AMS Executive accused of censoring student voices regarding Bikes & Boards closure

University District

First AMS Assembly of the year ratifies new AMS Vice-President (Operations)

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The first AMS Assembly of the 2017-18 school year began on Thursday with criticism against the AMS executive for their response to the closure of Bikes and Boards and continued with ratifying Vice-President (Operations) Chelsea Hollidge, who replaced Brian McKay following his resignation last month.

CESA President comments on Bikes and Boards closure 

Liam Dowling, President of the Concurrent Education Students’ Association, extended his condolences in front of assembly to the Head Manager of Bikes and Boards and her team. He continued by expressing his discontent with the closure of the service by the AMS executive.

In August, Bikes and Boards was closed as a retail service following a projected deficit of over $40,000 for the 2017-18 school year. The decision resulted in the termination of six student employees and their volunteers, with the AMS facing significant student backlash.

Dowling began by highlighting actions he believed were taken by the AMS to censor criticism over the service’s closure this summer.

“I was informed that the AMS was deleting Facebook comments on the press release, as well as the executive went and sent an email to staff informing them that it was inappropriate to comment publically about the decision,” Dowling said. “It soon escalated with the AMS considering terminating students who had publically criticized the decision, and then try to have students sign documents that would prevent them from publically criticizing the decision.” 

When asked by The Journal to comment further on his statements, Dowling said he had adequately stated his concerns at assembly. No further comment was provided.

AMS President Jennifer Li defended her team by stating that no comments were “removed” from social media and that the AMS had a “sit-down” conversation with each member of the Bikes and Boards team to ensure all their concerns were addressed.

“[Students] should direct their concerns to us so we can direct them to factual information and not gossip and rumours on social media,” Li concluded.

Dowling posed no response but reiterated his concern with the AMS stating, “if students can’t publicly criticize the decisions of the AMS, [they] should really reconsider calling themselves a student government.”

Ratification of new AMS Vice-President

After Brian MacKay, former Vice President (Operations) announced his resignation from the executive office for personal reasons, Chelsea Hollidge was selected as his replacement and was officially ratified at assembly this Thursday.

President Li spoke to assembly before ratification, vocalizing her support for Hollidge.

“Palmer and I took the time to consult with all of the AMS staff as well as the Board of Directors to make sure whoever we appointed wasn’t just someone Palmer and I could work with, but somebody that the group could work with,” Li said. “We have every confidence in Chelsea’s ability to continue with us for the rest of the year.”

Other ratifications

Miguel Martinez-Torres was ratified as the Speaker of Assembly, and Julianna Jeans was appointed Deputy Speaker.

Martinez-Torres’s ratification comes five months after formerly-appointed Speaker Alexander Prescott resigned following backlash from the student body. Students became concerned when comments posted on social media by Prescott in 2013 resurfaced, which expressed controversial views on sexual violence. 

Incoming Chief Electoral Officer, Matt Ierino, was also ratified alongside Marnie Myszko, the Director of Clubs for the 2017-18 school year. 

Yung to serve final year as Rector

Rector Cam Yung announced he wouldn’t be completing his third year as Rector, which would have taken place in the 2018-19 school year. Yung noted he is currently working with the AMS and SGPS to position Rector elections for the winter semester.

“It’s been an absolute honour to serve all of you, I look forward to serving you for one more year,” Yung said.

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