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A little over three years ago, I excitedly moved into my student house. I predicted it would soon become the backdrop of my soon-to-be reality TV-worthy student life, but instead I was welcomed into my new home with a slew of landlord upsets. With everything from bathroom leaks, to broken decks, to a mysterious older man who used to enter our home at night to fix the plumbing (yes, this was as terrifying as it sounds), at times my student house was more of a problem than a personal oasis.
At the time, I didn’t realize that all of these issues were at the fault of my landlord, since he often asserted his authority in a way that made myself and my housemates feel responsible.
We are definitely not the only students to be in a situation like this. Tenants of Westdale and Ainsliewood homes have often fallen victim to landlord traps that place them in uncomfortable and unlawful positions. In an effort to combat this problem, the MSU’s Student Community Support Network has launched the #MacLivesHere campaign, a Twitter and recently MUSC-centric campaign that will help students become better acquainted with leasing homes and give them an opportunity to share their grievances.
The #MacLivesHere campaign is, in theory, a great idea. So many students get into signing leases without knowing all their rights, and this has led to complications in the past where students end up getting the short end of a deal that is supposed to be in their favour.
The only unfortunate part of the campaign is that it is run by a somewhat overshadowed MSU service, the SCSN.
The MSU is a big organization. It is comprised of both large and small services, with some getting more attention than others. This structure is something expected, but it also begs the question, how necessary are all of our services, and can our money be better used serving groups with the power to make campaigns noticed and accessible?
The SCSN is a service that is meant to help students build positive relationships with the Hamilton community. Unfortunately, even though their aim is noble, some of their efforts and campaigns often get overlooked when larger groups take center stage. It could be a valuable and well-used service for students, but when larger promotions sidestep its actions, the group just appears to be another accessory of the MSU that helps keen students piggyback on a service to work their way towards a future full-time job with the Union.
As a person who is more informed about campus events and services than most, I still don’t know all that much about the SCSN. It is one of multiple MSU services that passes just enough under the radar that very few seem to be checking up on them — this is a disservice both to them and the student body.
Perhaps its time to take a good look at our services and decide which ones are worth our time, and figure out how we can better use our resources to make those shine. It would be great to see more students exposed to the Mac Lives Here campaign, but as far as many students are concerned, SCSN hasn’t even signed a lease.