Photo by Kyle West

With the campaign slogan “#YourTimeIsNow,” Jeffrey Campana promises that he will address previously overlooked projects and student concerns. However, many of Campana’s platform points lack key details and are already being pursued by the McMaster Students Union.

For example, Campana states that there is a need for the MSU to distribute free menstrual products to washrooms on campus. However, free products are already offered to students through the MSU Student Health Education Centre, the Student Wellness Centre and the Women and Gender Equity Network.

Campana’s plan to add the products to all-gender bathrooms could be beneficial, but it is unclear who would be responsible for stocking the washrooms and how much value the initiative would add.

Campana’s plan to standardize MSU position descriptions and reform hiring practices involves much of MSU vice president (Administration) Kristina Epifano’s existing work.

Epifano is already currently reviewing the job description of part-time managers and other roles across the MSU.

The same issue arises with Campana’s plans to expand The Grind and improve on-campus lighting. MSU vice president (Finance) Scott Robinson has been working with a team since last semester to review the business model of The Grind and look at the possibility for expansion.

MSU president Ikram Farah has also been working with city staff and McMaster facility services to gradually transition on-campus lighting to LED.

Some of Campana’s larger project proposals suffer from a lack of specificity.

For instance, it is doubtful that Campana will be able to add an ice rink to campus, especially by his proposed date of January 2020.

Efforts to build an outdoor community rink in 2008-2009 and 2014-2015 through the Student Life Enhancement Fund failed due to insurance and accessibility issues.

Robinson confirmed that not much has changed regarding those factors since then.

It also remains unclear how Campana will find funding for a project that was estimated to cost at least $100,000 in the past.

Campana’s proposal to create a polling station on campus seems to ignore the difficulty associated with the initiative.

An on-campus polling station was pulled by the city in 2010 and has not come close to being reintroduced since.

Across Campana’s platform points, there is reliance on MSU initiatives that were either unsuccessfully advocated for or are already in the works.

 

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Photo by Kyle West

Josh Marando’s 12 platform points are broad reaching and address a variety of student concerns, from student safety to internal McMaster students union operations.

Marando’s campaign focuses on improving campus amenities, including study spaces and food courts. However, there is significant overlap between Marando’s platform and existing plans to increase spaces for students.

For instance, Marando’s “Revitalize MUSC” platform point outlines strategies to create lounge space within the McMaster University Student Centre by renovating the third floor terrace and Clubspace. Marando also aims to create an additional MUSC food court to address overcrowding in La Piazza.

The facilities planned for the student activity building also overlap with another one of Marando’s platform points related to food accessibility. Marando’s plan introduces “TwelvEighty 2 Go,” a system to supplement TwelvEighty’s existing take out system to allow for more grab and go meals.

According to Richard Haja, food and beverage manager of TwelvEighty Restaurant, Marando has not contacted TwelvEighty management to assess the feasibility of this plan.

Additionally, Haja stated that there are plans to create a similar food take out system in the new student activity building.

Marando’s platform also focuses on reducing the costs of education and improving campus infrastructure. However, the platform does not give proper consideration to funding sources for these initiatives.

Marando plans to lobby the provincial government to ease the upfront costs of education through tuition freezes for domestic and international students and program based Ontario student assistance program funding.

Marando also aims to improve campus infrastructure by increasing the deferred maintenance budget by $12 million per year. His platform states that this will be accomplished in part by applying for governmental grants.

However, the current provincial government has expressed its commitment to cutting government spending and reducing deficits.

In October, the Ford government cancelled more than $300 million dollar funding for university and college campus expansions in Markham, Milton and Brampton.

It is unclear whether Marando’s platform has properly considered the current provincial government’s funding priorities, which call into question the feasibility of certain platform points.

 

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Photos by Catherine Goce

By Donna Nadeem

Following of last year’s particularly low McMaster Students Union presidential voter turnout rate and suspicions that not all students received an email allowing them to vote, the MSU elections department has been making key changes to its email voting system.

In particular, MSU elections department investigated any technical issues with the MSU’s voting system Simply Voting. Ultimately, they found out that any students who marked MSU’s election emails as junk mail did not receive future emails from the MSU due to Canadian anti-spam legislation.

The elections department not only runs the elections for the MSU but for many clubs and faculty societies within the McMaster community. For instance, their services also facilitate the elections for four major faculty societies: the McMaster Science Society, McMaster Engineering Society, the McMaster Humanities Society and the McMaster Social Science Society.

[spacer height="20px"]As such, Simply Voting plays a significant role in facilitating voting in McMaster’s student elections.

This year, the elections department worked with Simply Voting to introduce Mac ID authentication into the voting system. This means that students will no longer need just their email to gain access to their ballot. Using the link to msumcmaster.ca/vote, students can now also use their McMaster login credentials to vote. Ballots remain secret and identifiable information is not collected.

“The new system was tested this past summer and during First Year Council Election which just finished, and no issues were reported,” said Uwais Patel, the MSU elections department chief returning officer.

Conveniently, the integration of Mac ID means that students can access their ballot without receiving an email.

“We will continue to schedule initial invitations to vote and periodic reminders to those who have not voted yet,” said Patel. “Moving forward, the email blasts sent should ensure maximum deliverability, but will be complemented with the promotion of our new voting link. Regardless, students will be able to access their ballot easily,” said Patel.

Moving to a MAC ID authentication system is expected to make voting more accessible and the process of voting more reliable. Voters are no longer reliant on email messages generated by Simply Voting to login.

This year, there was an unprecedented number of candidates running in the FYC elections, with 12 simultaneous elections occurring during the campaigning and polling periods. This was the first test for the new voting method, no issues with which were reported.

Voter turnout for the 2018 MSU FYC chair and vice chair election was only 21.6 per cent, with 1,373 students voting this year. Turnout for residence chair elections sat at 31.8 per cent, with 665 students voting. However, this marked a notable rise from last year’s 14.6 per cent FYC voter turnout.

The feedback received revealed that students appreciated being able to use the msumcmaster.ca/vote link to promote voting themselves.

On the FYC ballot, an optional question asked students for feedback regarding the work of the department. In the coming weeks, the MSU elections department will be carefully looking though those comments for more insight into potential future service enhancements.

“Email is simply one communication tool to drive voters to the voting link where the login to a ballot will be located. Therefore, spam filters will not have any impact on the election process,” said Patel.

However, students still need to click the link in the first place. In addition, the number of students who voted in the FYC election was quite low compared to the total first year student population. With these technological changes to the voting system, only future elections will tell if voter turnout will make a comeback in the winter presidential race.

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