In the “Revamping Your Campus” pillar of her platform, Ikram Farah highlights her interest in increasing lighting in low-traffic locations on campus and in student-populated locations off-campus.
Farah argues that poor lighting conditions have decreased students’ sense of safety, noting the municipal government’s effort to upgrade street lighting on residential streets in Hamilton. This pillar of Farah’s platform is aimed at pushing the city of Hamilton to include more LED lighting on and off campus in the next year.
It should be noted that Farah’s promise to improve lighting on streets off-campus is not new, with former McMaster Students Union presidential candidate Aquino Inigo and 2014-2015 MSU president Teddy Saull inquiring about lighting in the past.
Last year, Ward 1 councillor Aidan Johnson stated in an email to the Silhouette that former councillor Brian McHattie encountered feasibility problems when residents pushed back against increased light pollution.
Although the replacement of all residential street and LED lights in Hamilton is currently being undertaken by the Hamilton municipal government, LED replacement for the off-campus McMaster area will not necessarily be prioritized.
According to Joey Coleman, a local journalist, the implementation of Farah’s off-campus objective is only feasible should the MSU have sway in City Hall. As such, the extent to which the McMaster area will be prioritized will depend on whether McMaster students vote en masse in the upcoming municipal election.
It should be noted that the MSU has struggled to incentivize students to vote in municipal elections in the past. During the 2014 Ward 1 election, for instance, only 40.7 per cent of all voters in the area cast a ballot for a total of 8,870 votes. McMaster’s population of 26,780 undergraduates means if just half that number voted in the election, it would have equated to 151.0 per cent of the previous Ward 1 turnout.
Coleman states that the MSU president needs a plan to mobilize the student vote, particularly one that starts on May 1, in order to be effective. Nevertheless, a plan to increase civic engagement amongst McMaster students is not outlined in Farah’s platform.
In light of these facts, Farah’s promise seems elusive.
Moreover, in the “Revamping Your Campus” pillar of her platform, Farah also promises to make the campus more accessible to students who experience physical barriers.
Farah notes that areas on campus continue to be inaccessible, citing the need for more accessible pathways, roads, stairways and parking lots.
In her platform, Farah does not specify what her plan to improve physical campus accessibility will entail. Although she mentions that she has been communicating with McMaster’s director of maintenance about this platform point, Farah does not highlight specific policies or initiatives that she seeks to implement should she be elected.
While Farah does mention her interest in investing money into making university infrastructure more accessible, she does not highlight precisely how much money she aims to invest, where the funding will come from or whether the initiative will require a multi-year effort.
Overall, certain aspects of Farah’s platform do not seem feasible without better planning.