AMS acclamation omits students

Without a vote of confidence, Team CBW’s imposition as incoming AMS executive was undemocratic.

The AMS acclaimed CBW — Kanivanan Chinniah, Kyle Beaudry and Catherine Wright — as the 2015-16 executive last week, after they were the only team to fulfill the election’s nomination requirements on time.

It’s never explicitly stated in AMS elections policy what to do in the event that only one team runs. If a situation that isn’t covered in policy arises, the AMS Chief Electoral Officer is mandated to “interpret the policy in a manner consistent with its intentions.”

Election by acclamation has been used in the last three AMS elections where only one team has run — 1983, 1990 and, now, 2015.

But acclamation isn’t in the spirit of the policy. Instead, it prioritizes the best interest of the team involved and omits the input of students.

With an acclamation, the winning team — who will be responsible for student advocacy, services and commissions — is ushered in before students know anything about them, simply because they handed in the right paperwork on time.

The AMS needs to hold a vote of confidence, as ASUS, ComSoc, CESA and ResSoc did last year in uncontested elections. The AMS’s executive election policy should also be updated to explicitly state what to do in the event that only one team runs, rather than leaving the policy up to interpretation.

Whether students have confidence in the single team or not, they deserve the opportunity to voice their opinion.

Voting, even for confidence, establishes accountability in those who are eventually voted in. That accountability isn’t there with an acclamation; voters have no say in who’s selected to run their society.

The AMS didn’t send an email — or any message to all students — announcing the acclamation. Instead, they announced it over Facebook and Twitter, which only their followers could see, and released a press release that, instead of being featured on the front page of their website, was buried in the “Campus News” section.

In lieu of debates, CBW is hosting a pair of public forums — on Monday and Tuesday evenings — to meet with students and discuss future initiatives. These forums weren’t sufficiently advertised in advance.

While it’s problematic that there’s no specific AMS policy to deal with uncontested executive elections, the crux of the issue is that only one team ran in the first place.

AMS Chief Electoral Officer Chris Casher told the Journal last week that the election process was “properly advertised” — but two print advertisements in the Journal, a post on the AMS website and a 26-word announcement in the executive’s December newsletter isn’t nearly enough.

Mass emails, poster campaigns, class talks and messages on TV screens in the Queen’s Centre are all ways the AMS could have better advertised the nomination period — and, perhaps, attracted more than three candidates from over 16,000 undergraduate students.

Without a voting process to let students choose their future executive, CBW has to work even harder to prove they deserve their new roles.

So far, their relationship with the student body has gotten off to a rocky start.

While nominated teams usually release their platform at the very beginning of the campaign period, CBW only released theirs Monday — five days after their acclamation, without any public explanation for the delay.

CBW — whose three members all have experience working for the AMS or a faculty society — should have had their platform ready for release last Friday. Even a brief summary of their primary objectives would have sufficed.

So far, the AMS and CBW have done the absolute bare minimum to engage students. It’s a troubling approach from our current and future student leaders.

Journal Editorial Board

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