Pillar 1: Time is Money
I. The Pulse: Live Capacity Counter
Have you ever been excited to go to The Pulse, only to find out all the equipment was in use? The Pulse Capacity Counter will enable you to know the facilities live capacity before arrival! What about being unsure about going to The Pulse and experiencing the gym life for the first time? With online equipment tour videos and free introductory group workshops, fear no more!
We understand that students are busy enough as is- phew! Sometimes taking care of yourself can take last priority, but we want to support you in accomplishing more in one day. Now that all MSU members have a Pulse
membership, it is crucial that we explore ways to make this a welcoming and accessible place for all students. The implementation of this space modernization would occur in phases - before and after The Pulse Expansion. The Pulse Capacity Counter will be implemented next year as a pilot that allows students to follow the gym capacity in live time on the Athletics and Recreation App.
"...This will allow students to see just how many treadmills are in use..."
The sign-in infrastructure in the entrance way will also allow students to sign-out, ensuring that numbers are consistent and accounted for which the current outdated chart is unable to track. Once The Pulse Expansion occurs, the technological infrastructure will include student card swipe portals in different areas of the gym. This will allow students to see just how many treadmills are in use, or if their favourite spinning machine is likely in use! In addition to technological advancements, we are committed to ensuring that resources such as online equipment tours and free introductory group workshops are offered for newcomers! The Pulse tour videos will feature our experienced trainers and include posture pointers and best practices. The free introductory group workshops will be run by volunteers, allowing newcomers to be shown around the facility and to be taught the use of common equipment.
II. Library: Live Capacity Counter
Have you ever found yourself scouring the rows of the library, losing hope and preparing yourself to accept any seat that becomes available? So have we! That is why we have found a way for students to see just how full the library is before arriving!
Have you ever been stuck wandering campus in search of a spot to study during midterms and exams, only to find nothing? This can be really time consuming. That’s why we will be accurately displaying the library capacity online – so you can check before you leave your house or residence. This would involve installing 3D overhead traffic counters at the primary entrances/exits of the main libraries on campus which relay information in real time to a server, which can then be accessed to display capacity numbers.
"...You can check the capacity before leaving your house or residence..."
This system also logs foot traffic data that has extremely valuable long-term value to the university when making monetary decisions about building expansions. Several companies offer these systems: the hardware costs between $1,000 - $2,000 depending on the ceiling height and proximity to an ethernet port, and each counter requires a $28/month membership to receive the data analytics package. To ensure that this is money well-spent, this project will first be implemented in Thode Library
and once uptake is demonstrated, will be expanded to other campus libraries.
III. The Skills Exchange
We want to give students the opportunity to market their own skills and interact with one another, all while earning a flexible income to offset university costs.
Many students possess a wide variety of marketable skills that could be employed in order to produce supplementary income. In building upon McMaster’s entrepreneurial and innovative spirit, we hope create a Skills Exchange that enables students to market their skills and services to McMaster students and staff. Offering anything from helpful services such as house cleaning and snow shovelling, to specialized skills such as app development or personal training, students will be able to create their own businesses.
"...Enable students to market their skills and services..."
We believe that a small business incubator on campus will allow students to gain empowering experiences, connect with one another, and naturally complement great work being done by The Forge. Upon speaking to representatives from the Financial Aid Office
, we know that student employment positions on campus are expected to decrease this coming year as a result of Bill 148. This includes the number of Work Study placements
. That is why this creative and sustainable solution which enables students to be self-employed is so crucial!
IV. GO Bus Re-route
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a GO Bus to and from campus and Toronto Pearson International Airport? GO Transit has agreed to work on a route change that will allow students to catch the 40 from McMaster University during popular times.
Does flying into town for school sound familiar? Ever taken the GO Bus from Toronto Pearson to McMaster? You haven’t. Why? Because the route DOES NOT YET EXIST. Currently the 40 GO Bus takes students directly from Toronto Pearson to Main at Paisley. This route only works for students who live near the Westdale as those who live on campus and in other student neighbourhoods cannot access this stop easily. Allowing the route to stop at McMaster University will greatly benefit international students, out of province students, and students from different parts of Ontario. GO Transit is interested in continuing this conversation, especially for periods including the start and end of the school year, as well as midterm and holiday breaks.
V. Bringing Uber Pool to McMaster Area
With unpredictable weather and expensive parking fees, it is about time student’s had another option. Uber is great, but uberPOOL is better. That is why we want to advocate for uberPOOL to come to Hamilton.
A significant number of students on campus reside in Ancaster, Hamilton Mountain, Stoney Creek and Waterdown where HSR service is not routine. This makes for a long commute to campus. We want to provide students with a cheaper alternative than contemplating calling an uber or having to pay unreasonable parking fees. Uber exists currently in Hamilton as a way for a person or a group of friends to move around the city in a convenient and cost-effective way. However, it is mainly a single occupancy service and ride-sharing options do not currently exist here. In May of 2016, Uber launched their ridesharing service “uberPOOL” in Toronto and has since began to expand to surrounding cities. This service effectively cuts costs to the user by matching them with up to 2 other people searching for a ride to a destination near their own.
With unpredictable weather and expensive parking fees, it is about time student’s had another option. Uber
is great, but uberPOOL
is better. That is why we want to advocate for uberPOOL to come to Hamilton. A significant number of students on campus reside in Ancaster, Hamilton Mountain, Stoney Creek and Waterdown where HSR service is not routine. This makes for a long commute to campus. We want to provide students with a cheaper alternative than contemplating calling an uber or having to pay unreasonable parking fees. Uber exists currently in Hamilton as a way for a person or a group of friends to move around the city in a convenient and cost-effective way. However, it is mainly a single occupancy service and ride-sharing options do not currently exist here.
"...A significant number of students on campus reside in Ancaster, Hamilton Mountain, Stoney Creek and Waterdown where HSR service is not routine...."
In May of 2016, Uber launched their ridesharing service “uberPOOL” in Toronto and has since began to expand to surrounding cities. This service effectively cuts costs to the user by matching them with up to 2 other people searching for a ride to a destination near their own.In working with Uber to bring uberPOOL to Hamilton, we will first conduct a review to aggregate the number of students who commute from these areas and are not quite far enough to use GO Transit services. Following the review, we will advocate to have uber drivers to activate their pooling services on the app during morning and evening hours. The service would then act the exact same way it does in Toronto and GTA where it matches you with other students or McMaster staff who are also travelling through uberPOOL. Overall, this is an effective marketplace solution that not only connects students, but also helps make Hamilton’s transportation services more robust in the wake of HSR’s scheduling issues and severely late busses.
Pillar 2: Knowledge is Power
I. Expanding Summer and Night Classes
Whether you are a working student or take spring/summer courses to lighten your load during the school year, you deserve to have a say in the selection.
Currently, the Faculty of Health Science
releases a list with several of the courses being offered, along with their times and terms. Available courses for the spring and summer term are based off of information collected through surveying students on what they would like to see being offered.These data collections allow not only for students to determine an action plan for their summer earlier on in the year, but also to advocate for content to be taught in different ways, such as during evenings or online that accounts for those hoping to take on employment or other initiatives during their time off. Moving forward, we want to advocate for other faculties to mimic the Faculty of Health Sciences model which dispenses summer and night class resources to target specific program requirements and areas of student interest.
II. Minor in Innovation and Entrepreneurship
McMaster students and staff are coming up with brilliant ideas and making the impossible happen with every passing day. We want students to be able to integrate their passions into their academics by having the opportunity to graduate with an Interdisciplinary Minor in Innovation & Entrepreneurship.
In recent years, McMaster has demonstrated a clear commitment to innovative and interdisciplinary learning. The newly completed Thode Makerspace
provides students with a space and resources to cultivate their ideas and feed their creativity. Building upon the provincial education agenda, as well as McMaster’s commitment to experiential learning, we plan to work with The Forge
and the Faculty of Engineering to ensure that a proposed Minor in Innovation & Entrepreneurship is interdisciplinary and accessible to all students.
This minor will provide students with the hard and soft skills to create a better tomorrow for themselves and the world. It will also include new learning opportunities through partnerships with The Forge (McMaster’s Incubator), possibly Hamilton’s brand new CityLab
, and courses that utilize the Thode Makerspace. Similar to the Minor in Sustainability, the Interdisciplinary Minor in Innovation & Entrepreneurship will utilize course credits from a variety of different faculties in order to make this learning opportunity accessible for all students. The Forge and the Faculty of Engineering are excited about this new opportunity and we look forward to shaping the future of this interdisciplinary program with them.
III. Health and Wellness Credits
We want to provide students the opportunity to integrate wellness into their academics. Through advocating for health and wellness credits to be offered as open courses and by more faculties, students will be able to integrate wellness into their learning.
Currently, there are several courses offered by the Faculty of Health Sciences
that allow students to conduct a deeper exploration of health and wellness topics. For example, HTH SCI 2J03 - Health, Attitude and Behaviour provides students with the opportunity to not only keep track of their own personal goals for growth and development, but also to further reflect upon specific concerns that are relevant to issues within their faculty/individualized career planning. These courses allow not only for upper-year students to collaborate through mentorship efforts with their younger cohort, but also opens dialogue that engages faculty members to take part in the conversation through formats such as regular meetings or round table discussion panels and aim to incorporate the feedback they receive into redesigning or evaluating the curriculum for future terms. Our goal is to increase the availability of these courses within different faculties as well as open up enrolment for students in other programs to access these classes. This will ensure that more students have the opportunity to integrate self-awareness and wellness into their learning.
Pillar 3: Hungry for Change
I. Free Food!
Cheaper meals sound impossible, right? Well, we’ve done something different to make the impossible, possible. We have found a way to reduce the cost of meals in a sustainable, realistic manner and allow students to get money back on their food purchases.
Through thoroughly investigating the Canada Revenue Agency guidelines and brainstorming creative solutions that will have minimal impact on Hospitality Services operations, we have found a way to offer 10% food rebates to students, and reduce student spending by up to 13%. McMaster Hospitality Services
currently offers tax-free meal plans under Canada Revenue Agency guidelines for universities, saving students 13% on their meals. These guidelines currently require that tax-free meal plans are able to provide students with 10 meals per week. As it stands, the minimum spending required in order to qualify for a tax-free meal plan is $260 a month, which breaks down to a minimum meal cost of approximately $6.50. After consulting with hospitality services, it has become evident that is possible to explore a lower minimum meal cost, which could reduce the monthly spending necessary in order to save 13% on meals (say, $180 a month). As well, it is possible to explore flexible meal plans that become activated after students reach the threshold minimum for tax-free as per Canada Revenue Agency guidelines.
"After consulting with hospitality services, it has become evident that is possible to explore a lower minimum meal cost, which could reduce the monthly spending necessary in order to save 13% on meals."
Sounds complicated, but basically, if you spend enough money (less than before) that month will automatically become ‘tax-free’ and you will be rebated 13% of your meal costs for that month. An alternative proposal for individuals who do not meet the minimum spending to qualify for the tax-free meal plans is to implement a 10% meal plan rebate when students reach a certain level of spending using their meal cards (but still not enough to qualify for a flexible tax-free plan).
Essentially, if you spend a $100 on food in a week, you'd get $10 rebate.
Hospitality Services is extremely interested in exploring this further. Together these two changes could enable massive savings for students on university campuses.
II. Grocery Store: Online Ordering and Waste Reduction
The new Student Activity Building is going to include a Grocery Store and we want this venture to be as affordable and sustainable as possible. By ordering produce ahead of time, the store can plan for purchases and offer healthier food items at a reduced rate. Even better, giving the grocery store an idea of their demand in advance will also reduce food waste! Everyone wins.
Grocery shopping can often be seen as a daunting chore, one that we would like to make more student-friendly. If you have not already heard, the new Student Activities Building is expected to have a Grocery Store. By creating an online platform for students to order their fresh fruits and vegetables, students will be able to conveniently pick up their weekly order. These bulk purchases will allow products to be less expensive and will also reduce the amount of food waste if products do not sell. The convenience of an online ordering system also allows students to avoid crowds and the inconvenience of going to the supermarket, and provides them the ability to browse options from their mobile device. We also propose that any fresh fruits and vegetables that do not sell within a 1 – 2 week period would be sold to the Food Collective
at a depreciated rate. This will in turn reduces food waste and allow Mac BreadBin
to offer a greater variety of nutritional foods to students.
Pillar 4: A place to call Home
I. Multifaith Center
Currently, McMaster does not have the resources to support the diverse religious beliefs that exist on campus. Through diversifying the chaplaincy to incorporate various religious services, A Multifaith Centre will allow students with more resources and support.
McMaster has a very diverse campus, made up of students from a number of different cultural and religious backgrounds. However, the religious resources available on campus do not meet the needs of this student diversity. We want to work towards creating a space for all students to practice their religion and access support resources. The current chaplaincy is excited about working with us to include chaplains from various religious backgrounds, as well as other religious leaders and services. As an area of priority identified by university administration, we will be advocating for a space to be allocated to this project.
II. Clubs Volunteer Portal
With over 300 clubs, there truly is a club for everyone here at McMaster! That is why it is so important for us to connect students to these membership and executive opportunities.
If you’ve ever been on facebook, you’ve probably seen a post about an executive application for a club on campus. The problem is that most clubs on campus are limited to facebook and their own club website in terms of outreach platforms. Facebook and club websites aren’t accessible platforms for every Marauder. We want to incorporate an MSU Clubs Volunteer Portal on to the MSU website to allow MSU Clubs
will be able to submit volunteer and job opportunities. The portal will allow students to access postings in a centralized space, make it easier for students to see the kinds of positions available on campus, and keep track of their applications.
III. International Student Strategy
Many students travel from a far to attend this prestigious institution and we want to make their transition a little easier.
1. Prior to international students arrival in Canada, we will create a portal through which international students can be paired with a student volunteer currently attending McMaster University. This student volunteer will be able to assist off-campus students in finding a room to rent as well as people to live with by going out into the off campus housing neighborhood, looking at rooms, speaking with landlords and facilitating communication between the international student and the landlord.
"...we will create a portal through which international students can be paired with a student volunteer currently attending McMaster University."
2. We will create a flight registry in which international students can put in their flight information, connect with other international students who are taking the same flight and provide information to student representatives who will provide them with landing information and greet them upon their arrival to McMaster University.
"...flight registry in which international students can put in their flight information, connect with other international students..."
3. We will provide residence and off-campus international students the choice to purchase housing bundles, including linens, kitchen utensils, and pots and pans. We will also allow a buy-back so that students can return purchased bundles that can then be sold as cheaper used options.
"...the choice to purchase housing bundles, including linens, kitchen utensils, and pots and pans.."
4. Finally, throughout welcome week, we will ensure that welcome week representatives are sufficiently trained in the needs of international students and increase the visibility of readily available support for international students on campus.
"...ensure that welcome week representatives are sufficiently trained in the needs of international students..."
Pillar 5: Strength in Numbers
I. Encouraging Student Voting
When it comes to addressing off-campus student needs, one of the most realistic areas to consider is our relationship with the city. It’s time we utilize our voting power to elect a municipal representative who will work with us in addressing student needs.
McMaster students make up a large percentage of Ward 1 demographics
. However, in recent years, our voter turnout has not been reflective of this representation. We want to work alongside Redeemer and Mohawk to develop a campaign that will encourage McMaster students to vote in the upcoming Municipal elections.
"This will work towards addressing a number of concerns including but not limited to landlord absenteeism, bylaw infractions, street lights and other important safety concerns!"
By encouraging student voting, Ward 1 municipal candidates will need to start addressing concerns raised by students. This will work towards addressing a number of concerns including but not limited to landlord absenteeism, bylaw infractions, street lights and other important safety concerns!
II. Student Wellness Centre Health Trends
Right now the Student Wellness Centre
doesn’t have the infrastructure in place to track when many students are being treated for the same medical conditions. We will create a system for the anonymous tracking of SWC visits, and share results in order to ensure everyone is aware of health risks in the McMaster community.
Currently very little aggregate information is collected on what specific medical issues students are facing at McMaster. By collecting anonymous information regarding Student Wellness Centre visits, including prescriptions, referrals, and diagnoses, we will be able to better understand the student population and what pressing health needs they are facing on campus. This information can be used to better allocate resources, as well as inform the student population of ongoing health-related risks (think twitter!). Students will become aware of health-risks in the local community, such as Strep throat, or STDs, and will be better able to prepare themselves against as a result. And the benefits of implementing a system like this don’t just stop there! Collecting aggregate data on Student Wellness Centre visits will also lead to better allocation of financial resources in the long-term. Better healthcare for all!
III. Universal McMaster App
Did you know there is an Avenue to Learn phone app? What about an Athletics & Recreation app? MacAssist? MUSST? A McMaster Map app? All of these apps are great, but they’d be even better all in one place! We will work with University Technology Services
(UTS) to create a long overdue, easy to use McMaster App.
With the McMaster App, information about academics, finances, navigation, clubs and services, safety, athletics and more will all be available at the touch of a button! This app will allow students to access university services and announcements quickly and efficiently. We understand that this project is not a single year venture but the first step is getting started! Working alongside UTS, we have planned out a realistic process we hope to embark on in order to tackle this exciting change. Firstly, we will work with UTS to revive, update and maintain existing McMaster apps such as the McMaster University Safety and Security
(MUSST) app and MacQuest
. We will then work to get different University departments, such as MSU services and clubs, to be added in phases to the app. This will allow the information flow to be added in an organized and feasible manner. Transparency and inclusivity are important to both the MSU and UTS in the creation of the McMaster app that works for all students! This will be done through an MSU representative who will be responsible for connecting UTS with student needs and ideas.
"UTS is interested in exploring the idea of employing students to assist in the development of the app, which will allow for job creation and direct student input."
We acknowledge that an important aspect of a project like this is ensuring that it is sustainable so that students can continue to benefit from it years into the future. This MSU representative will also be responsible for facilitating updates to the app to ensure it keeps up with student needs! In addition, UTS is interested in exploring the idea of employing students to assist in the development of the app, which will allow for job creation and direct student input. Once the primary app is developed, open-source development will allow extensions and add ons to be added to the app directly by students!With regards to financing, UTS and the University are excited to begin this project and the MSU is also interested in participating in the funding through sources such as the Student Life Enhancement Fund (SLEF).