Travis Nguyen/Photo Editor
As intramurals around campus kick off, the soccer intramurals in particular took off with immense interest.
As of Sept. 17, intramurals for some leagues have begun. The very first sport that started was competitive soccer, which consists of 16 teams of seven players who play every week that subsequently proceed to play-offs. Not only was competitive soccer the first sport to start off, it was also the most popular choice amongst student athletes on IMleagues.com registration. After the team sign-ups opened on Sept. 8., the league was full within two days.
Out of numerous teams that have attempted to apply for a spot within the competitive league, only 16 teams got the spot which was given on a first come, first served basis. However, there are currently over ten squads on the waitlist, which is used to replace any teams that drop out or get disqualified from the league.
Shortly after the league reached its 16-team capacity, McMaster Intramurals sent an email to all participants regarding safety protocols and the waitlists that have been racking up over the past couple of days. They stated that due to the lack of resources and the facilities that are currently operating, there won’t be any opportunity for the organization to accept more teams into the leagues, while also reiterating that it is necessary for all registered teams to confirm their participation or else they’ll get replaced.
There aren’t currently any plans to expand the league sizes, which is why confirmed participation is vital for those who remain interested in partaking. According to an email from the McMaster Intramurals organization, this participation confirmation will guarantee a spot in the league.
Speaking to one of the registered players for the upcoming intramurals season, Aidan Matthew, a second-year student studying computer engineering, spoke about the registration period as well as the excitement that he and his team poses just before the season premiere.
“I am surprised that the registrations filled up so fast, as there was no marketing/advertising for IM leagues at the time of registration. However, my friends told me about the website so I signed up as soon as I could and got in,” explained Matthew.
On the topic of the upcoming season and his thoughts, Matthew did not hide his exhilaration.
“I am very hyped to finally be on campus, I’ve been looking forward to this for a while. My first year was entirely virtual so I am happy to finally be around, and to play soccer while meeting new people,” said Matthew.
While there may not be any space left for any new teams in competitive leagues anymore, players can still choose to register as free agents here. As a free agent, they can get drafted by any of the participating teams if there’s a shortage in athletes at any time. The competitive soccer league is set to run until the middle of November, where it’ll end as the weather gets less suitable for outdoor sports.
For many students, living in residence is an important part of the first year experience. In recent years, universities across the country have had to act quickly to meet the increased demand for residence space on campus.
McMaster has 12 residence buildings that house approximately 3,700 students. The demand for student housing, however, is far higher. Currently, there is only enough residence space for about 40 per cent of incoming first year students.
McMaster is one of the only universities in Ontario that does not provide guaranteed campus housing for first year students. In order to be guaranteed admission to residence, students must meet a minimum grade average. All other students are placed on a waitlist.
In 2016, McMaster had to fit 200 additional students into residence due to higher than anticipated enrollment numbers. As an immediate solution, double rooms were converted into three person units.
The Living Learning Centre currently being built on the north end of campus will help to meet the need for residence space. In addition to classrooms and student services, it will also offer 500 suite and traditional-style residence rooms.
But there is only so much space on campus. In order to meet the rapidly increasing demand for residence space, universities across Canada are rushing to create new housing options.
One novel yet controversial approach to the problem of minimal housing space comes from the University of British Columbia’s “nano suites” pilot project.
Enrolment numbers at UBC have been steadily increasing and have led to space and resource shortages. The university is now considering scaling back admission of international students, according to UBC’s student-run newspaper The Ubyssey.
Nano suites are 140 square foot housing units containing a bed, desk, bathroom and kitchen. A desk sits under the bed, which can retract into the wall to save space.
The nano suites will account for 71 rooms in a new 362 unit student residence building on UBC’s campus.
One of the main draws of the nano suites is the cost. Each unit costs around $700 a month which, compared to Vancouver’s notoriously high rent costs, is a strong draw for students.
However, living in such a small space is not a feasible option for everybody. The Ubyssey notes that the units are less than double the size of a minimum-sized single occupancy Canadian prison cell.
While scaling down the size of residence rooms is one approach to the problem, the more common approach is to build residences off campus.
Private developers have noticed this trend. In some cities such as Waterloo and Toronto, the demand for student residences is so high that private companies have built student residences independently of the universities.
Since privately operated residences are not affiliated with universities, students do not get access to the same benefits and support systems that are typically available in traditional residences. Additionally, privately owned residences are often far more expensive than traditional options.
Due to a lack of government funding for residence construction, many universities are unable to build their own new residence buildings. In recent years Canadian universities have begun exploring public-private partnerships to fund university-affiliated student residences.
York University, U of T and McGill are among the growing cohort of Canadian universities who have partnered with private companies to fund student residence buildings.
In 2017, McMaster announced its plan to follow suit. The university bought a group of nine Westdale houses around campus for $9.5 million with the plan to develop a multi-storey residence building in partnership with Knightstone capital management, a Toronto-based company that specializes in student residences.
While the construction will be handled privately, McMaster will run the residence as part of the university-wide student housing system.
The proposed first phase of the residence will have 950 beds, and there will an additional 455 if there is sufficient demand.
In addition to the Westdale residence, McMaster is also partnering with Knightstone to build a residence in downtown Hamilton for graduate students and their families.
Knightstone aims to build residences that challenge the perception of unclean, unsafe student living. Their website claims that they cater to the new generation of students with higher expectations about their student living conditions.
“These expectations, taken together with security, cost and cleanliness as their parents’ hot buttons, have created consumers that seek a student residence experience at a level that corresponds to their home life,.” read a part of their site.
Some of the new privately developed student residences across Canada more closely resemble luxury condominiums than traditional student dormitories.
CampusOne is a student residence in downtown Toronto that houses students from the University of Toronto, Ryerson and Ontario College of Art and Design. The building houses movie theatres and a fitness studio, and the website advertises Feng Shui compliant rooms.
While privately and jointly funded residences offer luxury, they also tend to be more expensive than university owned buildings. A standard room at CampusOne, for example, costs about $1700 a month, not including the meal plan.
McMaster has yet to announce the costs of the new residence buildings in Westdale and downtown Hamilton.
By building student residences the surrounding city, universities are better able to meet the increasing demand for housing. However, building residences off campus means that universities must account for the needs of the surrounding community members.
The proposed Westdale residence concerned residents, who worried that the height and density of the proposed building would alter the community. A letter from Ainslie Wood/Westdale Community Association Of Resident Homeowners Inc. to the city of Hamilton expressed concern about foot and vehicle traffic and, as well as the plan for yearly move in and move out.
“We understand the need of the University, and we endorse a development on the proposed site; however, we feel that this development in its present form will have long-lasting negative effects on the immediate community,” states the letter.
Community resistance to off-campus student residences is not unique to Hamilton.
In 2013, a proposed private residence for U of T students faced similar backlash from members of the surrounding community. The Harbord village residents’ association found issues with the proposed building’s height and density, among other concerns.
A new proposal was announced this past summer that accounted for the concerns raised by the HVRA. However, it took five years of negotiation to come to the agreement.
While building residences off campus may be necessary to accommodate for increasing enrollment, it requires careful consultation with community members.
As university admissions continue to rise across the country, so too will the demand for student housing. While many incoming students want the first year residence experience, the future of campus living is anything but traditional.
January marks the beginning of a new semester filled with new classes. While course enrolment for both fall and winter terms occurred in the summer, students have until the end of the drop-and-add period on Jan. 15 to enrol in courses for the current term. Or, at least, they can attempt to.
McMaster University students enrol in courses through Mosaic, the university’s administrative information system. For fall and winter course enrolment, students may only enrol in courses after their enrolment appointment opens, which is dependent on their academic level. For example, during registration for the 2018-2019 academic term, students in level five had enrolment appointments beginning June 19 whereas students in level one had appointments beginning June 27.
Each student is randomly assigned an enrolment appointment within their academic level which allows the process of course enrolment to be fair while giving necessary priority to upper-year students who have limited time to fulfil their degree requirements.
While the current system provides students equal opportunity to enrol in courses, due to the nature of course enrolment, it is often the case that students wish to enrol in classes that have reached capacity. This could be to fulfil requirements for post-undergraduate programs, satisfy their minor requirements, allow for the option to take advanced classes in the future, or merely out of interest.
Just as there are many reasons why students wish to enrol in full classes, there are many reasons why classes have caps on enrolment — limitations in room sizes and the necessity of reserved space for certain program majors, for example — but what makes little sense is the university’s lack of offering a waitlist for full classes.
As it stands, any students wishing to enrol in full classes is recommended to “keep checking back on Mosaic to see if a seat has opened up”. This recommendation is frankly a waste of students’ time with little reward; students have no guarantee that consistently checking their enrolment cart will result in enrolment in their desired course, even if spaces became available.
The alternative is to contact the instructor of the course and ask for special permissions to join however this again cannot guarantee student enrolment and success varies dependent on the course and instructor. Instructors also cannot be expected to respond to all student requests and essentially manage the administrative details of their course. Instead, waitlists should be created and used to facilitate course enrolment.
Other universities such as Carleton University have clearly-defined policies surrounding course registration waitlists. While not all courses at Carleton have waitlists set-up, those that do operate in a consistent manner.
Once the course has reached capacity, students who have met the course prerequisites and are attempting to enrol are presented with the option to join a waitlist, with those who attempted to enrol in the full course the earliest placed at the top of the list. When space is available, the first student on the waitlist is notified via email and must register for the class within 24 hours. Otherwise, the next student on the waitlist is contacted and so forth.
Although a system like this does not guarantee enrolment, it removes the unnecessary time commitment created by constantly checking Mosaic for available spaces, and ensures the process is fair by not requiring instructor intervention.
Oddly enough, Mosaic appears to have the functionality to support waitlists, showing students on their term’s schedule that their status in a course can be “enrolled”, “dropped”, or “wait listed”. Given then that implementation of waitlists benefits students and does not seemingly require a major system restructure, the question becomes why hasn’t the university offered it?