Click on a candidate's name to jump to their submissions to the Sil. Each candidate was given a 600-word limit to express why McMaster students should vote for them.

Israa Ali
Jacob Brodka
Jyssika Russell
Teddy Saull
Jason Wolwowicz

Israa Ali

Creating spaces for equity, enhancement, engagement and in essence everyone to not only be heard but recognized, is truly what I stand for.
Passion and embracing challenges are two fundamental aspects of who I am as an individual. The vision I carry forward encapsulates a variety of student voices that if brought forward, will doubtlessly enhance student life on campus.

My platform points outline different issues with the primary focus going back to addressing this concern: creating spaces for you.

The “Everyone” pillar touches on the need to revisit ancillary fees and assess their value to students. For instance, when an average full-time student, out of 20,000 others, pays about $250 to the Athletics and Recreation centre, equating to about $4 million dollars collectively every year, we need to question whether each student is truly receiving value for their money and act accordingly. The pillar further elaborates on ensuring the availability of food ingredient labelling across the different eateries on campus. Surprising we don’t already have this despite the many dietary/religious/cultural restrictions students have. Exam Welcome Day as a de-stressor in March and subsidized costs of graduation photos are also other things I am sincerely passionate for.

The “Enhancement” pillar revolves around modifying the catering rules for student groups at Bridges Café, which was originally built with the intent of bridging the gap between the different diverse backgrounds and food happens to be an essential component. This is a strategic approach to decrease the monopoly of Paradise Catering on campus. Another enhancing aspect is to establish a base for a spirituality centre on campus. I have critically analyzed different ideas of where this space can exist. It’s definitely feasible if enough pressure and commitment are in place. After all, nine years ago, an entire vegetarian restaurant came to life on campus, all because of students’ voices coming together and enough work from the MSU. The potential is there. Within this platform as well, there needed to be space to enhance the learning and academic experience of students, more so from the research aspect. The idea behind the MSU Research Awards is to work collaboratively with the different faculties and hold a campus-wide research symposium, however logistically feasible the supervisors think it would be.

The “Equity” and “Engagement” pillars further revolve around issues we as students can relate to. I invite you to visit me at the table behind Timmies to ask me for more details on them or have a chat over anything you like. I would absolutely love the opportunity to share with you my thoughts.

And beyond any other label, I am a student just like you. What makes me different is that I care, a lot.

 

Jacob Brodka

My decision to come to McMaster was an easy one. As soon as I had an opportunity to experience the incredible sense of community on campus, I was sold. The amount of energy and passion I continue to see from students each and every day motivates me to want to make a difference.

From buying a cup of coffee at Union Market to printing off our assignments at Underground - whether we realize it or not, the majority of us interact with the MSU through its services each and every day. Aside from this interaction - the MSU gives us as students a direct role in improving student experience and driving change. In putting together my platform I wanted to make sure that I built something that students could not only connect to, but is also feasible and practical within the term of the MSU President.

I decided to focus on three main areas: Student Life, Academics, and Communication.

For student life I wanted to focus on celebrating and expanding school pride and community relations. I am also interested in taking steps towards improving term two programming - specifically Frost Week.

Academics is the reason why we are all here to begin with, yet it is often something overlooked in a Presidential campaign - especially from a service perspective. With my platform I wanted to encourage students to explore new academic interests by implementing “Freedom Credit” pass/fail course options. I want to create a service for affordable peer-to-peer academic support and at the same time bridge the gap between the MSU and faculty societies.

Communication is key. I truly believe that student ideas are the fuel that helps ensure the MSU continues to provide amazing opportunities and experiences for all those it represents. I want to take the power of student ideas even further by giving you the ability to be part of the decision making process through participatory project budgeting.

In making my platform I aimed to create something that was feasible within a one-year term. A lack of information about research or consultation in regards to platform implementation is a major oversight. I want students to know that what I am proposing was the result of hours of research and conversation with the people who have the power to turn talk into action.

Students need a president who not only has good ideas, but also has a strong knowledge of the organization in which they want to lead. The majority of the MSU President’s job is not implementing their platform but filled with meetings, conversations, and events that require a holistic view of the MSU and its services and governance.

Through my involvement with the MSU and other university departments, I am confident I have the experience and understanding to ensure continuity and introduce positive change.

To learn more, I encourage you to check out my website: www.brodka14.com

 

Jyssika Russell

I envision a campus that’s equitable, inclusive, and accessible.

It’s time for the MSU to focus on the needs of those belonging to marginalized communities, or not otherwise represented by the Student Representative Assembly. The MSU should strive to get a better understanding of student issues on campus beyond academics.

As it stands, representation within the MSU is limited to just our faculties. But we all know that we’re more than that. Students have individual needs, concerns and issues on campus that need to be addressed in different manners.

While faculty division might be an easy and effective way to vote on organizational policies, we also need other venues for students to speak up about issues of equity on campus.
I’m advocating for the creation of an Inclusion Council, which will meet with the MSU President to discuss matters of equity, inclusivity and accessibility. This Council will serve as a window into the myriad of individual student needs and bringing these matters to the attention of the MSU.

Over the last two years, with the help of last year’s VP Education, Huzaifa Saeed, the MSU has been talking about mental health issues on campus, and attempting to “stomp out the stigma.” For far too long we’ve been raising awareness about these issues and failing to implement tangible solutions.

We need to address some of the roots of mental health concerns, and find avenues to improve support for students.

The primary source of support for students with mental health issues on campus is the Student Wellness Centre. However, some students have to face month-long waiting periods between appointments. Additionally, same-day mental health appointments are only offered for first time use. We need to have more counsellors at the SWC to reflect this growing student need.

The Peer Support Line is doing a wonderful job at reaching out to students and providing support. However, we need to be cognizant of the fact that not everyone feels comfortable calling in. In collaboration with other services which provide peer support, like the Student Health Education Centre and the Queer Students Community Centre, a text-based peer support system should be put in place to provide more accessible support options.

There are also ways for the MSU to be proactive in helping students overcome barriers that can lead to mental health crises. For example, a low income student whose OSAP is late will have a hard time collecting funds to pay for tuition, courseware, food and rent. The implementation and advertisement of an accessible emergency loan with students in mind would lessen the burden of a financial crisis. In turn, removing this major source of stress would have a positive impact on a student’s mental health.

Another stressful time for students is tax season. In the past, the MSU had a tax consultant on campus to help students with the completion and filing of their taxes. It saw strong usage during its original implementation, however, the program was poorly advertised later, and the service was discontinued. Tax season is stressful for many students, and can be a complicated process. Re-implementing this program with proper advertisement would lessen the stress associated with this period of time.

As a part-time manager of the MSU, implementing solutions, building community, and providing students with the support they need has been my job. Over the last two years in this position, I’ve interacted one-on-one with hundreds of students.

My platform isn’t only a list of things that could make our experience at McMaster better. These are things we need.

 

Teddy Saull

“The end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”  - T.S. Eliot

Amidst the exciting chaos of this campaign, I find myself reflecting on how things have changed so dramatically since I arrived at McMaster almost four years ago.

In a word, my first year was confusing. I couldn’t see where I fit in to the puzzle that was “the McMaster community”—just a small fish in a big pond. I believe this is true for many, and that it isn’t just a first year thing.

Today, I walk the same paths and sit in the same buildings. I eat the same food and I hear the same bells ringing from Divinity College. The McMaster experience hasn’t changed much, but the feeling has.

Now I’m connected, involved and excited. I’m grateful for the friendships I’ve formed and experiences I’ve had. As an MSU Presidential candidate, I’m relentlessly dedicated to bringing this feeling of connectivity to our entire student body.

My platform is powerful in its simplicity. It’s tangible and well informed. But it’s not everything. It’s not just promises of a bigger frost week, a new website or an opportunity to have your say in MSU spending. It’s an opportunity to prioritize community and to make it matter.

As voters consider the different candidates, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, I’d like to advise a note of caution. Challenge the depth of experience and the meaning of consultation that seem to promise a safe vote in other candidates. Differentiate between talking about student issues and dealing with them, and ask yourself where each candidate falls on that spectrum.

The bottom line is that this campaign is a job application and the 20,000+ students at McMaster are the hiring managers. While I see value in the ideas brought forth by the other candidates, I wouldn’t have run for this position if I didn’t believe I was, without a shred of doubt, the most qualified applicant. Read my story, review my CV and reflect on my philosophy (available at www.teddysaull.com). It’s all there. It’s experience where it matters: with students, for students and about students.

All that said, thank you for making it this far in an article about student politics. I appreciate the past 3-minutes of your time (reading speed may vary, but thanks either way).

 

Jason Wolwowicz

Hi there McMaster, thank you for taking the time to read this article. Hopefully it will give you more insight about myself and shed some light as to why I am a relevant candidate for the position of MSU President.

I am pleased to see the diverse selection of candidates running for President of the McMaster Student Union. In fact, I have had the pleasure of working with all of them in some way, shape or form within the last year and I admire their drive and determination.

With that said, I strongly believe that my wide variety of experience at McMaster is what sets me apart from my fellow candidates. My time as an active member of the Student Representative Assembly, MSU Executive Board, Finance Committee and Sponsorship and Donations Committee has helped me develop valuable knowledge of the day-to-day operations of the services we provide to students. It has also allowed me to recognize the areas in which improvements need to be made.

However, it is not only my time with the MSU that has been valuable. I have assisted with Welcome Week as a Residence Orientation Rep for the last three years. Since this past summer, I have also had the opportunity to work with students and staff through dedicated working groups, in an effort to increase the experiential and interdisciplinary options for our students. For after all, a comprehensive education is the reason we are all here.

When deciding what points to include in my platform, I had to reflect on the diverse needs of our University. The result was a variety of realistic projects inspired by student feedback, and I invite you to read through it.

I have been asked by some students why I did not include a point regarding Equity in my platform. I would like to clarify that by no means is this ignorance towards the issue. My reasoning is as follows: There is simply no one solution. Instead, I firmly believe that every presidential candidate should attempt to foster an equitable learning environment in all the initiatives that they undertake with the assistance of our resources such as the MSU’s Diversity Services, the QSCC, the up-and-coming Women & Gender Equity Center and the many important clubs on campus.

It has been an absolute pleasure having the opportunity to meet so many of you and I am hopeful that we will see a record number of students voting this year. So please check all the candidates platforms and come meet us all as well, for we should be voting not only for the platform, but for the individual who best represents our community.

This is a call to all undergraduate students at Mac. Remember that you are not just a number, but a student with dreams, goals, ambitions and the power to make this important decision for the future of our University.

The choice is yours McMaster.

Teddy Saull longs for the day that all McMaster students participate in the community that he has come to know and love.

“I’m running for MSU President because community matters to me” he said. “The MSU is a thing we’re aware of, but not necessarily engaged in… it’s a challenge I think we can overcome.”

Coming into the race with little MSU experience but a passionate idealism, Saull says that his experience living in residence for three years and working for Residence Life has taught him about the importance of community his platform looks to create.

“I wanted to build a platform that was very tangible” he said.

Saull has some big ideas but hasn’t constructed exact roadmaps about how to reach all of them.

Saull hopes to lobby with local politicians and the municipal police force to work toward better lighting in student neighborhoods and red security poles like those found on campus.

Another big idea is to freeze the MSU fee where it currently is. Full-time undergraduates pay $122.61 to the MSU each year. Saull wants to ensure that the fee doesn’t rise.

“We’re good where we’re at,” he said, “We can start to give back a little bit.”

Questions have been raised as to how a candidate with such little background in the MSU could lead the operation of the organization. Saull’s campaign attempts to respond to these questions by focusing on the lessons he has learned through his work as a residence community advisor and IntroPsych TA.

Saull also acknowledges that several of his platform ideas are similar to those of Jacob Brodka. He believes that this fact shows that MSU experience does not always mean different ideas.

Both he and Brodka are looking to expand Frost Week and introduce a cost-friendly peer tutoring service, while three candidates (Brodka, Saull, Wolwowicz) are introducing a program that would allow students to decide on what projects to fund and develop.

Saull’s may be the most well-thought out variation of the idea. He plans to call for student submissions, with a $100,000 budget from the Student Life Enhancement Fund, which will then be reviewed by a selection committee and the student body.

“I’ve set it up in a sustainable way that could be repeated,” he said.

Though Saull’s ideas will likely connect with students, his similarities to Brodka and lack of MSU experience may be a turnoff to voters.

Campaign catchphrase: Make it matter
Year/Program: Fourth-year psychology, neuroscience and behaviour
Who he would vote for: Jacob Brodka
Most ambitious platform point: Off-campus security
Point he’s critical of: Brodka's freedom credit. He wouldn’t want to encourage the creation of a de facto “bird course.”

A member of Israa Ali's campaign team adds a poster to a wall in MUSC beside posters of Teddy Saull and Jacob Brokda.

Campaigning may have only been officially happening for a few hours, but it's been an eventful day for MSU presidential hopefuls.

Already, Thulashini Sooriyadas has dropped out of the race. The third-year geography student pulled out of the election for unknown reasons. She could not be reached for comment. Sooriyadas is an event coordinator for Free the Children at McMaster and an executive on the McMaster Creative Arts Dance Team.

For the five remaining candidates, it's been a day filled with putting posters up all around campus and launching websites and Facebook pages supporting their campaign.

Jacob Brodka and Teddy Saull both started the day strong. Websites for Brodka and Saull were the first to go live. Jyssika Russell has promised a forthcoming site, jyss.ca, on her facebook page.

So far, Israa Ali and Jason Wolwowicz have not launched websites or Facebook pages.

Update (Jan. 20): Jyssika Russell's website is now live and Israa Ali's website has been launched but is not yet filled with content.

Five students are in the running to become the next president and CEO of the McMaster Students Union. Initially, six candidates were announced at a meeting on Jan. 17 in Council Chambers. One candidate, Thualshini Sooriyadas, pulled out of the race on Sunday, Jan. 19, the first day of campaigning.

Israa Ali is a fourth-year life science student and the MSU Diversity Services director. She is a co-chair of the McMaster President's Advisory Committee on Building an Inclusive Community.

 

 

Jacob Brodka, a third-year life science student, is running for a second consecutive time. Brodka is a 2013-14 SRA science representative and services commissioner for the MSU. He is the transition program coordinator for the Student Success Centre.

 

 

 

Jyssika Russell is a fourth-year biology student and the director of the Queer Students Community Centre (QSCC) on campus.

 

 

 

Teddy Saull is a fourth-year psychology, neuroscience and behaviour student. He is an IntroPsych teaching assistant and an academic experience advisor.

 

 

 

Thulashini Sooriyadas, a third-year geography student, pulled out of the race on Jan. 19, the first day of campaigning. She is an event coordinator for Free the Children at McMaster and an executive on the McMaster Creative Arts Dance Team.

 

 

 

Jason Wolwowicz is a fourth-year French and political science student. He is a 2013-14 SRA humanities representative, sits on the MSU executive board, and is the vice-president of McMaster Musical Theatre.

 

 

Each candidate has a $600 budget for campaigning funded by the MSU. According to election rules, candidates are not allowed to campaign door-to-door or post campaign material on Avenue2Learn or LearnLink. Candidates who campaign on Facebook will be restricted to doing so on their own page dedicated to the election. Voting, to take place online, will begin on Jan. 28 at 12 p.m. and end Jan. 30 at 5 p.m.

Photos by Tyler Welch / Senior News Editor

TheSil.ca will be home to continuing coverage of the election leading up to the voting results on Jan. 30. Follow us @theSilhouette and use #MSUpres14 to join the discussion on Twitter.

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