As McMaster Students Union elections ramp up and candidates introduce their platforms, we can start to get an idea of how the candidates plan on dealing with issues of accessibility on campus. Mental and physical accessibility is an ongoing concern that McMaster students and that each candidate running for MSU president addresses differently.
This concern has been generally assessed in terms of infrastructural concerns and physical accessibility on campus as well as mental health and developing resources that will help students cope with their mental health concerns. However, most of the candidates do not give specific mention to show that how they improve the inclusion of students with disability and special needs on campus.
In terms of infrastructure and improving the campus itself for students, Kyle Pinheiro alerts to the issue of malfunctioning outlets on campus. These would then alleviate mental stress and anxiety for students, as well as ways we can maximize space on campus for studying such as tutorial rooms and hallway space in buildings like MDCL. In addition, Pinheiro plans to decrease traffic areas in MUSC by implementing more microwave stations. In terms of resources, Pinheiro has been consulting with the MacPherson Institute to develop an app for Avenue to Learn to supplement to the current web version.
Ikram Farah’s platform addresses accessibility for McMaster students with a focus on improving Student Accessibility Services, decreasing exam stress,and improving physical safety on campus. As an interim solution, Farah wants to “incentivize note-takers by giving them MSU Courtesy Cards which offer discounts at MSU businesses”, with an end goal to “fully incentivize note-taking through wages or honorariums similar to other institutions, this partnership with the MSU will begin to encourage more students to volunteer.” Farah also hopes to invest more money into pathways, roads, stairways, and parking lots that can increase physical accessibility and safety on campus. In terms of mental accessibility, Farah plans on advocating for a longer break before exams to allow students to better prepare for exams and hopes to revise the examination policy to allow students with two back to back exams as oppose to the current “three consecutive exams over two days” to reschedule.
Mental and physical accessibility is an ongoing concern that McMaster students and that each candidate running for MSU president addresses differently.
Kirstin Webb has a similar focus to Farah with the hope to incentivize notetaking by using participation marks as an incentive. Webb also hopes to adapt a way to provide access to notes through McMaster Student Absent Form submissions and plans claims says that she will “host and promote educational events about accessibility on campus, specifically in regards to the Equity and Inclusion Office’s FLEXforward program” and hopes “support and host accessibility campaigns that raise awareness around reporting dysfunctional accessibility measures on campus”.
In contrast, in Connor Wong’s platform he states that “If elected, I promise to block off all of the stairs on campus during the winter months to ensure that the currently unblocked stairs don’t feel left out”. In addition, Wong plans on “pruning” the present MSU event for de-stressing before exams “Light Up the Night” and using the funds for “more worthy purposes” such as the possibility of installing a commercial elevator instead.
Rabeena Obaidullah looks at accessibility from a more entrepreneurial platform by addressing issues of accessibility with technological solutions. With the resource, “The Pulse Capacity Counter”, a resource that will allow students to track Pulse traffic, students will be able to access gym equipment more conveniently by being able to track gym capacity. Obaidullah has a similar idea to address the issue of limited study space on campus with the “Library Live Capacity Counter” resource by installing 3D overhead traffic counters at primary entrances and exits, students will be able to find study spaces more easily. In addition, this development will allow the university to make monetary decisions about building expansions. Obaidullah assures that resources “such as online equipment tours and free introductory group workshops” will be offered to Pulse newcomers as well to ensure safety and accessibility.
Lindsay D’Souza focuses on improving the current Student Wellness Centre services by overlooking the Peter George building project and planning on making the building the centralized location for Student Wellness resources.
Muhammed Aydin’s platform assures that the infrastructural issue of building bigger bus shelters on campus and building two more bike repair stations on campus. He also hopes to create a campaign that would inform students about the resources available for students to request repairs for electrical outlets on campus through Facility Services. Aydin also hopes to improve WiFi on campus to improve online accessibility as well as creating an MSU app that would act as a resource hub for MSU resources and services to be shared on. Aydin also hopes to address both mental and financial accessibility by implementing a “Pay it Forward” system where students can pay for a ‘button’ that would allow students to purchase a product that can be later be used by an anonymous student to improve financial and issues of mental health.
Though many of the candidates running address physical accessibility concerns that apply to all students on campus, diverse accessibility concerns could be better represented.