Nadarajah’s biggest challenge as president of the MSU will be in fulfilling her platform about women and resilience. While a respectable goal, concerns arise of correct consultation and accountability.
In the past two years, there has been discussion on campus about equal gender representation within governing bodies at McMaster. The Silhouette ranked McMaster eighth from nine Ontario universities in this factor – a statistic that Nadarajah hopes to see change. Listed on her website is her plan to back groups such as McMaster’s Women in Engineering MSU through funding. Nadarajah did not consult this group when coming up with this platform point.
However, it will take more than financial support to create the social change that Nadarajah hopes for. It will require an in-depth analysis of what groups are most efficient at both empowering women and breaking down social barriers – and backing these groups. It will also require greater dialogue with other underrepresented groups on campus. Nadarajah has already begun doing by speaking to Indigenous students for feedback on how they would like to share their voice. Nadarajah says the interest lies in story circles or focus groups but a more thorough consultation should involve a greater breadth of students. It should be noted that Nadarajah has not consulted McMaster Indigenous Student Community Alliance, but plans to do so once elected.
Another important aspect of Nadarajah’s goal is accountability. “When people look at leadership, they look at the measurable things at the end of the year that you can check off on a project basis, and this is not a project based platform point at all. It is a visionary platform point,” said Nadarajah in a previous interview. The lack of clear milestones will make it difficult to assess progress over time. Nadarajah acknowledges this ambiguity. “When you are trying to achieve social change, it is a very difficult platform to achieve. But it is also why it is so important,” Nadarajah previously said. Further complicating the issue is the fact that social change happens slowly – one year of presidency may not be enough. Progress will not be necessarily be obvious, but there also needs to be a plan of action for revising and improving the plan along the way.
Other groups that Nadarajah hopes to integrate better are those of international students, voices of mature students on campus and LGBTQ+ communities. The solution that applies to one group may not apply to another, a factor that Nadarajah recognizes. For this same reason, it will require extensive consultation and progress may be slow at first. When it comes to equal representation, there is no easy answer.
Ultimately, Nadarajah will have to do extensive research and problem solving – not necessarily alone – and will have to create a plan of accountability to ensure that her good intentions are carried out.