AMS executive year in review

OISE Open House

From fall reading week to the Annual General Meeting, Team CBW — now CBL — reflects on their year

From left: Vice President (University Affairs) Sarah Letersky, President Kanivanan Chinniah and Vice President (Operations) Kyle Beaudry during Frosh Week.
From left: Vice President (University Affairs) Sarah Letersky, President Kanivanan Chinniah and Vice President (Operations) Kyle Beaudry during Frosh Week.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

It’s been one year since Team CBW was acclaimed as the AMS executive, and as their term ends, they say they’re finally hitting their stride. 

“It’s sad when the last four months are the ones where you really feel like you know what you’re doing,” Vice President (University Affairs) Sarah Letersky said. 
 
President Kanivanan Chinniah, Vice President (Operations) Kyle Beaudry and Letersky sat down with The Journal to debrief students on the year and the legacy they hope to leave behind.
 
Bus service evaluation
 
After multiple meetings with Kingston city officials, Beaudry told The Journal that changes to bus Routes 17 and 18 will be made to accommodate student demand starting in September this year.
 
Beaudry said Route 17 will be running on Johnson and Brock Streets to provide a quicker, more efficient ride to West Campus.
 
Route 18, which picks up passengers from the VIA Rail station and the Kingston Bus Terminal, will be expanded to extend services for students coming back to Kingston on Sunday trains and buses.
 
ARC people counter
 
The people counter was initially a campaign promising to track the ARC’s busiest hours. But Letersky said the AMS has settled for monthly graphics measuring peak times due to the logistical challenges of installing 
a counter.
 
“As it looks right now, [the graphics are] the most viable option because of the multiple exit and entry points into the Athletic Centre,” she said, adding that the technology required for a counter would have cost more than students would be willing to pay.
 
She said the monthly ARC graphics are accessible through the AMS’s Facebook page.
 
Increasing student card value
 
Though the AMS has had several discussions with Queen’s Housing & Ancillary Services throughout the year, there won’t be more uses for a Queen’s student card next year.
 
Beaudry said the incoming AMS needs to push and work on determining if adding the infrastructure to support a more versatile student card is worth the cost.
 
Fall reading week
 
At the March 16 AMS Assembly, the AMS executive told constituents that they plan to put forth a motion at the April Senate meeting to postpone the Fall Reading Week proposal for further student consultation.
 
Chinniah says that, on a technical level, the Senate Committee on Academic Procedures (SCAP) only has authority to set sessional dates, not the residence move-in or Orientation days. He said that the proposal assumes complete compliance from the bodies setting move-in and Orientation days — and that’s a problem.
 
“Students are divided on the costs the community has to pay for a fall break,” Chinniah said.
 
Letersky added that further consultation needs to encompass both students and experts to make sure that the proposal will actually help issues of mental health.
 
Repurposing the AGM
 
AMS Assembly passed policy amendments in the fall that removed Annual General Meetings (AGM) as an avenue for student fees. The changes caused turnout to drop at this year’s AGM and started discussions about the future of the yearly meeting.
 
“The discussion that was had and mentioned was that [the AGM] should be a forum for students to come and engage in debate,” Letersky said.
 
Letersky added that the AMS executive’s presentation may have been too lengthy and probably needs to be more engaging.
 
“It is something the new exec is taking very seriously, so they’ll probably have a review of [the AGM] over the next couple months,” Letersky said.
 
AMS recruitment
 
After reviewing the hiring process during the summer, Chinniah said they found that the AMS needs to attract more external applicants. Because the most-cited barrier to external applicants is the proposal component of AMS applications, they’ve removed that requirement for salaried positions. 
 
Chinniah said there has been a 40 per cent increase in executive report applicants, a 60 per cent increase in corporate service applicants and a 20 per cent increase in government manager applicants since amending the application.
 
“We’re getting a more diverse pool in terms of faculty and AMS experience.”
 
The AMS saw several high-profile resignations this year, including the resignations of Vice-President (University Affairs) Catherine Wright in the summer (replaced by Sarah Letersky) and Academic Affairs Commissioner Read Leask (replaced by Tyler Lively). The resignations prompted the AMS to conduct position reviews in December and make changes to its internal structure, including the dissolution of the Commission of Internal Affairs in favour of an AMS Secretariat.
 
JDUC
 
The $1.2-million JDUC revitalization project — funded with money left over from funds raised for the Queen’s Centre project — is well underway.
 
Beaudry told The Journal that the men’s and women’s washrooms have been completed and that the construction of a gender neutral washroom is in progress.
 
The project includes the construction of a new walkway in the JDUC, a new skylight and the refurbishing of Wallace Hall to make it more aesthetically appealing.
 
Beaudry said the AMS has also continued to develop a long-term plan for the JDUC, which would be funded by a student fee gathered after the fact.
 
“The fee would be retroactive, so we’re not paying now for something that will be finished in five to six years,” he said.
 
Final thoughts
 
As they say goodbye to their AMS positions and transition in their replacements, CBL mused about their futures.
 
Letersky said she’ll be completing her final year for her Bachelor’s degree in fall 2016. Beaudry will be starting work at PwC — a multinational professional services firm — in Toronto after the summer, while Chinniah will be taking time off before his next endeavour.
 
Chinniah said he doesn’t want to leave a legacy as a person, but instead lay a foundation for a good future. He said it would be a disservice to students to use the executive role only to create big moments.
 
Beaudry agreed. 
 
“You don’t get those opportunities [to be of service to students] if you’re constantly chasing a big project that you’re not even sure is in the best interests of students, when what’s actually in the best interest of students is to listen to them,” he said.
 
For Letersky, it’s about leaving the AMS in a better place from than when they walked in.
 
“I think we’ll be remembered as the AMS who propelled the society forward and put students at the forefront of the discussion … I think that’s something we’re all happy to be leaving with.”
 
—With files from Maureen O’Reilly

Corrections

March 31, 2016

AMS Vice President (Operations) Kyle Beaudry said a retroactive fee would be used to fund the JDUC long-term plan, not the JDUC revitalization currently underway. The JDUC revitalization project is funded by student fees originally gathered for phases 2 and 3 of the Queen's Centre project. 

The review of barriers to external applicants began in summer, not as a response to resignations later in the year. The fall resignations did, however, prompt the AMS to conduct position reviews and make changes to the organization's structure, including splitting the Commission of Internal Affairs into three separate offices. The section "AMS recruitment" has been edited to remove inaccurate information.

The Journal regrets the error.

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