AMS referendum decision lacks transparency

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When they decided to nullify the fall referendum results, the AMS didn’t just decide the fate of the election — student input was tossed out the window as well. 

The fall referendum results were nullified by AMS assembly in a closed door session after it came to light that their Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) hadn’t paid her student fees and was therefore not a part of the AMS. (*See Editor's Note below)

This isn’t the first time the AMS has bungled the election. Technical difficulties forced an extension to the election period this year, while concerns in the past include students being completely left out and emails being misdirected. 

The main role of the AMS is the collection and allocation of funds. The vast majority of interaction between students and the AMS involves paying their student fees, and then getting a say in where those fees end up. 

The clubs whose funding is now threatened offer important services to students, and the proper handling of their funding is perhaps the most important service students require from their student government. 

So, while it might make for a more lively AMS assembly to talk about adding more chairs in CoGro or making an app to count the number of people using the ARC, the AMS and students would be better served by a shift in focus back to the AMS’s actual purpose. 

Student apathy is often blamed for low voter turnout during the referendum, but if the AMS continues to waste students’ time and money, engagement will sink even lower — and it won’t be students’ apathy that’s at fault. 

The CEO’s only responsibility is dealing with elections. Appointing someone who was ineligible to hold that position — thus compromising the integrity of the entire election — is a fairly regrettable hiring decision.

But what’s more regrettable is that the AMS didn’t come forward and explain the mistake, and their decision. 

Instead, they had a closed door meeting to which none of the clubs affected by the decision were invited, then informed the clubs of their decision after the fact and told them to keep it confidential. 

The decision wasn’t even publicly announced until over a week after it had been made. 

The entire decision-making process lacked any transparency. The possibility of other options, such as only nullifying those results decided by a small margin, was never presented to affected students until after the decision had been made.

Nor was the questionable correlation between the CEO not paying their student fees, and therefore lacking integrity, ever explained. 

Legal concerns aside, there was a more open conversation to be had here between the AMS and the student body they represent.

But instead of focusing on how this decision would impact students, the AMS unilaterally decided to let their bureaucratic blunder get in the way of student well-being.

What’s done is done, but hopefully the AMS can take a lesson from this and be more open with students in the future. 

— Journal Editorial Board

*Editor’s note: Leah Kelley, the co-chair of the Queen’s Backing Action on Climate Change, told The Journal that Jon Wiseman, the AMS commissioner of internal affairs, informed her that the CEO was ineligible because she had not paid her student fees. The AMS, however, contacted The Journal on Friday, Nov. 28 to state that while the CEO was ineligible for her position, they have not given a reason for her ineligibility. According to AMS hiring policy, the CEO also would have been ineligible for her position if she wasn't enrolled in "at least 60% of a full course load".

Corrections

November 30, 2015

This article has been edited to clarify that alternative options were never presented to affected students until the decision to nullify the referendum had been made, but they were presented to AMS assembly in closed session.

The Journal regrets the error.

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