Sarah Jama

Social Psychology Level IV

Sarah Jama considers her presidential campaign a “people’s platform” and her effort to put forward a diverse platform have not gone unnoticed. Her platform breakdown makes it clear that Jama did careful research into the needs of multiple groups on campus, and has set out goals to properly represent them.

One of Jama’s focuses is on interfaith equity. Jama hopes to collaborate with Hospitality Services to encourage a wider variety of food for religious restrictions by making kosher food available beyond the Student Center.

Space on campus is a big point in this year’s presidential election. Jama wants to advocate for prayer space around campus.

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In comparison to the platforms of other candidates, Jama strayed away from adding a new building to our campus. “Rather than creating an entirely new space, I think we should use what we have now,” Jama said. As an alternative, she referenced the opportunity for a prayer space out of Bridges Café as well as the ongoing construction of the LR Wilson Building.

In our discussion, Jama put the greatest emphasis on her point to advocate for the reversal of MSAF changes. In May of 2015, the MSAF was changed to allow students to only use it during a three-day span of time instead of five days, and only for assignments less than 25 percent instead of 30 percent.

“Students are intelligent. If we ask them, they will give us better solutions.”

“The MSAF helps people with disabilities as well. People who can’t access accommodations from Student Accessibility Services because they’re newly diagnosed with disabilities,” she explained.

The reversal of the MSAF is only the first step. Jama is also pushing for students to be involved in further dialogues about MSAF changes. “As MSU president, I want to hold working groups to make sure that student voices are being brought to the table,” as they have been scarce in the past. “At the committee discussion MSAF changes, it was students who were lacking. Students are intelligent. If we ask them, they will give us better solutions.”

As for her most ambitious platform point, Jama wants to work with every Student Union across Ontario to lobby the government for lower tuition. Knowing that tackling tuition is no small beast, Jama met with McMaster University President Patrick Deane twice to discuss ideas and was met with approval. “[Deane] actually sits on a similar province-wide board at an administrative level. I want to mirror that at the province level for student unions.” The student unions at Brock University and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology have joined the MSU in expressing support for the idea.

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If elected, Jama would be continuing the efforts to lower tuition that current President Ehima Osazuwa began this year. The MSU is currently campaigning for a tuition freeze, but Jama is skeptical of how much a tuition freeze can do given that Ontario has the highest provincial tuition rates in the entire country and that it will only continue to rise due to inflation.

Jama also plans to instill an Emergency Meal Plan that will function similarly to the MSU Emergency Bursary. Students demonstrating financial need receive a meal card to use for the month. However, the project will likely face many of the same issues as the Emergency Bursary, which has struggled with exhausted budget in the face of high demand.

While her campaign might not have the most illustrious or attention-grabbing platforms in this year’s election, Jama’s quieter approach shows that she is listening.

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#StudentsUnited

In her words...

Most ambitious platform point

“Lowering tuition”

Candidate platform you are critical of

Justin’s courseware price reduction

I’m unsure of how the current space will accommodate for long lines.”

For or against VP Referendum

For

Opponent you would vote for

“Jonathon Tonietto”

Website

jama2016.com

Photo Credits: Jon White/Photo Editor, Michael Gallagher/Production Editor

Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, Reza Moridi, came to McMaster this afternoon to announce an additional $6-million investment in accessibility programs at Ontario Universities.

“McMaster University is a fitting place for today’s announcement. This is an institution committed to creating and supporting a learning environment, and has put a lot of thought and planning into ensuring that students with disabilities have access to the services and support they need to thrive and prosper,” said Moridi.

The province will be investing $4.5 million to help students with disabilities through an Accessibility Fund for Students with Disabilities, and a Summer Transitions Program. Similar to McMaster’s Shifting Gears program, the Transitions Program will offer workshops and courses for high school students with disabilities coming into postsecondary education.

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Jama addresses the crowd on the importance of increased accessibility

“It’s very hard for students sometimes to transfer from high school to university without this kind of support, because often, students with disabilities are not taught to self-advocate and speak up for themselves.

“Programs like this, and funding like this, will teach students that they matter, that they belong here, and that there is a space for them and a voice for them at McMaster,” said Sarah Jama, McMaster student and Ontario Director of the National Educational Association of Disabled Students.

This announcement comes on the heel of Jama’s recent presentation to the Student Representative Assembly’s June 21 meeting, on a proposed increase to the services provided for students with both visible and invisible disabilities. Jama, also a member of the SRA’s Social Sciences Caucus and Abilities Ad Hoc Committee, addressed the need for a peer-based program that will allow students with disabilities to help one another, at this past Sunday’s meeting. Today’s announcement will hopefully lead to meeting the clear need and demand for increased accessibility services on campus.

The remaining $1.5 million of the investment will be going towards a variety of programs including: note-taking services for students with visual impairments; interpreter services for deaf, deafened and hard of hearing students; learning assessment services; and computer and tablet applications that change text-to-speech and vice versa.

Previous investments in accessibility on campus have lead to the creation of the Accessible Campus website, the Innovative Design for Accessibility, or IDeA, competition for students, among other campus-based initiatives across the province.

Moridi explained that Ontario universities and colleges have seen close to a doubling of students with disabilities since the first implementations of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act in 2003, thus making accessibility on campus an even more pressing issue.

“Your success matters to all of us. Together we can build a more accessible, more enlightened, more inclusive, and more economically prosperous Ontario.”

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