It’s time to dispel the stereotype

AMS municipal affairs commissioner urges students to vote at the municipal elections on Nov. 13

Ryan Quinlan-Keech, AMS Municipal Affairs Commissioner
Ryan Quinlan-Keech, AMS Municipal Affairs Commissioner

There is one major thing that has come to trouble me about local politics here in my native city. Kingston has a total population of about 120,000, and students at Queen’s University make up more than ten percent of this total.

In Sydenham district, where Queen’s is located, students make up the vast majority of the residents—two-thirds of the residents in this district are current students, according to the City of Kingston. Similar demographics can be found in Williamsville, and to a lesser extent, King’s Town and Portsmouth.

Many of you are probably reading this article sitting in a chilly room in a dilapidated house that fails to meet even the most basic of property standards and fire code legislation.

You might have a landlord who tries to pull the veritable wool over your eyes, illegally raising your rent or refusing to make necessary repairs to your unit—all with a clever smile and a sly handshake. Coming home from the bar last week, you might have felt unsafe walking in one of the hundreds of poorly-lit areas that dot our campus community. Just a couple of days ago, you might have found that the two-bag garbage limit in our city was insufficient for the burgeoning waste needs of your eight-person house. All of these things are problems common to our student experience at Queen’s.

What’s more, they are all are problems for which solutions can be discussed and implemented through the actions of Kingston city council.

On one hand, we make up a very large proportion of the eligible voting population in Kingston. On the other hand, major problems common to the student experience at Queen’s that can be solved through the actions of city council have persisted for generations—with little action from council. This is a government that is elected to represent our interests in combination with the interests of all Kingston residents.

Why does this seem contradictory? A major part of the explanation is that city politicians in this town know that we have traditionally not taken the time to go out and voice our concerns when it truly counts at the municipal ballot box.

On Nov. 13, I submit you all to prove this particular stereotype is dead.

Some candidates appreciate the contribution that Queen’s students make to the Kingston community, while others believe that we are “self-indulgent” and “most privileged” stated on Bill Glover’s campaign website, who is currently running for council in Sydenham. Somehow students are undeserving of the same attention from municipal government awarded to other Kingston residents.

The AMS candidate grading and endorsements, whose results are available at myams.org, attempt to cut through the political garbage that we all hear at election time. Whether you agree or disagree with our analysis, it’s abundantly clear that as students, we need to emphasize that we want representatives on Kingston city council who will work for positive change on the issues that affect all of us during our time at Queen’s.

The only way that we can accomplish this is if we all take a half-hour out of our busy schedules this Monday to vote.

In addition to being critically important to the future of students, voting is going to be incredibly easy. If you don’t know where to vote, visit the table that will be set up outside the JDUC on Monday, tell us your address, and student volunteers will drive you at no charge to the right place, then pick you up to go back to campus.

You don’t need to be registered in Kingston in order to vote this Monday—all you will need is your student card (or other piece of photo ID) and officials will add you to the voter’s list on the spot upon swearing a quick oath and informing them of your address.

Ontario provincial law says that, because you are also a resident of Kingston, you have the right to vote here and in the Ontario municipality where you live away from Queen’s.

If you don’t feel like you’re informed, visit myams.org/mac to discover the detailed analysis of all of the candidates running for mayor, and for council in Sydenham and Williamsville Districts. The also reported on the candidates for mayor and in four Kingston districts heavily populated by students.

So, here is my pitch to you—don’t let another day go by where local politicians think we don’t vote. Let’s not allow one more student house to fall into disrepair, one more student to feel unsafe walking home through unreasonably-darkened streets or one more Queen’s house’s waste to go uncollected. Let’s not allow one more unthinking Kingston politician to hurl an insult at Queen’s students because they believe that we do not have the will to vote for change.

It’s high time for us to dispel the stereotype. It’s time for us, as Queen’s students, to vote this coming Monday for candidates who will represent our needs, as full members of the Kingston community.

I can guarantee all of you that our time at Queen’s will be better because of it.

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