Every year, we hear the same sentiments about the McMaster Students Union presidential election: “why does this matter? The president doesn’t do anything anyway.”
The criticism is unfair, but the sentiment is understandable. The majority of undergraduate students are just beginning to really engage with politics beyond that silly Grade 10 civics course, and they are starting to see how politicians will fail to deliver on their promises.
As I noted in an editorial a couple weeks ago, presidents gone by have struggled to complete their platforms. It has turned some off student politics because they don’t trust the system. These people don’t believe that presidents will ever reach their goals.
I wonder if the 2017 election will only feed the narrative.
Through our critiques and during the debates, we found that president-elect Chukky Ibe’s platform had a number of ideas that were created with little to no consultation of relevant groups, meaning the feasibility of these projects is questionable.
Here’s an example: at the Silhouette’s debate, Ibe struggled to give a clear answer of where he would find the money to fund the expansion of services, saying he would “repurpose” money within the MSU. When pressed on where specifically the money would come from, Ibe gave an answer for the childcare platform point: repurposing the existing MSU emergency grants, a program designed to help full-time students in times of financial need. The MSU allotted $10,000 this past year for emergency grants.
In Ontario, child care costs over $1,000 over a month, meaning changing this fund would not help many students and also disadvantage those students who were claiming the fund before.
There may be other ways to fund this idea through repurposing, but the plan proposed isn’t a solid one. These are the scenarios that discourage people from getting involved.
And still, there is an opportunity. Ibe has a lot of work to do to achieve his ambitious platform; that’s a challenge, not a condemnation. By all accounts, Ibe is passionate and hard working.
If he can pull off the majority of his platform points, it should inspire people who don’t vote to get involved. The MSU has always been capable of real change and maybe Ibe can be the person to highlight that by completing a number of projects.
I stand by our reporting that found a number of significant roadblocks to success, so I’m not betting on it.
But yes, I’m saying there’s a chance.