Get to know the newly acclaimed MSU president-elect Denver Della-Vedova
The nomination period for the 2021 McMaster Students Union presidential election ended on Jan. 21. As the only nominee received by the elections department, Denver Della-Vedova has officially been acclaimed as MSU president-elect. Della-Vedova’s presidential term will begin on May 1, 2021.
Della-Vedova is currently in his fourth-year of honours life sciences with a minor in environmental sciences. In addition to his passion for guitar, gaming and seeing trails and waterfalls around McMaster University, he has been involved with student government for several years — including throughout his high school years and his past three years at McMaster.
In his first year of university, he was a member of First Year Council and has been part of the Student Representative Assembly for the past two years. His passion for student government finds its roots in his drive to empower others around him and to help his fellow students get the most out of their learning institution.
“I really like helping people,” explained Della-Vedova. “I like making sure people get what they want out of their learning institution. And I really wanted to be able to focus on bringing folks together, especially this year.”
Della-Vedova was the only nominee for the MSU presidency this year, which has been the cause of discussion and debate on social media, but is focused on looking to the future. Some students have expressed frustration over there being no student input during the process of Della-Vedova being acclaimed as MSU president-elect.
To this, Della-Vedova expressed understanding — an understanding of the frustration, gave a promise to show the student body who he really is and that he is ready to serve the Mac community to the best of his abilities.
“I’m really excited to move forward. As for you know, obviously, it’s an issue among students with the acclamation process in policy issue. So I’m sure that the SRA is gonna work on that and debate about that. But as it stands, I’m trying to focus on the future,” ” said Della-Vedova. “
Part of Della-Vedova’s focus on the future is ensuring the student body is made aware of his campaign and plans as MSU president, something that would typically happen during the campaign period. Della-Vedova’s campaign is centered on three pillars: accessibility; bettering advocacy; and community, togetherness and support. The three come together to form his slogan, “Denver’s ABCs”.
Accessibility within the university is an important issue to Della-Vedova. His passion for ensuring accessibility is grounded in his work over the past six summers at Stripe Learning Centre for Children, a physiotherapy camp for youth with cerebral palsy. He is very interested in overcoming issues negatively impacting accessibility at Mac. He is especially interested in making the reintegration of in-person learning accessible for all students.
One of the main ways in which Della-Vedova hopes to improve accessibility is to try to centralize the avenues and channels students use to communicate within courses, such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Avenue to Learn.
Although Della-Vedova’s hope to reduce channels of communication within courses is a campaign point that will surely resonate with many students, it is currently unclear how he will accomplish this.
Della-Vedova also seeks to improve and expand upon the ways in which the MSU currently advocates for students. He seeks to build upon what is already in place with regards to student advocacy and implement improvements where possible.
“As for bettering advocacy, I’ve said bettering too, because . . . I love what the MSU does for advocacy,” explained Della-Vedova. “But I want to improve it where I can . . . so tuition advocacy, financial aid, international student representation and campus safety, these are all things that I think we need to advocate [more] on.”
Della-Vedova believes his background in student advocacy and government will help him achieve these goals. For example, he hopes to be able to use his position to implement ways for students to learn more about their tuition, OSAP and provincial government. He also wishes to help students have greater access to resources and events surrounding student housing and tenant rights.
Della-Vedova also wants to better utilize student advocacy organizations such as Undergraduates of Canadian Research Universities and Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance. The MSU is a member of both of these organizations, which advocate to the federal and provincial governments, respectively. Although he has not dealt with UCRU directly, Della-Vedova looks forward to discussing McMaster student issues with them.
“I’ve looked into what we’ve done in the past, I know there’s been advocacy that was done through UCRU and through OUSA,” explained Della-Vedova. “But I just want to lean into them a little more this year and really push.”
Racial profiling by security on campus has been a concern for McMaster students this past year, ultimately leading to SRA passing a motion calling for the removal of the head of security services and an end to the special constable program on campus. When asked about this issue, Della-Vedova explained he plans to consult the Equity and Inclusion Office and research other Canadian campus safety models to understand how to better address this situation.
Although he did not directly discuss racial profiling and racism at Mac in his campaign, he did acknowledge that the fight against racial profiling has been a student-led effort and the importance of students in this conversation.
“Students have been at the front of this advocacy and I think they’re a huge part of this conversation, too,” said Della-Vedova.
The final aspect of Della-Vedova’s campaign is his community, togetherness and supports pillar. Through this pillar and his associated endeavours, he hopes to bring the McMaster community together for the 2021/2022 school year. Among his ideas, he plans to focus on improving mental health services, restructuring Welcome Week and addressing issues affecting MSU clubs.
MSU clubs provide a sense of community for many McMaster students. This year, there was a lot of concern with the MSU requiring clubs to have 25 members. Della-Vedova hopes to consult with the clubs advisory council and the MSU to address these issues.
In order to strengthen the McMaster community, Della-Vedova also hopes to improve the delivery of student mental health services. The president-elect believes the key to this is the implementation of an online booking system for the Student Wellness Centre, which would allow for empty appointment slots to be filled. Although he has not consulted with the Student Wellness Centre directly or made concrete plans for this idea, he is hoping to do so soon.
Della-Vedova has many plans for his MSU presidency, although some of them may lack clarity. He has been interested in taking on the role of MSU president since his first year. He said that the Mac community has given him a lot over the past several years and he is looking forward to giving back through this role, regardless of the circumstances of his victory.
“The biggest thing I’d like to say about Mac itself is the community has always kept me in a good mood,” explained Della-Vedova. “That was actually why I picked McMaster to go to.”
Students will surely learn more about Della-Vedova in the coming months as he transitions into the role. To learn more about his campaign and plans as president, students can also visit the following social media accounts:
Facebook: MSU President-Elect Denver Della-Vedova