MTW’s sincerity surpasses JBP’s preparation

Our process: The Journal Editorial Board’s votes took into consideration interviews, debates, platforms and a private questioning period with the teams. The endorsement is the result of a straight vote by the Editorial Board. 

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You can practice and memorize how to answer a set of common questions, but sincerity and honesty are a lot harder to learn. 

The Journal Editorial Board voted to endorse Team MTW for the 2017-18 AMS executive, with a 14-3 vote and two abstentions. 

Team JBP exudes preparation. They’ve done their homework and they know what they’re talking about — when asked common questions about racism on campus or mental health, they have answers ready.

But Team MTW exudes genuineness. 

During their meeting with The Journal, when answering a question about whether their focus on personal experience would inhibit their ability to keep emotion out of governance, presidential candidate Aniqah Mair, CompSci ’18, began by explaining that their experiences don’t encompass all 16,000 students’ experiences — but quickly corrected herself from ‘students’ to ‘peers’. 

The moment exemplified what Team MTW stands for — they don’t have everything figured out, but for the Editorial Board, their willingness to sit down as equals and have a frank discussion about how to move forward stretches beyond Team JBP’s confidence in their preparedness. 

Team JBP often listed action-oriented platform points in response to commonly asked questions — a characteristic their opponents lacked and need to work on.

Jennifer Li, ConEd ’17, JBP’s presidential candidate, is assertive and sure of her answers to big questions in a way that Mair isn’t. But Mair gives off an impression of frankness and straight-forwardness that makes her seem, to the Editorial Board, a better candidate for president. 

While Li’s experience as undergraduate student trustee is undoubtedly an asset, Mair’s casual demeanor shouldn’t downplay her experience. As current COMPSA President, she lobbied tirelessly for a new hire in the Computing faculty — making an impact that will last beyond her one-year term. 

When it came to unscripted questions, Team JBP’s confidence wasn’t as apparent. When asked difficult questions about their team’s formation, they skirted them. While it’s fair to assume they were caught off guard, their inability to respond directly hinted at a reluctance to hold themselves accountable even though they’d pledged transparency moments earlier. 

On the other hand, MTW was open about explaining their reasons for forming, even admitting that their lack of surety, their biggest weakness, was the result of forming late in the game. Each member of the team stressed that they don’t know all the answers — if elected, they’d work to ensure the answers are discussed and found collectively. 

When discussing arguably the most relevant topic at Queen’s recently — the racially-charged incidents of fall semester — Team JBP didn’t disappoint. They were practical in their approach, whittling the issue down to a set of tangible movements, such as establishing a timeline for implementing equity recommendations and enhancing equitable hiring practices within the AMS. 

Team MTW, however, had a sincerer approach. They prioritized the voices of students of colour above a set of talking points. They also recognized their inability to reduce such a complex issue into something that didn’t do it justice, while Landon Wilcock, ArtSci ’18, the Vice President (Operations) candidate was prompt in acknowledging his own privilege as a white male student on campus. 

When asked how they would promote anti-racism on campus, Mair was blunt — they wouldn’t be setting out to “decolonize the University in a year.” Instead, if elected, MTW would focus on consulting with those most impacted by campus racism instead of on “airy platitudes.” The Journal Editorial Board noted the significance of this kind of honesty in such a sensitive and divisive issue. 

JBP have what it takes to represent students and make decisions. Brian McKay, ArtSci’ 17, Vice President (Operations)candidate for Team JBP, has a visible passion for feasible solutions to student issues — so much so that he was the only candidate who was cut off because he consistently had something to say. 

Wilcock has the same passion, but fell short on the clarity front. In discussing the concrete details of AMS services — which would fall under his purview if he is elected — he spoke in vague and unspecific terms, unlike McKay.

Team MTW doesn’t give off the same impression of professionalism and experience. But while consultations can be done and professionalism learned, the members of MTW have a unique perspective that can’t be taught. And they’ll have the time and resources to learn. 

Team JBP’s extensive and punctually-released platform is an asset they have over Team MTW, who, at the time of their meeting with The Journal, hadn’t yet released their official platform. 

JBP’s platform points were rooted in administrative change. To support campus sustainability efforts, they plan to implement a carbon audit that would evaluate the carbon output for each individual AMS service. They also hope to establish an online booking system for counseling services to expedite the intimidating process of seeking mental health support.

Team MTW’s platform is much less set in stone, mainly because they stressed the significance of openness and continuous consultation while implementing change. They shared their plan to create an ‘inclusion week’, a time for open dialogue about race issues and diversity at Queen’s. 

Rather than work to change appointment booking, they said they want to expand the amount of space available to the Peer Support Centre or Student Wellness Services.

JBP’s platform is a lot more straightforward, but while MTW lacks the same tangible points, its vagueness may not come from being unqualified but from recognizing that some of these issues really aren’t that simple. We have to take them at their word that they have concrete steps towards accomplishing their goals but that might be a worthwhile risk. 

In the face of issues like Queen’s culture of whiteness, MTW’s uncalculated and self-reflexive terms — when accompanied by their willingness to listen and learn — are a way to avoid undermining their complexity.  

JBP, if elected, will fit neatly into the picture of AMS administration and there’s no doubt that they would competently and admirably fulfill their duties and responsibilities. But that is all. 

MTW, if elected, may bring the freshness and shift in mindset that students need.

In the days following up to the election, MTW could benefit from working on their preparation and fine-tuning their confidence. It takes some digging beneath the surface to find the air of cohesiveness and sureness that JBP convey right off the bat. 

At the end of the day, The Journal Editorial Board believes MTW’s values of sincerity and honesty can carry them farther than JBP, without leaving anyone behind.

— Journal Editorial Board

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