With a slogan like “listeners before leaders,” it’s clear AMS executive Team AJW is taking meetings.
Presidential candidate Auston Pierce, ArtSci ’19, vice-president (operations) candidate Jessica Dahanayake, Sci ’20, and vice-president (university affairs) candidate William Greene, ArtSci ’19, make up Team AJW—the only team running for AMS executive this year.
The team came together because of the level of student engagement with the AMS, which Pierce called “very low.”
“Three years ago, I would’ve never touched the AMS because I feel disillusioned with it, but I felt that something needed to be done,” Pierce said.
Both Pierce and Greene have student leadership experience external to the AMS. Greene was previously a Gael and a co-president of the politics department student council.
Pierce is currently a co-president of the politics department student council, serves as the Prime Minister to Queen’s Model Parliament, and is a co-chair of the Provincial Advocacy Committee.
Dahanayake was a service staff member of AMS IT services last year, and currently serves as its director.
Because of their limited experience with the AMS, the team has been consulting with multiple groups on campus, from Queen’s Backing Action on Climate Change to ASUS Exchange Buddies.
“We’ve been meeting with basically anybody who is willing to hear us and us willing to hear them,” Pierce said.
Greene told The Journal that, based on the team’s consultations, many students feel like they can’t “openly and freely” talk at AMS assemblies.
“At each assembly, there’s an agenda with various issues to be discussed,” Greene said. “For students listening in the gallery, they feel their voice isn’t as important or isn’t as impactful.”
The team plans—if elected—to hold open office hours for students to drop-in and talk to the executives about any issues they’re dealing with.
“Whether or not there’ll be a direct fix to every student issue that comes to the office hours will be another matter, but we just want to let students know we welcome their voices and we want them to be heard,” Greene said. “We want to have an opportunity for students to go and openly and freely discuss their issues and hold us accountable for our actions as well.”
The team also wants to improve communication between students and the AMS through more efficient marketing and an update to the Society’s website.
Because of her IT experience, Dahanayake believes collaborating with AMS marketing and communications could produce an updated website.
“I think the website could be more updated than it is currently,” she explained. “I think that has a lot to do with the fact that there’s a lack of inter-departmental collaboration.”
“If we collaborated more, then we’d be able to put up all this information that we want to convey to students in a more accessible, easier, [and] efficient way for students.”
When it comes to managing a multi-million-dollar budget, Dahanayake said she’s prepared.
“I know the trends of which services make a profit, which services break even,” she said. “I can use that knowledge—along with my knowledge of the needs of the offices and commissions—to manage this budget.”
The team also plans to improve club resources by providing the necessary tools for them to combat issues that may arise while in operation.
“We have over 200 clubs that represent different groups and special interests that can inform policy and the AMS on how to properly address certain issues,” Greene said. “We basically want to be more supportive of clubs, trying to implement new policies whether it comes to environmental sustainability or representing marginalized groups.”
Citing the newly passed JDUC redevelopment, the team expects to triple the current amount of club spaces available to students. They believe that, by supporting clubs, student engagement will go up.
“Student engagement, it’s a big, big puzzle and there’s a lot of various pieces to that,” Pierce said. “It’s important that people connect to one another. It’s important that people engage.”
Last year, Jessica Dahanayake was a member of the IT service staff, not assistant director at the IT office.
The Journal regrets the error
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