MEET THE VEEPS The incoming Board of Directors plan to focus on accessibility, space and inclusion on campus

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On April 1 and 2, incoming Student Representative Assembly members voted in the new McMaster Students Union vice presidents. Preethi Anbalagan was elected for vice president (Administration), Daniel D’Souza for vice president (Finance) and Ryan Deshpande for vice president (Education). The newly elected vice presidents will be joining president Chukky Ibe on the 2017-2018 Board of Directors.

For the first time, the entire Board of Directors belong to a marginalized minority, something reflected in the focus on diversity and inclusion in all the vice president-elects’ platforms.

Preethi Anbalagan, vice president (Administration)

Anbalagan’s platform includes multiple points about how to support the SRA, part-time managers and associate vice presidents employed by the MSU. Among the points that stand out is the centralization and accessibility of resources.

She plans to increase accessibility to resources for the SRA and make herself more accessible by centralizing information pertinent to both groups. She hopes that the shared resources will foster collaboration between members with similar platforms and goals. She also plans to focus on helping SRA members stand up for their opinions, plans to run skill-building workshops for SRA members to work on strengthening their voice.

Anbalagan also plans to initiate a summer conference style orientation for part-time managers and the SRA. The orientation will replace the existing MSU Retreat.

Another major focus for Anbalagan is safety on campus. She wants to create a formalized online training module for how to contribute to a safer campus and to expand bystander intervention training to more reps and students on campus that will be running large Welcome Week events.

Off-campus students also have a place on Anbalagan’s platform, as she plans to pilot events and social gatherings in areas of high commuter population prior to welcome week and to increase visibility of campus services and the SRA during Welcome Week.

Daniel D’Souza, vice president (Finance)

D’Souza’s platform complements Anbalagan’s programming for off-campus students well, though this is more of a minor point for D’Souza. Instead, D’Souza plans to focus on affordable food and space, experiential work opportunities and diverse programming and outreach.

D’Souza plans to address two longstanding campus issues that students care about: space and affordable food. D’Souza hopes to convert the unused space at TwelvEighty to create a joint restaurant and lounge and coffee shop similar to the model other universities already use.

D’Souza also plans to cut some of the most non-profitable endeavours of TwelvEighty’s expenses, such as some Thursday club nights that have been poorly attended in the past. D’Souza hopes to use the free nights and decreased cost of renting TwelvEighty to encourage diversity programming. As for food, D’Souza wants to stock Union Market with fresh groceries through Farmstand during non-operating days in the summer and fall and an outside source in the winter.

D’Souza plans to foster a partnership with the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce to increase opportunities for students in chamber events and local business. He hopes to use the MSU job portal to advertise for these jobs. D’Souza also emphasizes bystander intervention training and stresses that his goals for diverse programming and the potential use of the John Hodgins Engineering building field for on-campus concerts will not come to fruition unless this training is in place.

Ryan Deshpande, vice president (Education)

Deshpande takes an evidence-based approach to his main platform points, which are education, safety, diversity and food security.

After seeing the data from the Academic Services Review survey, he plans to lobby for revised exam scheduling and to enforce the assessment ban through an anonymous appeals process.

Among his points are podcasted courses and extended library hours, although Deshpande was not specific in how he would approach these points. Additionally, Deshpande will tackle the syllabus repository that students passed in the January referendum.

Deshpande also plans to lobby for accessibility, focusing on advocating for the university to use deferred maintenance funds to increase physical accessibility on campus. He also plans to work with Ibe to improve bus shelters and Wi-Fi on campus and increase the number of gender-neutral washrooms. Deshpande plans to revisit the conversation about an Indigenous course requirement and to advocate for Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe flags on campus. Similar to his fellow vice presidents, Deshpande wants to push for all undergraduate students to be trained in sexual violence prevention during Welcome Week. He also plans to lobby for expanded OHIP and UHIP coverage to include healthcare costs associated with a response to sexual violence.

Deshpande’s food security platform point includes the implementation of a food security analyst, readily available allergy information, increased Kosher and Halal options and improved local food opportunities.

The incoming vice presidents all have platforms that complement each other and their president-elect, promising a cohesive board of directors set up well to succeed in their upcoming term.

This article has been updated to correct a platform point of Daniel D’Souza. Originally, we wrote that D’Souza’s potential partnership with the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce would provide opportunities for the SRA. In fact, the partnership could provide opportunities for all undergraduate students. 

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