to MSU Elections.

Keep it locked to for our interview with the President-Elect

C/O Simranjeet Singh

Simranjeet’s Singh’s platform offers an ambitious number of ideas to various issues  

With a whooping 26 platform points, Singh brings forth a myriad of solutions to pressing issues, but not without question of feasibility. Singh’s platform hinges on extensive collaboration with numerous organizations within McMaster University and the city of Hamilton.

Student Wellness  

Singh proposes to increase the Student Wellness Center’s collaboration with a variety of McMaster Students Union groups and clubs by creating a Student Wellness Centre Advisory Committee. It would serve as a hub for student leaders to communicate their findings and concerns to the SWC.  

However, current services of the MSU already connect with students through peer support services. The creation of such a committee poses a question of redundancy given that volunteers of these services can already direct students to specific resources, such as the SWC.  

Furthermore, Singh looks to increase the number of group counselling sessions and operating hours of the SWC and to allow students access these services outside of working hours.

Rosanne Kent, the director of the SWC, confirmed Singh had consulted with her regarding this and that his goal is indeed achievable. In fact, the SWC has already been slowly increasing capacity through this academic year with the intent to bring back pre-COVID-19 service in the future.  

Building a Stronger Community 

While Singh’s desire to collaborate with Metrolinx to expand bussing and reintroduce cancelled express bus routes may be ideal to reduce student commute times, Singh does not detail any consultation with Metrolink to address the feasibility of these changes. These bus routes were likely cancelled due to reduced student ridership because of online classes and the trajectory of McMaster’s reopening remains uncertain in this current climate of the pandemic.

Singh has communicated with John McGowan, general manager of the MSU, about ensuring that bus services are reflective of student needs once students return to campus. McGowan stated that he believes his goal is achievable.    

He also hopes to encourage Metrolinx to fast track the development of the Hamilton light-rail transit line. Given that the development of the LRT line is dependent on a host of other stakeholders whose schedules differ from that of students’, Singh has not provided detail as to how actionable this goal can be.  

The feasibility of Singh’s goal to introduce student discounts to a significant number of local Hamilton businesses also raises questions given that the actual implementation of this is dependent on the businesses’ desire to do so.  

Singh wishes to lead a large-scale study to determine average rental prices, student experiences with off campus housing and use those findings to better inform students of their rights as tenants and advocate for a better housing market. He consulted with McMaster’s associate vice provost, Kim Dej, who expressed support for this study. 

However, despite the support from Dej, Singh fails to mention how this goal would accomplish something different from the resources already offered to McMaster students.  

Environmental Sustainability  

Many of Singh’s suggestions under environmental sustainability are already undertaken by the university on a regular basis with community partners. For example, Singh’s proposal to work with Hospitality Services to reduce food waste and address student food insecurity is addressed by the student-run MSU Food Collective Centre with non-profit projects. Hospitality Services are also aiming to increase its purchasing of local produce.  

Singh’s suggestion to collaborate with the Office of Sustainability to develop a waste management strategy to audit the total amount of waste produced on campus within a year is an ambitious idea. However, such an audit might not be an accurate reflection of McMaster’s waste production given possible reduced student and staff presence on campus amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, this would require a close partnership with the city of Hamilton. Singh has not stated if he has consulted anyone with the city. 

Creating More Equitable Education  

Singh's suggestion of a provincial tuition freeze with the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance does not consider that the MSU and the OUSA already officially hold the position of freezing tuition.  

He hopes to advocate for a province-wide initiative that will support university funding through avenues outside of the pockets of students themselves. Singh plans to work with the MSU vice president of education given the VP’s delegatory position at OUSA meetings. He has consulted the current VP Education, Siobhan Teel, who expressed support for Singh’s idea. However, Singh’s platform does not provide further elaboration on how this funding will be acquired.

Singh’s desire to advocate for reduced textbook costs by replacing them with Online Educational Resources is valuable as a means of encouraging more equitable education. He has conversed with associate vice provost Kim Dej, who stated that introducing more OER options is feasible.

However, Singh points out that McMaster lacks OER funding. He plans to introduce student research assistant positions to support the development of OERs but does not clarify whether there is adequate funding to do so.

Career Development Support  

Singh’s suggestion to create more opportunities to aid students in their career development with the creation of services that aid in resume writing and applications are already offered by the university’s Human Resources Services. McMaster provides networking opportunity events in the form of Volunteer Fairs as well as many career events hosted throughout the year by the Student Success Centre and student-run clubs such as the McMaster Undergraduate Research in Science Association.  

Singh has extensive ideas; however, his platform would benefit from further clarification as to how his approaches will differentiate themselves from many of the services already at works within McMaster.  

C/O Denver Della-Vedova

Meet Denver Della-Vedova, one of the candidates running to become MSU president 

Denver Della-Vedova is running for re-election as the McMaster Students Union president. After graduating as a life sciences student in 2021, Della-Vedova was acclaimed to the position of MSU president for the 2021-2022 year.  

His platform features three main pillars, which collectively highlight a total of fourteen major points that he hopes to address in the role of MSU president. These three pillars are amplifying diverse voices, prioritizing student stability and keeping momentum.  

Amplifying Voices 

Della-Vedova wishes to continue the MSU’s relationship with the Undergraduates of Canadian Research-Intensive Universities. In his platform, Della-Vedova states that this group has played a key role in lobbying the federal government for students’ interests and he proposes a $1 fee to ensure that the MSU maintains their member status. Della-Vedova also commits to advocating for Indigenous students and undergraduate research funding.  

His second goal is environmental sustainability. More specifically, he hopes to expand the reusable container program and to consider more eco-friendly non-reusable container options. 

His third goal is to increase student advocacy engagement, which he hopes to do by providing students with an MSU Avenue 2 Learn tab, which he says should be available by summer. Additionally, he hopes to utilize the communications department to reach more students.  

His fourth goal is faculty society support. He hopes to better connect Student Representative Assembly caucuses with their respective faculties. Further, he intends to investigate the possibility of pooling resources across the MSU and faculty societies for collaborative events.  

Finally, he hopes to increase the university’s accountability and engagement, potentially by creating an accessible Instagram page for McMaster’s important updates or by creating a Linktree containing reliable McMaster news and information sources.  

Student Stability 

Under the umbrella of student stability, Della-Vedova hopes to address housing instability by raising awareness about where to access housing resources, continuing legal clinics from this year and updating the off-campus housing website.  

Della-Vedova is prioritizing financial stability in his platform. He plans to continue sharing and optimally allocating resources, to push the goals of the OUSA Responding to COVID-19 policy paper and to make jobs more accessible to students.  

His third stability-related goal is mental health; he aims to make current Student Wellness Centre services available more frequently, focus on telehealth and online booking, engage students in positive social events and follow the recommendations of the OUSA Student Health and Wellness paper.  

Finally, Della-Vedova aims to focus on food security. Specifically, he intends to work with the Food Collective Centre to get support from local businesses, looking at potentially expanding the gift card program or buying food in bulk to distribute to students in need. He also intends to make campus food options more allergy friendly. 

Keeping Momentum 

Under the umbrella of keeping momentum, Della-Vedova explains the projects that he would like to continue from this year into next year, as well as logical next steps from projects completed this year.  

Firstly, Della-Vedova wants to improve Welcome Week by implementing a better fee system involving cash advances to faculties, surveying first-year students about the effectiveness of the events and providing better organizational support.  

Della-Vedova's second goal under this umbrella is the prioritization of first-year students. He hopes to better share MSU services through the Archway program and community advisor floor meetings. He hopes to give presentations about the MSU to students in residence.  

His third goal is to improve delivery of online classes. He plans to do this by generating a set of guidelines to ensure the consistency of online course delivery in areas such as types of software, quality of lectures and availability of recordings. 

His fourth goal related to keeping momentum is to increase internal support and student government engagement. He aims to accomplish this through the previously mentioned MSU A2L page and by increasing communications between the Board of Directors and the SRA. Further, he plans to circulate the “Who’s Who in the MSU” document more widely and to lengthen board terms by two weeks to allow for more training time.  

Finally, Della-Vedova aims to improve Student Accessibility Services. He draws attention to the accessibility barrier of requiring a diagnosis from within the last five years and he proposes offering incentives to notetakers so that more students volunteer for this job and are compensated for their work.  

To learn more about Della-Vedova's platform, visit his Instagram page @denverformsu2022.  

C/O Simranjeet Singh

Meet Simranjeet Singh, one of the candidates running to become MSU president 

Simranjeet Singh is a fourth-year biomedical discovery and commercialization student at McMaster. Currently, Singh serves as the McMaster Students Union’s associate vice president: services. He is currently running to become the next MSU president.  

Singh has provided a platform of five core foundations: student wellness, building a stronger community, environmental sustainability, creating more equitable education and career development support.  

Student Wellness 

Singh emphasizes his commitment to student wellness. 

He wants to increase collaboration between the Student Wellness Centre and various student groups around campus, including the MSU. To facilitate this, Singh proposes the creation of a Student Wellness Centre Advisory Committee to serve as a direct liaison between the SWC and leaders of various student bodies. With this, he wishes to increase the number of support groups and staff at SWC enabling a more students to access the service. Singh also hopes to expand Thrive Week, a service offered by the SWC to teach students about stress management and anxiety He believes Thrive Week is underutilized and looks to better inform student societies of the event to garner greater engagement. 

Building a Stronger Community 

Singh proposes a number of solutions to strengthen the McMaster and Hamilton communities.  

He wishes to work with Metrolinx to expand bus service during Welcome Week and reintroduce cancelled express buses. Singh states that this will ease the commute to McMaster for off-campus students and allow the city to plan effective transit routes when taking into consideration peak student times. 

To address housing concerns, Singh wants to conduct a study to determine average rental prices, availability and demand in Ward 1 of Hamilton by collaborating with partners such as Spark: A Centre for Social Science Research Innovation and the MacPherson Institute. The findings of this research study will serve as evidence to advocate for a more affordable housing market for renting students.  

Singh wants to utilize his own experiences of working with provincial and municipal governments to help inform students of their rights and obligations as tenants.  Singh believes this initiative will increase student awareness of bylaws and their rights which will better equip them to navigate finding off-campus housing. 

He wants to support students facing income insecurity or poverty through support increased and bursaries, specifically through the McMaster Access Strategy, a group dedicated to aiding students from marginalized communities in Hamilton access post-secondary education.  

Singh will advocate to implement the Hamilton light-rail transit as soon as possible.  

Environmental Sustainability 

Singh also focuses on increasing environmental sustainability across campus.  

Singh will create a waste management initiative to better understand what waste is produced at McMaster facilities and offer solutions to help this waste be reduced and safely sorted. Believing this to be an overlooked issue on campus, Singh hopes to work directly with facility services, McMaster University Student Center management and the office of sustainability to perform audits to document waste production on campus and brainstorm how this waste can be sustainably managed.  

Singh looks to work with various faculties to develop more sustainable lab practices. He hopes to launch a pilot project that catalogues waste in labs, especially as it relates to the use of plastics. The findings from this project will create a list of best practices to implement within labs to reduce waste.  

Singh wants to work with hospitality services to better understand production of food waste and craft methods to reduce waste production. He has a two-fold plan. First, reduce overall production of excess food waste by campus services. Second, distributing waste generated to disadvantaged students and Hamiltonians experiencing food insecurity.  

Creating More Equitable Education  

Singh aims to create a more equitable educational future for students. 

Singh wants to increase the adoption of open educational resources to reduce and even eliminate textbook costs. He will advocate to substantially increase funding for OER and push to include this as part of the professor tenure process. To kickstart this, Singh will collaborate with the Associate Vice Provost, the OER committee and McMaster Libraries to implement OERs permanently within McMaster’s practices. 

Furthermore, he plans to introduce job opportunities in which students may work as research assistants to help develop OER alongside professors. This will better student-faculty relations and alleviate professors of the responsibility of developing OER, hoping to implement them faster. 

Singh looks to increase experiential learning opportunities to give students more hands-on skills. In collaboration with the office of community engagement, the Student Success Center and MacChangers, he hopes to reintroduce cancelled experiential learning opportunities. 

Singh intends to work towards a tuition freeze and a reduction in any more increased tuition costs. Singh plans to advocate for a moratorium on increase in tuition for the next three years and work with the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance to develop province-wide strategies to increase university funding outside of students.  

Career Development Support  

Singh hopes to increase career development support.  

He aims to increase online chat hours of the Student Success Center to allow students more opportunities to communicate within the department.  

Singh plans use the MSU to help support students with resumes, cover letters and other applications. 

Singh hopes to foster a greater number of educational opportunities so students learn of opportunities that exist after graduation and gain necessary insights into potential careers. He hopes to centralize information about existing career supports and create more networking opportunities in tandem with faculties, student societies and the SSC.  

To learn more about Singh’s platform, visit his Instagram page @vote4simranjeet

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