AMS executive summer in review

OISE Open House

Team CBW finds a replacement for Catherine Wright, sees the implementation of a new scramble crossing and prepares to launch their new website 

Kyle Beaudry (left) and Kanivanan Chinniah (right) stand on either side of Sarah Letersky (middle) following the announcement of her appointment as Vice-President (University Affairs) on Aug. 26.
Kyle Beaudry (left) and Kanivanan Chinniah (right) stand on either side of Sarah Letersky (middle) following the announcement of her appointment as Vice-President (University Affairs) on Aug. 26.
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Throughout the first four months of their term, the AMS executive — President Kanivanan Chinniah, Vice President (Operations) Kyle Beaudry and the recently-appointed Sarah 

Letersky — have worked to pursue a number of platform points they set out in the spring. 

Although Team CBW has seen the departure of Catherine Wright as Vice President (University Affairs) (VPUA) her replacement Letersky says she’s been transitioning well into her new position.

“We’ve been lucky to have a very strong team that we can rely on from our six commissioners to four directors and the four officers. They’ve all been very good and they’ve really dug into their projects,” Chinniah said.

New VPUA appointed

Sarah Letersky, ArtSci ’16, was appointed as Vice President (University Affairs) on Aug. 26, following the resignation of Catherine Wright roughly two weeks prior.

Wright resigned as Vice President (University Affairs) on Aug. 12, which she said was due to personal reasons.

“Our first priority is to ensure that the AMS can deliver strong programs and services that student rely on,” Chinniah said during the announcement.

“This appointment takes that into account, and we have full confidence in Sarah’s abilities to do exactly that.”

With her history of involvement in various student services and programing — including an internship with the 2013 Vice President (University Affairs) Thomas Pritchard — Beaudry said Letersky has demonstrated the qualities necessary for the position.

“[Sarah] is approachable, responsible and committed to serving students. We have full confidence in her ability to lead the [AMS] and step into the executive role,” Beaudry said.

Letersky submitted her resignation as the AMS Human Resources Officer. Applications for the vacant position were due as of Wednesday and the executive said they will be have a new replacement by this weekend. 

Common Ground seating

Although their initial plan for Common Ground (CoGro) has been reworked, planning is underway to add seating before the end of the month. Originally, the executive platform proposed to add bar style seating built into the walls around the CoGro, using a Student Centre Fund of $400,000 to cover the renovation costs. 

The plan they submitted this summer to the Student Life Centre Management Board features lower and longer common worktables extending from the pillars. Having received quotes and fittings for the new furniture, they only require approval from the board, which will meet next week to vote. 

The increased seating will provide a maximum capacity of 263 chairs — 37 seats more than the current accommodations.

“This would not only benefit Common Ground as a service, but also address the need of declining study space on campus,” Beaudry said.

Bus routes

The team picked up from where the previous executive left off with the new Route 20 buses to the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. 

Their official platform aimed to extend bus services throughout campus. Through initial conversations with the city in May, the executive learned that there may not be enough money in the city budget to pursue new routes, however. In recent conversations, the AMS executive they were happy to hear that due to additional funding, new routes may be possible within the next year. 

They say they will continue to analyze ridership statistics at the end of September on Routes 17, 18 and 20.  

 

ReUnion Street Festival

“This year we’re lucky in the sense that the festival happened last year so there are a lot of hoops that last year had to jump through we don’t have to do this year,” Chinniah said.

The new executive is running with the momentum produced by last year’s executive on the Homecoming ReUnion Street Festival. According to the three executive members, they’re close to signing an agreement with the City to bring back the festival for a second year.

The executive have already obtained road closure and noise exception permits through City Council for the festival. At this point, the planning is merely operational aid, Chinniah said.

According to their platform, this year’s AMS executive aim for the festival to become financially self-sufficient. They told The Journal that they’ve been working with the Queen’s Office of Advancement for sponsorship. 

However, they say because the festival is only in its second year, they’ve been realistic in their expectations and budgeted for only a small portion of the festival to be funded by sponsorships.

ReUnion Concert 2014The Sheepdogs performed at the first ReUnion Street Festival last year. (Journal File Photo)

 

Experiential Credits

Experiential Credits, or ‘pass/fail’ credits, have long been a discussion point among the members of the AMS since it was first brought up in 2013. 

The executive said a joint proposal with ASUS is underway and will eventually be submitted to the Faculty of Arts and Science. They’ve decided to pilot the project in the Arts and Science before they proposing to expand it to every faculty. 

According to them, they’ve spoken with members of the faculty on several levels of the administration and have received positive feedback on the plan. As far as their official proposal, they say they are currently in the process of discussing details as to how many ‘pass/fail’ credits can be taken, course restrictions and other specific details. 

Much of the proposal will draw from models from other universities, such as UBC, with a few tweaks, they said.

Along with Experiential Credits, the AMS executive have been discussing new adaptations to the recently implemented Arts and Science Internship Credit.

Last year, ASUS and AMS lobbied for an Arts and Science academic credit for internships. The exec worked this summer to lobby for academic credit for certain positions within the AMS, with the program set to pilot next school year. 

ARC people counter

While the previous executive looked into the feasibility of Athletics and Recreation Centre (ARC) fitness apps, this year’s executive said there wasn’t enough room in the budget to pursue the proposal.

Instead, they’ve decided to look at current software to develop a way to track the use of the ARC gym. 

The ARC gym tracks how many students enter the facilities, but there’s no current software that tracks how many exit the facility. Moving forward, the AMS plan to look at other models, like body counting video cameras. The feasibility of such a project, they said, would determine whether or not to pursue it further. 

Otherwise, Letersky said she’s been working with AMS Marketing and Communications to develop a way to inform students on the peak hours, class times and special offers at the ARC. 

Student card

Last year, Hospitality Services changed its definition of what a meal equivalency could buy. 

“We saw this as an opportunity to see what our student card could do relative to other schools in Ontario, and it was significantly lower,” Beaudry said. 

While other schools can use their student cards to pay for cabs or restaurants downtown, Queen’s student cards can’t even be used at AMS services. 

Beaudry said he was unable to meet over the summer with Bruce Griffiths, executive director of Housing and Ancillary Services, to discuss the issue, but plans to do so in the coming month.

Health and Dental Plan

As part of their platform last year, WRL brought a dentist into the JDUC. With the new service available, this year’s executive has focused on communicating the details and benefits of the optional AMS Health and Dental Plan. 

They’ve set up a marketing campaign including emails and infographics, with less focus on print advertising. They’ve also worked on changing the dates for opting out of the Health and Dental fees so students can opt out throughout the entire month of September.

Budget transparency

One of the largest developments of the summer was the finalization of this year’s budget in August — two months earlier than is historically done. 

As part of the budget, the executive says there has been various savings made to avoid “creeping growth” in the cost of the AMS. Due to the early completion of the consolidated budget, the budget will be available online as soon as the new ASM website is launched.  

New AMS website

Picking up from some of the work of by last year’s AMS council, AMS Communications and IT have been working to complete the development of a new website for the student government. 

The new website is set to launch on the first day of classes on Sept. 14. Based on data on the most viewed pages, the new site will highlight what students want most from the AMS website by displaying them more prominently. 

JDUC revitalization

Last year, project planning for the revitalization of the JDUC began as the deadline to use the $1.2 million fund — originally collected to finance the Queen’s student capital contribution to Phase 1 of the Queen’s Centre — quickly approached. 

The AMS executive has set construction dates for the project, with the aim to finish within their term in office. Physical Plant Services will manage the project.

The AMS is currently waiting for a final quote from them before deciding which of the three proposed projects they will pursue. The executive says construction will ideally be finished by March.

Scramble crossing

Under the supervision of the Municipal Affairs Commissioner, the AMS teamed up with city councilor Peter Stroud to unveil Kingston’s first scramble crossing at Union and University Ave. The official ribbon cutting ceremony for the new crossing was held on Aug. 31.

 

Corrections

September 11, 2015
A previous version of this article spelled the word "hoops" incorrectly as "hopes" in a quote by AMS President Kanivanan Chinniah. The error has been corrected.

The Journal regrets the error.

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