AMS approves ORT budget after discussion at final Assembly

Questions around Coca Cola grant and ratifications take place

Image by: Curtis Heinzl
Tina Hu

The final AMS Assembly of 2022 convened Dec. 1 in Mitchell Hall immediately following the Corporate General Meeting.

At Assembly, members spoke about topics ranging from Coca Cola divestment, the ORT budget, to the upcoming campus wide and faculty society elections in January. 

Executive and other reports

AMS President Eric Sikich submitted a verbal report via proxy at assembly.

In the report, he outlined working with AMS offices to celebrate the AMS’s 165th birthday. Sikich mentioned the Student Life Centre (SLC) was continuing normal operations, and that drilling at the JDUC would be minimized during exam season.

Sikich outlined work being done to create a student legal aid program, with details to come in future assemblies. He said a hiring fair is being planned for the next hiring period. 

Vice-President (Operations) Tina Hu noted she is working on the annual student fee external audit and has been working with service head managers to identify any discrepancies. 

Queen’s Student Constables is undergoing a rebrand, with new uniforms to be seen soon, according to Hu. She added the Chief Constable is looking to engage with the student body to increase hiring engagement with the service. 

External Affairs Commissioner Sahiba Gulati is currently working on external advocacy work, while the new AMS Social Issues Commissioner (External) is being on-boarded, according to Callum Robertson, vice-president (university affairs). 

Robertson said the Orientation Summit was recently held to discussing the future direction of Orientation. Consequent recommendations will be released in the future, with discussion following with the University. 

Rector Owen Crawford-Lem said he requested to sit on the Board of Trustees investment committee, a committee the Rector usually doesn’t sit on. He said he is looking to bring a student perspective, and the committee is currently working on releasing a responsible investing report to students and the community. 

Continuing with his work on the issue of housing, Crawford-Lem gave interim updates on the housing survey, which is still open.

The Rector report submitted to the Dec. 9 Queen’s Board of Trustees meeting highlighted preliminary gender-based differences in monthly rent and the role of financial aid receipt in housing. 

Ratifications and Social Issues Commissioners

Both Chloë Umengan, social issues commissioner (internal) and Dreyden George, social issues commissioner (external), were ratified as AMS commissioners. They were asked about planned initiatives.

George said they were working with the Queers 4 Peers manager, while being transitioned by Samara Lijiam, social issues commissioner during previous AMS executive RTZ’s tenure. 

Umengan and George’s ratification fills the vacancy created after the AMS terminated the original Social Issues Commissioner.

Tiffany Wu was elected speaker of the AMS Assembly towards the end of the meeting. She currently works as the Housing Resource Manager and was formerly the NEWTS orientation head.

ORT budget

Robertson introduced the ORT (Orientation Roundtable) budget after he discussed the Orientation Summit. 2022 Orientation cost $133,548, resulting in a deficit of $25,512. 2023 Orientation is budgeted to cost $552,070.

He said the budget was supposed to be passed in the summer before 2022 Orientation events happened. 

“I don’t think anybody really realized before […] Technically, what we’re doing right now, is passing the budget for next year’s orientation. Which is something that I don’t think anybody really realized was supposed to happen,” Robertson said at Assembly. 

Assembly members had questions about budget specifics, and the procedural integrity behind the ORT budget approval process. 

First, ASUS President Yara Hussein asked a question about the Coca Cola grant in line 15 of the budget. Previously, under the tenure of RTZ, the AMS took a stance against Coca Cola’s contract with Queen’s—citing a need to move towards ethical business and sustainability. 

In the 2020 and 2022 ORT budget actuals, there was no Coca Cola grant revenue, while it was budgeted for in 2023. 

“This is the final year of the ten-year Coke contract […] The grant is part of essentially a set of benefits that comes from Queen’s University signing the cold beverage contract with Coke,” Hu said in response to Hussein’s question. 

“We’re looking to see what other companies are available to do the cold beverages on campus. It all depends on what company comes in and what benefits they are offering.”

The budget document circulated to members in the meeting minutes included figures for 2022’s Orientation and the budget for the upcoming 2023 Orientation. 

Robertson earlier said the approval was for the 2023 budget, in response to a question about ORT wages and salaries by Emma Farrell, ASUS vice-president (society affairs). Robertson later said Assembly members were looking at the funds spent in 2022 under the 2023 budget. 

“I should clarify that this budget is still the one that you guys have seen all along, even though it’s next year’s budget […] I’m saying it’s 2023 but it’s 2022 at the same time,” Robertson said. 

He said the discrepancy around salaries and wages for ORT staff came from the initial budgeting process and the switch to have ORT staff compensated on an hourly waged basis. 

CESA President Zachary Galvani further clarified Farrell’s earlier question asking about the discrepancy in wages over the two years. To this question, Robertson re-affirmed his earlier point that all six members of ORT are paid. 

Robertson clarified that by Assembly voting to approve the motion, they were in effect voting to approve money which was already spent for the class of ’26 orientation. 

Engineering Society (EngSoc) President Danielle Rivard and PHEKSA President Ryan Chen both asked questions about the reasoning for Assembly granting approval on money already spent. They said they were concerned about the precedent this would set. 

COMPSA President Jagrit Rai said it would be required to vote to approve the budget for the sake of student dollars, but it’s necessary to look at the way policies and protocols work around spending allocations.

The motion to approve the ORT budget, amended, passed. Some faculty society members did not vote in favour. 

Other business 

Assembly approved changes to the ORT equity grant policy. The grant exists to support Queen’s faculties to ensure financial barriers around equity related events are mitigated in the planning of Orientation.

The policy determined the make-up of committees, the timeline for grant application, and the consideration and selection criteria.

Assembly finally discussed the dates of Assembly for the 2023-24 year, taking into consideration religious holidays. This was followed by a discussion on ways to best market elections for engagement in the upcoming year. 


AMS, Assembly, Budget, Coca-Cola, Divestment, ETC, ORT, Rector

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