By: Eden Wondmeneh
Faculty representatives and Maroons can shape incoming students’ initial impression of the McMaster University community. They guide us through Welcome Week and are meant to play the role of mentor and role model.
A few days into Welcome Week, new students grow accustomed to the vibrant suits and are well-aware of the colour distinctions of each faculty. Suddenly the suit, which at first glance may appear as a horrendous fashion statement, is at the top of many first-year students’ wish lists.
For some students who hope to mentor and inspire incoming students, becoming a faculty representative during Welcome Week is not feasible.
Even if they do make it through the competitive application process, they are unable to participate due to representative fees that candidates are not made aware of at any point during the application process.
On Jan. 22, a call was released on the DeGroote Commerce Society Facebook page for 2019 business faculty representatives. Applications were due by Feb. 1, with prospective green suits contacted for interviews.
The role requires faculty representatives to attend two training sessions prior to summer break and another session the week prior to Welcome Week. Green suits are also highly encouraged to participate in May at Mac and Shine-o-rama, both orientation events running during the summer break.
Despite the large time commitment and the cost of the $60 green suit itself, students who made it through the application process and ultimately became a green suit, were immensely excited about the experience to come.
This excitement, however, was soured with the introduction of a representative fee of over a hundred dollars that was not advertised at any point during the application process.
The representative fee is a confusing, hidden fee that prospective and new faculty representatives are appalled by. The fee is estimated to be around $120.00, but with the McMaster Students Union funding cuts, new representatives expect this to be a low-ball estimate and have yet to be informed of the final cost.
This cost is said to cover training, food and participation in Welcome Week. This contribution to Welcome Week especially annoys students who never signed up to subsidize part of Welcome Week that as first-year students we already paid a mandatory $120.98 First-Year Orientation levy for.
For business students fees to join clubs specific to their faculty is not uncommon. Most clubs require students to pay a small fee for registration.
However, in the case of the representative fee that impacts all faculty reps, the fee is substantial, and no one made them aware of the fee prior to joining. With a lack of discussion of financial support, some students are genuinely happy they didn’t make the cut.
It is simply unfair for students who underwent the incredibly extensive process to become a faculty representative to be cut from the position because of an inability to pay for the high fees.
The faculty representative fee ensures that those who are willing and chosen to volunteer their time to enrich and support incoming students secure their spot by coughing up money.
If this is the inequitable model the green suits and other faculty society representatives decide to rely on, then they should at least be transparent to their applicants.
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In the year 2016, companies continue to put new products onto shelves that are distinctly marketed for specific genders. Obviously, this is problematic for many reasons.
For one, unnecessarily gendered products avouch the gender binary. Today, men and women live very similar lives. We grow up together, attend the same universities and work in the same offices. There are few distinctions that require us to constantly think about how our gender dictates our role in society.
But when products that we use in our daily lives fall into two distinct categories, we are reminded that society really does see important differences between male and female. Affirming this gender binary becomes very problematic for those who don’t fit into it. With the silent assimilation of these products onto the shelves of our local stores, we render those who reside outside the typical gender binary invisible.
Obviously, these types of products are most impactful on those whose assigned gender at birth do not conform to their identity. However, it’s a problem for everyone else as well. From what we wear to how we move and talk, we make efforts to act in gendered ways in order to conform to what is expected of us, forcing ourselves to fit into the binary and reinforcing needless stereotypes that further make it difficult for those who do not identify with a certain gender. Often, gendered products not only reinforce the binary, but also suggest that women and men are expected to play unequal roles in society. Consider toys for children: girls are dentists’ assistants and boys are dentists; girls are princesses and men are kings.
In addition, there is a financial disparity that results due to gendered products. While it could be (wrongfully) argued that these products are only things for “emotionally sensitive” people to fuss over, there are real-world consequences as well. It has often been shown that the masculine and feminine version of a product are not priced the same. Typically, the one marketed towards women is more expensive. Due to the distinctions between even the most benign products (e.g. razors), it slowly becomes engrained within shoppers that there is a “right” product for them, that it makes sense to shell out more money to buy a product that most suits their needs as either male or female. However, this is but a marketing ploy; realistically, there are no differences between the two products. Women are therefore paying more for products that aren’t much different besides being the colour pink.
In truth, unnecessarily gendered products are as problematic as they are dumb. Companies often employ the excuse that gendered products are beneficial to shoppers because men and women are fundamentally different. For instance, many of these products advertise that the version for women is smaller than the one for men in order to fit women better. Gendered ear plugs are a prime example of this.
Again, this is an issue for many people who do not fall into the two distinct categorizations. Moreover, to argue against the reasoning behind these products, it would make more sense to create earbuds of various sizes and let the buyer decide what is the best for them instead of making assumptions on their behalf. Gendering ear plugs and having the distinction be “smaller for women, larger for men” is a vast generalization. These types of products make larger women or smaller men feel invisible. In a society that already pushes for women to be small and dainty, we don’t need earbuds to reinforce this outdated notion. The same goes for the stereotypes we perpetuate against men. Companies need to start catching up with the times and realize that what they may think as harmless marketing tactics do cause very real and upsetting ripples in the world they create their products for.