Photo by Kyle West

By: Eden Wondmeneh

As a first-year student living on residence, I had to cough up an outrageous amount of money for a mediocre living experience.

Following a $600 residence deposit, residence can cost anywhere from $5,800 to $8,825, not including the additional, mandatory cost of a meal plan that ranges from $2,975 to $4,735.

Separate from the fees, incoming students wishing to have a guaranteed residence space on-campus must achieve, at minimum, an 81.5 per cent in their senior year of high school.

It’s as if an acceptance to McMaster is not enough to attend the university, with residence being the only option for many out-of-province students.

Even if you find yourself as one of the almost 3700 students living on McMaster residence, you are expected to move out promptly after your final exam in April. In fact, you are expected to leave residence by 3:00 p.m. on the very next day.

With the average cost of living at Mac being just under $12,000, this deadline does not fit with what students have paid for. It likely exists in order to stagger students’ departure as a way to prevent chaos and large wait times, but for many students it’s an impossible deadline to meet.

As it is an odd request for students to pack up their entire dorm so quickly after their final exams, students with ‘legitimate’ reasons for not being able to meet the deadline can apply for an extension.

Those that can apply for this extension are international and out-of-province students with travel requirements, those with exceptional circumstances or those with academic requirements to fulfill like a new exam or deferred lab. But even if a student has one of these ‘legitimate’ reasons, there is still a chance that the extension won’t be granted.

Ultimately, the terms of the extension application are made so that students who have assignment accommodations, need time before their new lease or sublet agreements take affect, have extracurricular commitments or have storage needs till the end of term have no options and are scrambling to find alternative accommodations.

It’s as if these aren’t legitimate reasons to need to stay in a dorm room, that you have already paid for, until the official end of term.

I am currently struggling to figure out what to do come the end of term. My exams happen to fall on the earlier spectrum of exam season, and since my family is scattered across America during my assigned move-out date, I’m stuck between an alarmingly expensive taxi ride back home or a cheaper but nightmarish, impossible GO bus trip with my 40 pieces of luggage.

My situation is much easier to deal with than those who are from out of town or students with accessibility accommodations, who need to stay in Hamilton for a few days or weeks extra.

The entire purpose of residence is to make university life, both academic and social, accessible and convenient for students; a goal that the move-out policy directly opposes.

Students shouldn’t have to request an extension at all, but for the sake of staggering departure times, students should be able to request and receive an extension for a much broader list of reasons than that which currently exists.

In doing so, McMaster can make exam season a little less strenuous for the students who paid to live on-campus until the end of term.

 

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Photo by Kyle West

By: Natalie Clark

In 2017, McMaster partnered with the My Lil’ HealthBot startup to provide students on campus with all of their various drugstore needs.

Stocked with Advil, shampoo and various other drugstore essentials, McMaster’s own personal care product vending machine, My Lil’ HealthBot “Marie,” located in Mary Keyes Residence, achieves a solid seven to 10 sales a week.

Two years later, My Lil’ HealthBot has expanded their market, grown their e-commerce capability, streamlined their product mix and improved their brand positioning and message.

“We have provided relief to over 10,000 university students across Canada and soon we will be launching in the United States,” said My My Lil’ HealthBot co-founder Tim Decker.

Aside from the obvious improvements that the company has accomplished, they also hope to introduce a new program to their roster.

“The only other place to obtain items sold by the vending machine are in the drugstore in [McMaster University Student Centre], which is closed in the evenings and on weekends, and the closest Shoppers for McMaster students is in Westdale or on Main Street West,” said Raj Vansia, a McMaster student who represents the company on campus.

“We hope to increase the availability of necessary products for McMaster students while still being able to provide great service,” said Vansia. “This is the main reason for us to try out the dorm room delivery pilot at McMaster, which would allow for delivery anywhere on campus within 20 minutes of any products in our HealthBots bought online.”

The My Lil’ HealthBot dorm room delivery program will be test launching on March 16 and will last 24 hours. The program is slated to gauge the demand from students to have products delivered to them for an extra fee.

“One of the benefits of our HealthBots being on campus is we provide a 24/7 solution to life’s headaches. However, what if you could have our products delivered to you in 20 mins or less for only an extra $3.99 on your order,” said Decker.

The company will be experimenting with this idea to see if there is demand to provide extra convenience to students.

“To use dorm room delivery, a student simply visits our website and ‘checks out’ normally, and for a delivery option they choose ‘Dorm Room Delivery,” explained Decker.

Due to dorm room security restrictions, products will be delivered to the lobby of McMaster residences.

The program’s trial test will allow the company to grasp how many students are interested in this new service.

“We have heard lots of great feedback from students. We are passionate about the way we have provided an option for easier access to very important products,” said Decker, who is confident about the positive impact that My Lil’ Heathbots have had on campus.

According to Decker and Vansia, My Lil’ HealthBot makes it easier for students on campus to access their drugstore needs.

“We strive to ensure that students should only have to focus on school while they are at school, rather than on how they will go about buying the necessities they need,” said Vansia.

With the vending machines already making their mark on the McMaster campus, Decker and Vansia are hopeful that the dorm room delivery program will be successful.

 

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