From Oct. 23 to Nov. 5., the McMaster Students Union surveyed students about their experiences with the Student Wellness Centre.
This MSU health services review was two years in the making, and was constructed by the University Affairs committee in collaboration with the Student Health Education Centre last year and taken up again by Ryan Deshpande, MSU vice president (Education).
On. Oct 23, the health services review survey was made available on the MSU website, giving students a platform to share their SWC experiences with the MSU.
The survey, in part, asked students about their demographic background. In the “Health Support Services” section of the survey, students were asked about their SWC experiences. Questions largely concerned wait times, the accessibility of SWC, blood test advisory, referrals to an off-campus health centre and the accessibility of counseling in the SWC.
In addition to facilitating this survey, the MSU held focus groups, giving students the opportunity to voice their opinions on student medical support at McMaster.
“The great thing about running this survey is that we can see what McMaster students are really having problems with and focus our advocacy accordingly.”
Vice president (Education)
McMaster Students Union
The results of the health services review will be used to inform the MSU’s stances on health and wellness.
“While all [our] policy papers are based on evidence and best practices, nothing is as valuable as large-scale input from McMaster students,” said Deshpande. “The great thing about running this survey is that we can see what McMaster students are really having problems with and focus our advocacy accordingly.”
Deshpande notes that the results of the survey will also be used to ensure that future advocacy efforts from MSU vice presidents (Education) and associate vice presidents of University Affairs are exclusively student-driven.
“We don’t want to fall into a trap where the opinions of a small group of students are guiding large-scale advocacy efforts, so it’s important we get the input of the student body,” said Deshpande.
However, the MSU health services review survey was not emailed to all students, being instead promoted heavily through social media channels such as Twitter.
Turnout rates from previous MSU surveys and elections suggest that students are increasingly disengaged from the union. It is unlikely that a significant portion of the student body participated in the MSU health services review.
Moreover, the fact that the survey was extended to Nov. 5, even though it was projected to finish on Nov. 3, implies that an insufficient number of students initially participated. According to the Your City Survey from 2016, they only received 484 responses, which is less than 2 per cent of the MSU population.
While the survey results may reshape MSU advocacy, they may continue to be unreflective of all students’ voices.