Every year, the Student Life Enhancement Fund, a joint collaboration between the McMaster Students Union and the university, accepts idea submissions about improvements around campus. These are vetted down and reduced to a few finalists for the students at large to vote on.
In the past, this has successfully provided improvements to Compass, microwaves and electrical outlets in the McMaster University Student Centre and the fitness and boulder circuit near the track field across from Les Prince. The results from the most recent process that starting in January of this year will bring about a new round of changes.
These changes will be upgrades to second floor furniture in MUSC, upgrades to MUSC atrium furniture, charging stations across campus, investment in composting opportunities and a MSU Maccess resource library.
- The second floor upgrades consist of creating lounge space and areas for collaborative work
- The atrium will include longer seating, plugs integrated into the seating and a more aesthetically pleasing environment
- Charging stations around campus will feature the ability to lock up phones, tablets and other devices as they charge with the ability to return to pick them up later
- The composting opportunities, after unsuccessful composting attempts in the past, will provide functional bins integrated into MUSC
- Resources for the MSU Maccess space has been promised to improve the ability to self-advocate and seek knowledge for self-empowerment
“I think that there are limited resources across campus, and I think this is a great way to ensure student needs are being met,” said Daniel D’Souza, vice president (Finance).
D’Souza explained the financials behind the fund,
“Students will pay their tuition, they’ll pay the MSU fee and then they’ll pay a [large number] of ancillary fees through the university. … Some of those fees go to student affairs. In the past, this has been a pool of money that was used by manager of student affairs to say, ‘Okay, we want these projects.’”
The fund has changed a bit since it began in its current, student-driven form in the 2011-12 academic year, but considering that it draws from student affairs, its current level of $150,000 per year dedicated to SLEF is a comfortable amount.
“It’s a delicate balance between how much is for student ideas and how much should be put towards core student services like career support and health. So that number right now I think is a good number in comparison to what else is in that fund,” said D’Souza.
At the time of writing, it is unknown how long it will take to implement this year’s projects.
While all of the upgrades that have been done and will continue to be done are a direct benefit, there is a major, indirect benefit as well. The ability to gauge student feedback and concerns, even if the ideas do not make it through the final voting phase, has had an influence on larger projects.
“I think that there are limited resources across campus, and I think this is a great way to ensure student needs are being met.”
Vice president (Finance)
McMaster Students Union
In particular, the Pulse expansion and student activity building referendum conducted in March of this year may have been inspired by past requests.
“SLEF is a platform for students to voice their concerns. I think [from] some of the things that we’ve seen in the past, it’s clear that students want more space, they want more amenities on campus. And I think those are some of the driving factors behind the building of this new student centre,” said D’Souza.
He also acknowledged that some of the ideas denied in the past may be more feasible in the next few years with this increased access to space on campus. When it comes to the new student activity building, however, the Student Representative Assembly is not going to wait until SLEF to start the feedback process.
“Right now, there is a committee struck by the SRA that is a student activity building consultation committee, so over the summer, they are making a plan right now to consult students on what else students want to go in this building.”