The ying and yang of style and substance The open letter from the President of the MSU is redeemed by the yearlong plan

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Chukky Ibe, President of the McMaster Student Union, shared an open letter to the McMaster community entitled, “Trust Your Dopeness.” It is three pages long, but does not say much. At best, it is a motivational speech for you to keep doing your work.

The first page starts with a quote from “Blessings” by Chance The Rapper.

“I don’t make songs for free, I make ‘em for freedom. Don’t believe in kings, believe in the kingdom.”

The second part of this helps set up the rest of the letter well. A lot of Ibe’s points relate to this with bravado about what the student leadership throughout the extensive amount of clubs already do, the influence of McMaster and its students in the city and the want for you to reach out and tell the union what support and resources you need. It would be difficult to argue against his respect for those who are involved in the community.

The issue becomes when student leadership alone is what is on display. When you look at all the pieces and praise presented, the only point that exists is what you can continue to do for the university. There is nothing about what he can do for you or what vision he has besides you continuing efforts.

He has four points mentioned in the letter:

  • Building on Student Assets
  • Localization and Customization of Services
  • Making New Connections
  • Balanced Advocacy

None of these have a quantifiable goal or measurable end result. All them have plenty of responsibilities for you.

The first mentions, “By drawing on the strengths of student societies, the power of associations, and the supportive functions of student clubs, we can build stronger communities,” but fails to mention how he will help you do that.

The second mentions, “Students should not simply be passive recipients of programs, but should be engaged in the creation, development, and delivery of said programs,” which is just telling you to do more things with programs.

The third features lines like, “Through consolidation and flexibility of resources, we can continue to meet the needs of our student body,” but it is unknown how he would do this, what he feels needs consolidation or what he thinks the needs of our student body are.

There is no vision here. The letter fails to explain what his purpose is or how he can help you with anything.

The fourth has a different focus than only student leadership and initatives.

“We will rely on the multitude of perspectives from communities across our beautifully diverse campus, and seek external perspectives where there is a lack of clarity on any given issue,” but mentions immediately after that the MSU should not play a role in the public sphere.

It is unknown what he deems to be the public sphere, but this is awkward considering all the clubs that work on public advocacy and larger issues in general and his boasting about the effectiveness of clubs, “… who will raise funds, awareness, and volunteers for local and global initiatives.” The only justification is if these do not count as examples of student leadership throughout our campus.

The fact that he and his vice-presidents have participated in initiatives such as Walk a Mile in Her Shoes within the last month and the dramatic shift this has to last year’s active participation in advocating for the LRT also make this want to not play a role in the public sphere odd.

However, the yearlong plan is promising. At a substantial 4229 words and 14 pages, it details an extensive amount of goals, a rough timeline of what is a priority broken down by the summer, fall and winter terms and details the objectives, descriptions, benefits, difficulties, long-term goals, how they would be done and the partners needed for collaboration in a logical and systematic way.

It is great. You could always ask for more objectivity in the timeline and end results, but it is impressive nevertheless.

Where the letter fails to inspire confidence with minimal substance, a lot of tasks for you specifically instead of leadership from him and plenty of lip service, the plan should make you want to work towards those goals.

The letter is a failure without the plan, and even then does a poor job of communicating its intended message.

It does not make sense why the letter has been the emphasis to promote to McMaster students instead of the plan that takes up little more than a footnote on their website.

Give us substance and how you will lead us before asking us to take up the legwork. Complimenting what we have already been doing, then demanding we do more leaves a poor impression compared to a comprehensive package of how you are on the students’ side.

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Author: Shane Madill

As a graduate of McMaster’s Economics program and the Editor-in-Chief for Volume 88, Shane is a seasoned Silhouette contributor who formerly acted as an Opinion Editor, Online Editor, Online Reporter and Andy Volunteer. A man of many names and talents, his presence and work at The Silhouette is a constant reminder to “be the Shane you wish to see in the world.”