A review of the board of directors Now done two-thirds of their term, here’s a look at what the McMaster Students Union board of directors has been up to this year

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President Chukky Ibe 

Chukky Ibe’s last few months have focused on preparation, and the McMaster Students Union should expect to see the fruits of his labours as early as January 2018.

Ibe’s yearlong plan focused on large projects, many of which he has addressed since his term began in May. Since September, Ibe has addressed the majority of the projects on his platform.

Ibe has taken the necessary steps to create a post-secondary access strategy, his project aimed to make university more accessible to non-traditional students.

To do this, Ibe has allocated funds to turn a part of the MSU Student Health Education Centre’s office into a permanent lactation room, something SHEC will begin promoting in the coming weeks. This is meant to help support students with children completing their bachelor’s degree, a key point in his platform.

Ibe has also been in talks with the MSU Executive Board to expand the yearly MSU Creating Leadership Among Youth conference. Currently, CLAY is an annual conference but Ibe hopes to transform it into a full-year project aimed at making undergraduate education more accessible to secondary students in Hamilton.

Ibe also began working on his Good Food Delivery program, which when completed will allow students to have subsidized groceries delivered to their homes. The MSU is currently negotiating with Plan B Farms.

Ibe also helped plan Tech Lit week, a campaign aimed at teaching technology literacy. This campaign was a part of Ibe’s plan to optimize student technology.

Ibe also created graduate transition programming, meant to ease the transition from undergraduate to post-graduate work or career building. The MSU will be holding programming in collaboration with other campus partners in early Jan.

Ibe has also done work throughout the semester with other vice presidents to “Open Up the MSU”, by holding a weeklong open house introducing students to the MSU. He has also attended general assemblies or general meetings for various faculty societies and clubs. Ibe also worked with Ryan Desphpande, vice president (Education) to advocate for students on various issues.

The remainder his term will focus on executing his projects and transitioning them to the next president-elect.

V.P. Administration Preethi Anbalagan

Preethi Anbalagan’s role as vice president (Administration) focuses on training and supporting MSU staff, with a focus on service part-time managers, Student Representative Assembly members and associate vice presidents. She is also integral to the MSU’s participation in Welcome Week.

During Welcome Week, Anbalagan’s main role was introducing and expanding strategic themes, meant to aid the first-year transition. This year, the strategic theme committees were split into sub-categories, which caused some redundancies.

With this in mind, Anbalagan is building the correct infrastructure necessary for Welcome Week’s strategic themes. Anbalagan has put forward recommendations to solve some of these issues, which may be found in her Nov. 28 report to the SRA.

Since September, Anbalagan has also successfully trained the newest SRA members, who were voted in during the by-election period. To support the SRA, Anbalagan and the associate vice president (Internal Governance) have scheduled meetings with caucus leaders to discuss their concerns.

To support part-time managers, Anbalagan has made some changes to transition reports and feedback forms.

This year, Anbalagan has asked PTMs to write a midterm transition report to ensure that there are no gaps of knowledge in the transition packages. Before this, PTMs handed in one transition report at the end of their term.

To simplify feedback processes, Anbalagan digitized anonymous feedback forms and asked her employees to fill that out as opposed to paper forms. In her Nov. 28 report, Anbalagan published the results of this feedback form, which had 16 evaluation submissions.

Anbalagan’s scores ranged, with some managers giving her perfect scores while others dipping as low as a three out of 10. Some PTMs gave her high scores across the board and vice versa. All of the feedback given was anonymous and may be viewed in graph form.

In addition to this work, Anbalagan has also been working with peer support part-time managers and the MSU teaching and research assistant on a long-term plan for peer support services to ensure services achieve more collective goals.

Anbalagan’s next steps will include completing hiring and easing the transition process for the new cohort of part-time managers, SRA members and other MSU staff.

V.P. Education Ryan Deshpande 

As MSU vice president (Education), Ryan Deshpande’s role predominantly entails developing MSU policy and spearheading advocacy.

In his yearlong plan, Deshpande sought to ensure that a number of policy papers are completed by the end of the first semester.

The Health and Wellness, Academic Success and Student Employment and Experiential Education policy papers were passed at the Student Representative Assembly meeting on Nov. 12.

Deshpande’s yearlong plan also emphasized changes to the university’s status quo, including the creation of an Indigenous course requirement, a syllabus repository and changes to exam schedule policies.

While Deshpande was not able to mandate an Indigenous course requirement, the Indigenous Studies Program developed a course called Reconciliation 1A03 and consulted him during the process. The course will be offered to students in the winter term.

Deshpande acknowledges that changes to the university’s exam schedule policies and the creation of a syllabus repository will require a multi-year effort.

To fulfill the municipal advocacy component of his platform, Deshpande has increased MSU presence at Hamilton City Council meetings, attended rental housing subcommittee meetings and contributed to a research committee to advocate for a landlord licensing pilot project.

“Part of what I wanted to do with the city this year was make ourselves not a stand alone stakeholder, but make students better integrated with the city,” said Deshpande.

One of his objectives was to implement a Landlord Wiki aimed at improving landlord accountability. He says this will likely be completed in February 2018.

On the provincial level, Deshpande contributed to the development of the recently passed Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance Indigenous Students Policy. He has also been working with OUSA on student health and wellness advocacy.

On the federal level, Deshpande sought to work with ADVOCAN, a coalition that lobbies on behalf of undergraduate students’ interests.

Next semester, Deshpande will be focusing on the development of the Transit, Sustainability and Sexual Violence Prevention & Response policy papers. 

V.P. Finance Daniel “Tuba” D’Souza

In his yearlong plan, Daniel “Tuba” D’Souza, McMaster Students Union vice president (Finance), highlighted a number of objectives. His most prominent one was to create Marauders’ Nest, the 1280 café.

Although D’Souza initially sought to open the café in September 2017, this date was later pushed back to the end of the semester.

The construction of the café just finished, and job postings are being added to the MSU website this week. Now, the café is set to be in service in January 2018.

Another one of D’Souza’s key platform points was the implementation of an online ordering system for 1280.

However, when trying to implement this, D’Souza experienced logistical issues, including a high amount of employee turnover at 1280 and financial barriers.

In his platform, D’Souza also sought to restructure 1280 club nights. Fulfilling this platform objective, D’Souza has increased club night attendance by over 58 per cent.

As part of his yearlong plan, D’Souza also stressed the need for MSU community partnerships and more experiential learning opportunities for students.

Over the last few weeks, D’Souza has been exploring the development of a conference fund that allows students to attend conferences for free.

He has been pursuing trial runs for this fund, offering students tickets to conferences such as Ambitious City, which is being hosted by the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce on Dec. 1.

Another one of D’Souza’s year-plan objectives was to increase the MSU’s transparency about student finances.

“We hosted an MSU open house this year, and one big part of that was a pop-up showcase,” said D’Souza. “Throughout three days, we engaged with hundreds of students who came by and learned about where their money is actually going.”

While D’Souza’s plans to distribute Presto cards to McMaster students and consult students about the Student Activity Building have been implemented, D’Souza’s Discount Card platform point has been put on hold.

Nevertheless, D’Souza has helped hire a Campus Commercial Partnership Coordinator, who will be exploring the project as part of their role.

While a few of his platform points have yet to be fulfilled, D’Souza will be working to implement them throughout the rest of his term.

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