Ehima Osazuwa – MSU President
Ehima Osazuwa is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the McMaster Students Union. As President, Osazuwa acts as the key advocate for the student body in matters within the university and beyond. Osazuwa’s vision for the MSU has been notably progressive, and has been characterized by significant promises to improve student equity. These include plans to promote women in governance, improving interfaith accessibility, introducing more gender-neutral washrooms and updating university infrastructure to better serve the needs of students with visible and invisible disabilities. Osazuwa has generally focused on better addressing the diverse needs of the McMaster community, while also tackling long-term issues such as tuition and diversity.
Osazuwa has still been extremely communicative and accessible when needed. The President uses social media to frequently promote MSU Services and initiatives, and has even started a vlog series about his platform and role within the MSU via their Youtube channel. While this content has not been effectively promoted, it nonetheless provides a more effective way of communicating his platform for those who seek it out.
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So far, Osazuwa has delivered on his promises to improve the McMaster Clubs infrastructure and increase funding. He has also improved food accessibility by helping to increase Kosher and Halal food options, as well as installing new vending machines in Mills Library.
However, due to the long-term nature of his platform, the majority of the President’s goals are works in progress. The extensive amount of behind-the-scenes work will, for better or worse, will not see their completion or corresponding campaigns until next term. Tuition 101, MSU Wants You, gender neutral washrooms and OUSA’s provincial advocacy information campaigns are all slated for next semester.
Nonetheless, the President has taken all the necessary steps by meeting with various MSU services, clubs and university administration to tackle those ambitions. Reception to these efforts has been positive overall, and all parties are satisfied with the level of communication and collaboration.
Time is of the essence for Osazuwa, and he himself admits the difficulties of slow administrative processes when dealing with external parties. Osazuwa identified his frustration, but also stated, “I think my team and I have done a good job managing that time, but we only have 24 hours in a day, right? There’s only so much you can do in that time, so I think that’s been the biggest challenge.”
Giuliana Guarna – VP Administration
A graduate of McMaster Biology, Giuliana Guarna is this year’s VP (Administration). She previously served on the SRA for two years and has experience with multiple MSU services. As the Chief Administrative Officer for the MSU, Guarna is in charge of overseeing the MSU’s services.
Despite coming from different presidential campaign teams, this year’s Board of Directors seems to mesh seamlessly. For Guarna, this means that she comes to work looking forward to collaborate with people she can rely on.
“In my interactions with past boards, I’ve never seen a team integrate so well together. We definitely disagree, which is important because how else do we have progress, but I think we are very respectful of each other and very supportive in every aspect.”
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While Guarna’s platform points remain largely unresolved, she says it is because she has had to adapt to the role, putting platform points on the backburner in order to focus on other issues. For Guarna, this has been the highlight of her term. “I think it’s discovering unexpected areas to improve your portfolio,” she said.
Among the newer projects, Guarna implemented behaviour descriptive interviewing, with the goal of creating a more transparent system in which experience working within the MSU is not as high a priority as skills an applicant learned in a different environment. The process has already been used to hire three PTMs.
Another task she took on later was the creation of a PTM onboarding package, which is distributed to newly hired PTMs as a how-to guide for navigating the early days in their role.
One platform point that did not make it off the page was a checklist for event planners to use to ensure that events are accessible. Monthly feedback forms from PTM also did not make the cut, with the first SRA feedback form being addressed this Sunday and the PTMs undergoing a mid-year evaluation process now. On the other hand, the traditional bi-monthly meetings with PTMs have allowed Guarna to gather feedback while circumventing the tediousness of forms.
While Guarna could not have forseen the factors that led her to refocus her efforts, the vice-presidential candidates are largely chosen based on the merit of their platform. By voting for a candidate, SRA members voice their support for platform points they want to see realized. While this could be a flaw of the electoral process, or an issue specific to the role of the VP (Administration), Guarna was ultimately elected on her platform and she will hopefully be able to revisit some of her popular platform points in the next term.
Daniel D’Angela – VP Finance
The VP (Finance) is primarily responsible for overseeing the budget of the McMaster Students Union. In addition to the day-to-day finances and responsibilities, the VP (Finance) acts as the chair of the Silhouette Board of Publication, and is expected to involve themselves in projects that relate to the financial standing of the MSU.
One of D’Angela’s major goals as VP (Finance) was to improve the transparency and communication associated with his position.
However, his platform also included a communication strategy surrounding the new health and dental plan, which arguably hasn’t had a significant effect beyond Welcome Week, and a “Budget Townhall” at the beginning of the year outlining the use of student money, an event with a relatively small turnout.
Despite this, D’Angela has been making a concerted effort to communicate in new and logical ways. SRA members who have worked closely with D’Angela echoed that sentiment, and one noted that he’s been very receptive to working individually with SRA members seeking help with their own year-long goals.
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D’Angela has made significant strides towards completing his platform, and has been most successful so far in improving financial transparency for the Union and for its student representatives. The previously noted implementations of financial training for SRA members and monthly financial reports are good examples of tangible and sustainable efforts to improve financial literacy.
His biggest project remains in the works however, as he is hoping to implement a multi-year plan to provide solutions for student space on campus. While this goes beyond the infrastructure expansions planned for MUSC and is currently in a survey-phase, it is unclear how successful this plan will be yet.
“It’s preliminary for me to say what it will exactly look like,” he said. “Getting that information is what I really want to be one of my long-term goals this year so that next year’s team can clearly see … what’s the best plan.”
Some more ancillary platform points are on schedule, including the improvement and protection of services at the Underground.
D’Angela did note he believes he needs to spend more time working on his platform of improving transit advocacy, but considering that he has been on-schedule with the rest of his platform thus far, it’s fair to expect a similar, consistent effort.
Spencer Nestico-Semianiw – VP Education
The VP (Education) portfolio is known for the vast range of initiatives it covers. Despite that, Spencer Nestico-Semianiw has not only taken on the duties of the MSU’s lead advocate, he was also elected as the President of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, the provincial lobbying organization the MSU belongs to. The Arts and Science student’s initiatives are varied and tackle multiple issues important to McMaster students, from federal and provincial advocacy to improving course evaluations for students and faculty. Prior to being elected as the VP (Education), Nestico-Semianiw served as the External Affairs Commissioner for the SRA.
Nestico-Semianiw has so far been very communicative with the MSU at large. He is highly active on social media and responds to correspondence quickly. He has a blog on the MSU website that he updates on a monthly basis, and while he posts links to it on his Twitter account, it could be promoted better, much like Osazuwa’s vlogs. He did mention that internal communication with other members of the BoD had been somewhat problematic. “I think a challenge that we sometimes have with the board is who is in charge of what aspects of a portfolio,” he said.
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Again, much like Osazuwa, many of Nestico-Semianiw’s platform points are still in the process of being implemented. He has taken on a large portion of the President’s affordable tuition plan, a task he said he was not expecting to play such a large role in organizing. In the time he has held the position of VP (Education), Nestico-Semianiw has organized OUSA’s general assembly, however he hopes to be able to focus more on a collaboration between the MSU and the to encourage Mac grads to work in Hamilton after earning their degrees. “We’ve had a lot of progress on individualized work with employment … during our Municipal Advocacy Week we met with city managers and Hamilton Economic Development to talk about more employment issues for the city … but so far nothing has materialized in terms of a comprehensive system,” he explained. Looking towards the new year, Semianiw is faces the challenge of implementing his remaining platform points.