As is tradition at this time of year, the McMaster Board of Governors and Senate are accepting nominations for a number of open positions. The Board is looking for graduate students, while the Senate has openings for both undergraduate and graduate students alike.
The two bodies are considered exceptional options for students to get involved with the university at a greater capacity, but there are numerous barriers that have prevented both the Board and the Senate from reaching their full potentials.
In recent years, the University Secretariat has been consistently challenged with enticing students to submit their names for nominations. “In a given year, we might have several candidates for one position and only one for another. Then another year, we might see the opposite for those same two seats,” said Tamara Bates, one of the two Assistant University Secretaries.
A low number of student applications have led to the consistent acclamation of a few positions each year, and thus lower levels of promotions related to voting, and further consequently, a low voter turnout.
While it may seem that this issue stems from a sense of apathy across a student body that doesn’t seem invested in its university’s governing boards, the BoG and Senate both have barriers of their own that may deter students from submitting their names. As of right now, all applicants for the BoG must hold a Canadian citizenship, making it impossible for international students, permanent residents and recent immigrants to even consider applying for a position.
As a university that celebrates its diverse student body and even has an international student at the head of its student’s union, this bylaw is both backward and prevents the BoG and Senate from reaching out to the full student body.
The “Act Respecting McMaster University,” the document containing the early BoG and Senate framework, was ratified in 1976 and has not received notable moderation since. McMaster’s student body has changed a considerable amount over the last 39 years, and if the university is hoping to engage more students in its practices, an effort needs to be made to accommodate them.
It is the responsibility of students to stay up to date with the processions of their university’s governing bodies, but the university also holds a certain responsibility to ensure that all students have fair access to these opportunities.