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For Vice President (Education) Innovative Solutions. Strategic Advocacy. Grass roots Engagement.
Dear members of the Student Representative Assembly, I stand before you as a candidate for MSU Vice President Education 2012/2013 at the culmination of what has been a long and ultimately rewarding four year journey through almost all facets of student life at McMaster. I have been a student, a part time employee, welcome week rep, student representative, conference delegate, varsity athlete, intramural participant, club member, mentor and friend; interacting with thousands of inspiring individuals that call this University home. I first got elected to MSU First Year Council as the Education & Community Commissioner and consequently over the next four years through SRA, Standing Committees, Executive Board and as the External Affairs Commissioner I have passionately dedicated myself to the improvement of student life at McMaster and MSU as an organization. Through my experiences and growth I have come to love this organization and have developed a vision for what it can further offer for the improvement of student success at McMaster. I have grown immensely as a student, leader and student advocate in the last few years and I believe I am ready to take the penultimate step in my journey. The field of Education for me has also evolved into an interest beyond simply a “job” or “volunteer” experience to an opportunity to create utilitarian and categorical change in the lives of not just McMaster students but also wider Canadian Society through our membership OUSA & CASA. Through this passion I have become a pioneer in integrating the scientific method and rational policy process into the MSU while maintaining a strong commitment to innovation and creativity, as demonstrated by my track record and the dynamic nature of my platform ideas. Furthermore, I also believe that the MSU is at a pivotal and precarious situation as an organization just recovering from a financial deficit and my institutional memory will be helpful for the Board of Directors and Executive Board in strategic planning and structural evaluation over the next year, especially considering the high SRA turnover. I believe the MSU needs a Vice President Education who offers a unique mixture of acquired knowledge, considerate and strategic advocacy approach, demonstrated results, passion for student success and exceptional experience; especially considering the circumstantial events occurring in the periphery of this sector next year. I believe that I am the strongest candidate because I can strongly identify with all of the aforementioned traits and I hope my platform, approach and presentation is able to convince you of that. Sincerely,
Huzaifa Saeed Candidate for Vice President (Education) 2012/2013
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» SRA Social Science Representative (October 2009- March 2012) » MSU Executive Board (September 2010- March 2012) » MSU External Affairs Commissioner (May 2010-March 2012) » Silhouette Board of Publication (May 2010- March 2011) » CASA Bylaws Committee (June 2010- March 2012) » CASA Policy Committee (June 2010- March 2012) » OUSA Campus Research Council Member (September 2010- March 2012) » MSU Space Audit Committee (January- March 2012) » Pioneer: MSU Advocacy Think Tank (June 2010 – Present) » MSU Bylaws & Procedures Committee (January 2010- April 2010) » MSU Operations Committee (April 2009- March 2010) » Advocacy Street Team (September 2009- March 2012) » MSU First Year Council Education & Community Commissioner (March 09- October 09) | Elected FYC Ex-Officio (October 2009- September 2010)
» McMaster IT Systems Renewal Steering Committee Student Representative (December 2010- May 2012 minimum) » Forward with Integrity project: Taskforce on Community Engagement- Undergraduate Representative (January 2012-April 2012) » McMaster Social Sciences Society Chief Returning Officer (September 2010- February 2012) » Social Sciences Welcome Week Rep (2009, 2010 & 2011) » Brandon Hall Residence Orientation Representative (2011) » McMaster Judicial Affairs: Peer Conduct Board Member (March 2009- April 2010) » MacInsiders.com Insider Agent (August 2009- Present) » Administrator: McMaster Social Sciences Class of 2012- 2015 Facebook Groups (May 2009- Present)
» Customer Service Representative, Shell Stoney Creek (July 2009- November 2011) » McMaster Intramurals, Soccer Referee (January 2009- February 2011) » Production Operator, Chrysler Canada (Summer 2012)
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» McMaster Students Union Honour M Award (2012) » Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance Excellence Award: Campus Researcher of the year 2011/2012 » SRA Commissioner of the Year 2010/2011 & 2011/2012 » SRA Committee of the Year: External Affairs Committee 2010/2011 » McMaster Social Sciences Society: Student of Distinction Award 2011 » Board of Directors Award for SRA Operations 2009/2010
PSE Conferences Attended:
» Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) General Assembly: Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012 » Canadian Alliance of Students Association (CASA): » Summer 2010, Strategy & Policy Conference, Charlottetown, PEI » Spring 2011, Annual General Assembly, Vancouver, BC » Summer 2011, Strategy & Policy Conference, Hamilton, ON » Fall 2011, Federal Lobby Convention, Ottawa, ON » Spring 2012, Annual General Assembly, Halifax, NS » Hamilton Post Secondary Education Roundtables: Fall 2010, Winter 2010, Spring 2011
Salient Projects Researched, Developed and Implemented:
» MSU Tuition Policy (October 2011- January 2012) » MSU Student Housing Research Paper (January- March 2012) » MSU Student Financial Aid Literacy Research Paper (January- March 2012) » OUSA Student Heath Paper Submission: Suicide Prevention, First Year Transition & Social Networks (Commissioned March 2012) » MSU Your City Survey (January- April 2011) » MSU Elections Strategy Project (March 2011- Present) » OUSA Student Success Paper Submission: Learning Pedagogy and IT Infrastructure Investment (Commissioned March 2011) » CASA Constitution and Media Relations Bylaws & Procedures (Commissioned March 2011) » External Affairs Committee CASA Review (May 2010- January 2011) » OUSA Access Strategy Focus Groups Convenor (October 2010) » 2010 Municipal Elections Candidate Questionnaire & 2011 Provincial Election Platform Analysis » McMaster IT Systems and MUGSI Research Project (September 2009- Present) » Pioneer & Co-Convenor: SRA Initiative and Lobbying Efforts for a Web Based Email System at McMaster (January 2010- November 2010) » Online Voting Research Project (May 2009- September 2009) » Inaugural First Year Council Education & Community Survey (March 2009- September 2009)
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The Vice President Education role next year will have an open ended mandate due to a lack of major natural events(eg: Elections) occurring in this sector. My platform is primarily composed of issues and concerns that I have tracked over my four years at McMaster; Issues the MSU has never addressed or even discussed in the past. The secondary goals consist of innovations to the traditional jurisdictional responsibilities of the VP Ed.
Pursuing a leadership role for the MSU within OUSA and CASA
I am strongly committed to pursuing leadership roles within both of these organizations because of the indirect supplementary benefits they provide to McMaster in the short and long run. I hope to pursue a Vice Presidential spot for OUSA as it will allow me to gain access to additional meetings and consultations with stakeholders, giving the MSU a voice on the table. Within CASA I hope to pursue the Chair of Policy or Bylaws Committee so I can help facilitate a more efficient and productive culture of project work within the organization. I believe that a lot of criticisms associated with CASA for unproductive policy generation can be fixed by a member like the MSU leading by example. Why I am best suited for this? I have an exceptional amount of preexisting experience with CASA & OUSA that will help me navigate my goals. Having attended five CASA & OUSA conferences and being an active member of two separate CASA Committees, OUSA Research Council as well as having conducted a comprehensive CASA Review as the EA Commissioner I know the organizations, member dynamics and home office staff very well.
Access Copyright, Course Reserves and Online Material
Copyright legislation and it’s affect on the educational experience of students across Canada has been a major point of contention over the last year. At McMaster, I have heard numerous complaints about Instructors no longer offering textbooks in Library reserves and claiming to be unable to upload lecture notes and course content on Avenue2Learn/LearnLink due to “Copyright Issues”. From my understanding and research, It is should be legal under copyright law to put any printed book on reserve according to the Copyright Act. My plan is to pursue whatever recourse necessary with faculties and libraries to ensure these integral components of student learning are available in libraries and online. Why am I best suited for this? I have monitored research and news happening in the Copyright sector for the past two years. It was an issue we have extensively discussed at CASA Policy Committee as well as in our meetings with Hamilton MPP’s. It was also for a while my Honours Thesis topic.
Provincial Tuition Framework & “30% Tuition Grant” Ineligibility:
The Provincial Government has delayed the creation of a new framework till 2013, I believe it is the role of the MSU to take a proactive role in lobbying the administration and government into implementing
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some of the priorities proposed in the MSU Tuition Policy passed by the SRA in February 2012. Some of the recommendations include: All students be offered the ability to defer half of their tuition payment until January OSAP release free of charge or gain an automatic deferral. That the Government Cancel the planned elimination of the Textbook and Technology Grant for all students and most importantly that the Government should investigate a more comprehensive application appeals process to potentially award to grant to currently excluded outliers on a case by case basis. In preparation for the latter issue, I hope to conduct surveys and focus groups to ascertain qualitative and quantitative information on issues specific to McMaster University and it’s unique demographics. This will allow us to conduct a more specific lobbying campaign relative to McMaster’s needs. Why am I best suited for this? I was the lead author for the comprehensive MSU Tuition Policy as the External Affairs Commissioner. That has given me a broad based understanding of the finer nuances of the Tuition Debate. Other Potential goals: Pursuing research papers on MYYA (Multi Year Accountability Agreements): I strongly believe that in the long run governments value efficiency and accountability in their public spending funding and while the current set of MYAA indicators are adequate. I passionately believe that the MSU and OUSA needs to research and push for more fluid metrics, especially concerning quality of education within the framework. Pursuing a research paper on the Socioeconomic value of a University graduate to Canada , Ontario and Hamilton: While there is common consensus that a University degree is highly valuable for the individual, there hasn’t been an exploration for multiplier impact of graduates to the economy and culture of these jurisdiction.
Municipal Relations & Your City Survey Recommendations:
The MSU has historically lacked active political relationships and goals at the Municipal level. As the convenor for the very successful 2011 Your City Survey, my vision for it was to present and push for the recommendations identified by students concerning recreation, outside the classroom learning, creation of additional jobs and internships, transit and cultural promotion to various stakeholders in the city. I hope to generate policies and lobbying initiatives specifically tailored to various stakeholders within the City of Hamilton. Campaign for McMaster 2.0: Looking at media coverage and from personal experience interacting with Hamilton residents, I believe that the average McMaster student is unfairly stereotype and stigmatized as an unwelcome presence within the City. I hope to run a creative public outreach campaign to help alleviate that issue. I hope to conduct a series of first person videos highlighting the positive impact an average McMaster student has. For example following students in various faculties through their daily routine across campus,: Nurses at their placements, Science students researching in a lab, a fine art student in their studio, clubs fund raising and so on. Central Volunteer Project Repository: From personal observation and observing discussion
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occurring at the Forward with Integrity Taskforce on Community Relations I have identified that McMaster lacks a central informational database for existing volunteer opportunities offered by faculties, clubs and departments. Helping the FWI project create this will strongly facilitate student involvement in Hamilton. Why am I the best candidate to pursue this? As the Convenor for the MSU Your City Survey, I have been extensively involved with research work on Municipal Relations, I am also the student representative on the Community Engagement Taskforce for Dr Patrick Deane’s Forward with Integrity Project, lastly it is also my Sociology Honours thesis topic.
Pedagogical Advancement and Learning Innovations.
In the past two years, through direct dialogue with and listening to University President Dr Patrick Deane, Dean of Students Dr Phil Wood and Center for Leadership & Learning Director Dr Sue Vajoczki; I have realized that there appears to be an incredible opportunity for the MSU to pursue innovations in teaching and learning across all faculties in McMaster. A student at Mac in the early 90’s did not have the same cognitive experiences as a student in 2011 and there is extensive existing research and best practices across the world that McMaster will adapt, it’s not a question of “if ” but “when”. I have been encouraged so far by for example CLL that the MSU can definitely be a “critical” voice on the table. It is also an issue that will definitely appeal to the entire student body.
First Year Learning
It is an area of concern for me that McMaster has no strategic goal or reevaluation for “Why” organize the First Year Experience across faculties according to existing models, despite pressures like rising class sizes and changing learning culture. I am hoping to work extensively with faculty societies, caucuses and faculties to investigate innovative proposals. A few potential action plans are: » Extending our repository of research and best practices through personal efforts and the University Affairs Committee to create a MSU Learning Innovations policy. » Conducting experiments, focus groups and town halls for students to contribute their feedback » Creation of a First Year Learning Community: The idea is to work with faculties to setup communities of 20-30 first year students each who meet regularly in a seminar setting. There will be periodic presentations from upper year students, counsellors, graduate students, professional(law/ medical school) students, Industry Professionals and other experts who facilitate a learning and career planning discussion with these students who normally wouldn’t get an opportunity to interact with their peers in a non academic setting. Why am I the best candidate to pursue this? I extensively researched OUSA Student Success Paper submission was also based on the topic of Active Vs Passive learning pedagogy and Classroom Technology. I have also directly lobbied on this issue at the Hamilton PSE Roundtables in the past. As such, my existing knowledge base is an indicator of my commitment to this goal. I also have extensive experience working with First Year students as a three time Welcome Week rep and through my
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involvement with First Year Council.
MSU Think Tank
I have passionately planned this ground breaking new concept for many years now. The “Think Tank” will be an open ended online discussion forum where any student can submit proposals for projects and initiatives they are interested in working on. Readers can then sign up for these projects and add their unique expertise, a newly created MSU staff position will be observing and facilitating discussion and offering students the ability to access funds and decision makers. This will have an immense impact on the need for Experiential Education and Business Incubators at McMaster. For example: » Students hoping to fund raise for a specific cause or organization can create a self perpetuating temporary organization. » Students hoping to conduct research on various academic and real world issues or projects. » Students wishing to address various issues and concerns on Campus and beyond.
Student Mental Health Issues
Mental Health has become a topic of discussion on campuses across Canada with fears of a significant dark figure affecting student wellness and academic performance. The MSU worryingly hasn’t had a constructive discussion on creating a Mental Health Strategy in the past few years. I hope to facilitate that within the MSU and beyond. There are three specific recommendations I also hope to work on in the short run: Peer Support and Counselling: As of writing the Student Wellness Center lacks a peer help component and whether in partnership with SHEC or otherwise I hope to promote this alternative within the Wellness Center. It is beneficial for students who feel more comfortable in a peer setting as well as in reducing the multiple week wait times at SWC by taking over the lower priority issue counselling. Gatekeeper Strategy: In over 150 Universities across North America there is a Campus Wide “gatekeeper” initiative where any student, staff or volunteer is cognizant of indicators and symptoms of mental health disabilities. Consequently they are more inclusive in their interactions with such students. I have heard many horror stories of negative interactions between students and their Instructors, TA’s and Welcome Week reps for example. Support for Commuter Students: According to most survey’s one of the biggest indicators of depression is the quality of social support and friends, however commuter students naturally lack access to these networks in comparison to those living in residence or near campus. I hope to investigate services and considerations for such students. Why Me? I have conducted extensive research as part of my contribution to the 2012 OUSA Student Health Paper and this has been an area of concern for me in my interaction with random samples of incoming first years throughout their career at McMaster via my Welcome Week Rep positions.
Exploring the Creation of an Outreach Co-Ordinator Volunteer Position
McMaster has a significant population of students who self identify or come from backgrounds that can
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be described as Low income, Indigenous, International,Recent Immigrant, First Generation, Rural & Northern Students and so on. Both OUSA & CASA have conducted research that has identified the strong academic and sociocultural access and attainment barriers these students face upon entry to a large post secondary institution like McMaster. Through my involvement in organizing the Fall 2010 OUSA Focus Groups on Access for Underrepresented groups, CASA Policy Paper on Early Outreach and a recent Sociology of Education Seminar Course I have developed an understanding and empathetic interest in the needs of underrepresented groups on campus and have come to realize how the MSU doesn’t often directly address their barriers to education and engagement. This new position or potentially even committee would create Programming, information campaigns, Conduct Research and Liaison with other departments on campus that are already involved in some categories(eg: Student Success Center, MacFirstGen,Diversity, International Student Office etc).
I have worked diligently over the past two years to identify various areas on campus lacking infrastructure maintenance due to McMaster University allocating needed resources to other areas of the budget. I hope to creatively lobby the provincial government and local administration to address some of the lagging maintenance requirements across campus
On a related note, WIFI has been an area of concern at McMaster because of lack of internal budgetary allocation as well as a lack of provincial funding. I hope to use my existing working relationship with the UTS Director on this issue to further continue the quest to expand Wifi coverage across campus.
Strides have been made by last year’s University Affairs committee through their course evaluation project to facilitate students in ascertaining their course choices. However, I believe that a more broad based and innovative solution is required to expand upon the work done by the Course Evaluations Project. As I have demonstrated to various members Western University’s Science Society has created a comprehensive course Wikipedia that allows students from a variety of learning styles the ability to learn about course methodology, content, student comments and evaluation. I hope to work with faculty societies, caucuses and students into creating a campus wide counterpart at McMaster.
The MSU lacks a long term historical database of various policies and issues we worked upon. Taking example from CASA’s usage of the “Basecamp” software I hope to create a Profile of all major issues on campus(eg: Food, Transit, Tuition, Study Space etc) and populate it with historical work done on the issue. This will allow future members of the SRA to utilize lessons learnt and research conducted in the past to avoid wastage of Intellectual Capital.
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Role as a Corporate Officer and Board Member
The VP Ed also has concurrent responsibilities as a member of the MSU Board of Director and Executive Board decision making and I believe that of all the candidates through my relevant experiences and an institutional memory stretching back three years I offer something incredibly important and unique for next year. As mentioned earlier the MSU is at a pivotal transition phase with a largely inexperienced SRA and having a strong personal understanding of MSU Finances, Structure and the Long Term Strategic Requirements is a highly beneficial notion. Similarly important is my desire for personally facilitating and supporting the initial transition of next year’s VP Admin and Finance with my institutional knowledge. I have also known and worked with Ms Siobhan Stewart in various capacities over the last two years and have worked with her as a Caucus member and on the External Affairs Committee.
Systems Renewal Committee
One of my major motivations for continuing my involvement with the MSU is also a strong desire to complete my involvement with the implementation of MUGSI/SOLAR by Summer 2013. Having put over 300 hours of committee work and many more researching and understanding software engineering and business process requirements and RFP’s I have an incredible Intellectual Capital that will help me ensure the success of the project from a student perspective.
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To conclude I am incredibly excited and humbled at getting the potential opportunity pursuing my outlined goals and everything else as your Vice President Education for next year. The MSU has been a significant part of my life in my time here at McMaster and I feel no qualms in dedicating myself to the organization and student life for the next year. While admittedly, any candidate will have a lot to learn in terms of this role I hope through the depth and specialization of my platform I have managed to convince you of much effort and thought I have put into the compilation of this document and my merit as a qualified candidate. I also assure you that I fully understand and will strongly implement a few VPED job expectations that I have purposefully left out; for example oversight and support for the Advocacy Street Team, Teaching Awards Committee. Through my knowledge and experience I believe I have the smallest learning curve of any candidate and would be ready to go starting May 1st in not just doing my own job but also naturally being able to help you as an SRA member succeed with your ideas and projects. This document is also just a temporary snapshot of my current understanding of VP Ed; but through transitioning and collaboration and feedback from SRA members my ideas will hopefully become even stronger, and I’m sure I’ll add even better ones to my portfolio! Lastly, I also hope to let the SRA select and identify which projects and goals they would like me to work on from the one’s identified on my current document and the many many more I have in my mental locker through a voting process at June and July Training. This will bring about a unique new regime of accountability and empowerment of the assembly members. I would like to thank everyone who has helped me in my growth and accomplishments over the past three years, previous board members and everyone else who helped facilitate my platform and approach and lastly new and returning SRA member members for personally meeting with me.
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