The McMaster People Project is a new student-led initiative aimed at improving representation of students in governing bodies at McMaster and in Hamilton.
The initiative was spearheaded by Chukky Ibe, McMaster Students Union president, and Sabrin Salim, a representative from the Student Representative Assembly, in collaboration with Makenzy Walcott, Sebat Bekri, Gabriella Roberts, Kamini Persaud and Ibe’s campaign team.
The McMaster People Project consists of a group of student leaders who are committed to cultivating diversity and supporting marginalized groups on campus.
As part of its main objectives, the group seeks to arm students with information about campaign opportunities on campus, work with student groups to increase candidate diversity and provide students with training and resources to improve education about critical issues in the community.
“We will also provide continuous training and learning opportunities for elected student leaders. Our objective is to go to places where we haven’t traditionally looked for talent on our campus,” said Ibe.
Salim’s role entails exploring directions for the McMaster People Project and exploring new ways to outreach to marginalized groups at the university.
“Stepping on campus in my first year was the largest cultural shift I’ve experienced. When the time came for elections, I was afraid because I had never seen anyone who looked like me get elected, and so I subconsciously believed it was impossible,” said Salim. “I understood that that experience is not unique to myself and that a large number of individuals from marginalized communities are not being represented in governing bodies.”
“Our objective is to go to places where we haven’t traditionally looked for talent on our campus.”
McMaster Students Union
After being elected to the SRA, Salim decided that she would work to tackle this problem, sharing ideas with Ibe and recruiting passionate individuals to the McMaster People Project.
The group’s first event, called “The Price of Entry: Open Conversations with Change Seekers,” was held at Bridges Cafe on Feb. 27.
At the event, participants engaged in meaningful dialogue about the compromises and sacrifices candidates have to make to get elected and the how diverse governance can transform spaces in the university.
“The Price of Entry” also included networking and skill-building exercises to spearhead an effective campaign.
“We were fortunate to have Ehima Osazuwa and Siobhan Stewart who were MSU presidents from before come out and speak,” said Salim. “For me, it was exciting to see that between generations of MSU presidents, more of the conversation on minority in governance was coming about.”
Stewart referred to the event as a healing experience.
Although the McMaster People Project’s role in the university has not been solidified, plans for the future are already being made.
“We have several positions opening up, and we will be launching applications after the event,” said Ibe. “We have a conference on the horizon. We are working with the team to find out where the project is best housed, whether we apply to be an MSU service, or we apply to be a club.”
Applications for the group’s executive team are expected to be released in the next month. When they open, students will be able to find them on the McMaster People Project Facebook page.