On Jan. 12, 2020, McMaster University’s Student Representative Assembly met for the first time in the new year to ratify 15 new clubs and to complete their initial review of non-MSU groups on campus.
Incite Magazine was the final non-MSU group to present their organization’s activities and budget to the SRA. According to Associate Vice-President (Finance) Jess Anderson’s report on Jan. 8, the McMaster Student Union’s Finance Committee has completed their review of all non-MSU groups on campus. These non-MSU groups receive funding from McMaster students but do not fall under the purview of the MSU Club Department.
According to the report, there are currently five non-MSU groups on campus: McMaster Marching Band, Engineering without Borders, McMaster Solar Car, Incite Magazine and the Ontario Public Interest Research Group McMaster.
“While there were a few hiccups regarding communication throughout the reviewing processes, the committee was very pleased with McMaster Marching Band, [and] have provided recommendations to Engineers without Borders, McMaster Solar Car, and Incite Magazine,” states Anderson in the report.
The Finance Committee has yet to come to a decision or provide recommendations for OPIRG McMaster. While a delegation from OPIRG attended the Dec. 8 SRA meeting, the group is still currently discussing salary and administration logistics with their union, Canadian Union of Public Employees 1281.
During the meeting, 15 new clubs were ratified by the SRA after recommendation from Clubs Administrator Aditi Sharma. A list of newly ratified clubs and their mission statements was also provided on Jan. 7. These include cultural clubs such as the Indonesian McMaster Student Association and McMaster Bengali Student Union; social issues clubs such as Blackspace and Glamour Girls; and recreational clubs such as the McMaster Real Estate Society and McMaster Filmmaking Club.
Each semester, potential clubs submit their applications to the Clubs Administrator and Clubs Executive Council. Successful applicants are then interviewed by the Clubs Administrator. Potential clubs are evaluated for their uniqueness, ability to maintain significant student interest and ability to positively impact the McMaster community. Finally, recognition as an official MSU club requires ratification by the SRA.
Last semester, there were two instances that raised concerns about the process of vetting proposed clubs. On Jul. 21, SRA ratified the Dominion Society, triggering an intervention three days later by MSU President Josh Marando due to the club’s alleged connections to people and organizations with white supremacist ties. Similarly, the SRA passed a motion on Sept. 22 to de-ratify The McMaster Chinese Students and Scholars Association for violating section 5.1.3 of the Clubs Operating Policy by endangering student safety.
Discussion regarding club ratification lasted under four minutes. The question of the club recognition appeal process for unsuccessful applicants was also brought up at the meeting.
“One of my constituents wanted to start a club with the purpose of, if I’m remembering correctly, creating a space where the ideas of various faculties (science, humanities, etc.) could be discussed and shared openly together […] The clubs department did not approve the club for reasons the constituent did not agree with and the constituent claims not [to] have been informed of a formal appeals process in their rejection,” wrote one SRA member wishing to remain anonymous.
According to the SRA member, the applicant was told that the proposed club fit a niche already occupied by the Controversial Texts Discussion Club, which aims to encourage discussion of academic texts and potentially controversial topics in Science, Philosophy and Religion. However, after reaching out to CON-TEXT several times and receiving no response, the applicant told the SRA member that they believe the club to no longer be active.
Section 4.13 of the MSU Clubs Operating Policy states that club applicants can first appeal to the Clubs Administrator. If still unsuccessful, applicants can make a second and final appeal to the CEC.
“In the email that [an unsuccessful club] got, they have an appeal period. They can send their appeal to the clubs administrator and CEC to be reviewed,” added MSU President Josh Marando at the meeting.
Lasting just over 42 minutes, this was the shortest SRA meeting so far in the 2019-2020 school year.