AMS Assembly gathered Thursday evening in Beamish Munro Hall to discuss student operations in the aftermath of the AMS Executive election.
In his President’s report, Eric Sikich recognized the call for the AMS to think better about how students can be protected from racism on campus—specifically reviewing how elections policy can best serve students.
In other matters, Mariah Keeling, Kenzie Dent, Massimo Recupero, Nathaniel Dixon, Maria Wassef, and Mikayla Crawford were all ratified to the Orientation Roundtable ORT.
Team ETC congratulated Team KMV on their victory as incoming AMS executive.
“The office of the Secretariat has additionally been working heavily on elections over the past month,” Sikich said. “The administration of faculty society elections to collaborate in the marketing and facilitating the debate are all factors that have taken a significant amount of time.”
Vice-President (Operations) Tina Hu said the AMS and SGPS fees for the AMS Food Bank were passed at winter referendum, which she said will help with food security on campus.
Vice-President (University Affairs) Callum Robertson reminded Assembly Queen’s will be hosting the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) for their General Assembly on March 2.
“[I’m] looking forward to having these students on campus. It’s going to be a really great opportunity for a lot of our teams and a lot of their teams to collaborate but discuss policy and advocacy for the next few years,” he said.
Assembly hopes to bring policy papers to OUSA General Assembly to learn more about teaching assessments at other Ontario universities.
Black Student Club Caucus
In the aftermath of the AMS executive election, students from the Black Student Club Caucus attended Assembly to advocate against anti-Black racism.
“I want to listen to you guys tell us you tried your best, but you didn’t try your best,” a Black Student Caucus member said at Assembly. “That wasn’t your best and if that’s what you call your best, there’s a whole lot of work that needs to be done.”
Sikich said they decided to bring forward their elections process to a variety of bodies for review, including, but not limited to Assembly, the AMS Board of Directors, and the Office of the University Secretariat, who they’ve already consulted.
Amaiya Walters, ArtSci ’23 and incoming Arts and Science Undergraduate Society (ASUS) President, provided a statement on behalf of the group.
“Every single person in this room—and honestly, at least Assembly—has the responsibility to represent the diversity of students. That means you should know what the Black community is feeling,” Walters said.
Walters said the AMS debate incident has been one of the most upsetting events in the community over the last few years and had issues with the lack of response from student government and the AMS specifically.
Walters directly asked the executive team why they didn’t take immediate action at the debate when the incident occurred.
“Based on the timeline we presented, we weren’t aware this accusation was in fact, real,” Sikich said. “We don’t obviously have the answers to everything […] I think that after the whole situation, we looked internally at what we could best do in terms of what was within our policies.”
According to Sikich, it’s a multifaceted situation that needs to be addressed in a multitude of ways.
“I think it stems from hiring practices, but it looks at policies and determining whether we have the appropriate policies in place.”
Members of the caucus wondered why the AMS didn’t consult them immediately after the incident.
“[Not] consulting with Black clubs, like yourselves, is a critical error we’ve made so far, and that is what has been addressed to us in your open letter,” Robertson said.
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Another concern brought to the executive’s attention was Black students receiving compensation for consulting with the AMS on raising awareness on anti-Black racism.
“We need to discuss it as executives and with our wider senior management team in terms of budgetary grounds—that is a conversation we need to have,” Robertson said.
Hu thanked the group for the time and offered support on campus such as the Peer Support Centre and BIPOC Talk.
Assembly discussed the StuCon service in depth. Vice-President (Operations) of the Engineering Society Evan Wray said there seems to be a surplus of money every year that isn’t being utilized to run events for students.
Hu said StuCons receive a $12.83 student activity fee. Last year, a portion of that fee was rebated to students, according to Hu, because the fee wasn’t used in its entirety for the service.
“Just because of the actions of your predecessors and how they determine what the value of that dollar amount of students was, how are you going to make sure that it’s the maximum extra money for servicing?” Wray asked in response.
Since the executive receives financial statements for all the services they work with, Hu said there’s a top line of revenue, which is student activity fees, and then you have your bottom line.
“Then that surplus or deficit can be appropriately rebated back to students,” Hu said.
Another topic of discussion brought up by Sahiba Gulati, commissioner of external affairs, was the debate on whether the AMS executives should be required to run as a slate.
HSS President Haleigh Schreyer said giving candidates the chance to run as individuals could promote diversity in candidates, noting only one out of the nine candidates this year was not an ASUS member.
“Running as individuals would have let members [from team ERA] continue running and not have hindered all the work they had put into the election,” Schreyer said.
On the opposite end, Secretary of Internal Affairs Amir-Ali Golrokhian-Sani is in favour of slates because, according to him, they reduce the chances of internal conflict. He noted all high-level politics see candidates run in teams, not individuals.
Sikich said the AMS will strike a subcommittee to create a recommendation on running in a slate for AMS executive discussion before March Assembly.
AMS, AMS Assembly, anti-racism, Black clubs caucus, ETC
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