AMS President Eric Sikich, Vice President (Operations) Tina Hu, and Vice President (University Affairs) Callum Robertson sat down with The Journal to recount their progress from the fall semester and to discuss new initiatives.
In their original platform, team ETC’s key points included working with the Secretariat to re-energize AMS Elections and Assembly, ensure budgets and important meetings with faculty are easily accessible to students, and advocating at the provincial government on sexual violence and response.
“We’re looking at how we can make the budget more accessible to students and how we can simplify that down a little bit, but also provide students with information on where funding is going and how that funding has been utilized,” Sikich said in an interview with The Journal.
ETC continued by outlining their four platform pillars in regard to the fall semester.
Transparency and Communication
Hu and Robertson commented on transparency regarding school-wide issues, such as sexual violence and housing.
“We are there advocating for the needs of students in sparking those conversations with university stakeholders,” Hu added.
Robertson said a good example of their advocacy was the Orientation Summit held in October, which, according to him, was separated from the University.
Events like the Orientation Summit are designed to create a safe space for student leaders to converse, Robertson said. He said this highlights the AMS’s commitment to transparency in organizing student initiatives.
“What we were very clear on is keeping the University out of our discussions and only having one representative from the Student Experience Office,” he said.
When talking about transparency and being open, putting the student voice first is crucial, Robertson said.
Ensuring the upcoming election is advertised and accessible to students interested in executive and other government positions is also important to ETC.
“We’re concerned overall because we’ve seen that there have been uncontested elections in the past, and we don’t really want that to be the case,” Sikich said.
Sikich said he’d love to have a contested election and hopes to accomplish this through marketing to the student body.
A few marketing strategies the AMS is looking into conducting to ensure students are really engaged include class talks, promotions, and continuing with the ‘AMS Asks U’ series.
Sikich sits on around six Senate subcommittees and Senate directly, and said they have a good relationship. His role on the Senate includes looking at policies and reviewing the governance bodies.
“[Senate is] actually where we see a lot of tangible work being done,” he said.
The Board of Trustees is not where the “brunt” of student issues is addressed—despite being “fantastic” for some issues, Sikich said.
The AMS is working with the AMS HR office to create a more unified process for employment standards, which students can access through the AMS website, according to Sikich.
ETC would like to hear more feedback from students regarding policies that are not yet addressed. If students want to hear more about procedures or employment policies with the AMS, Sikich said the team will create awareness.
“We haven’t necessarily heard too much about students asking for [clarity],” he said.
By collaborating with different faculty societies, Hu said ETC is using their resources and “cross pollinating” with different services.
Sikich added the AMS is working on a Queer Prom and an equity townhall for the Social Issues Commissioners External, Dreyden George, and Internal, Chloe Umengan.
AMS Services, student groups, and faculty societies are working together to garner more awareness for events. According to Hu, Relay for Life and Queen’s Players are working with Tricolour Outlet. The Engineering Society and Vogue Charity Fashion Show are working with Common Ground for Movember.
Student Engagement and Trust
Sikich spoke about Orientation Week and the AMS’s efforts in encouraging student participation.
“We weren’t aware of what we were expecting [in regard to in-person Orientation], but when it comes to the AMS in particular, we were able to harness a lot of student awareness of what the AMS was,” he said.
Sikich stated the AMS was able to gain student awareness due to their visibility on campus, such as Tricolour Outlet being right in the ARC.
The AMS also held a Tricolour Outlet open house, held a club’s fair in the ARC, were at the September Sidewalk Sale, and were present at ASUS Queen’s in the Park.
“I would say we did capitalize off the return to campus of students being interested in the AMS.”
Sikich also commented on the fall referendum having a turnout rate of 11.4 per cent, marking a 1.9 per cent increase in voter turnout from the 2021 AMS Fall Referendum.
“The fact we went up a few percentages in this referendum is indicative that we did actually catch a bit more of the student population,” he said.
Sikich went on to say he’s very pleased with the way the fall referendum turned out, but the AMS can continue to improve on engaging students in voting.
“We can look at the marketing that we’re going to be doing in January. We’ll probably be looking at doing some videos about voting again to get the message out to students.”
The AMS released a statement on the situation in Iran but with the issue continuing, there’s still a lot of work to do, Robertson said.
Robertson also said ETC met with Queen’s Hillel to discuss antisemitism on campus and is looking to broaden that relationship.
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