The AMS is conducting a review of their elections policy and procedures to better protect equity-deserving students.
AMS elections policy was last reviewed in December 2022. An open letter published by the Queen’s Black Clubs Caucus (QBCC) critiquing the AMS’s response to an incident occurring during the AMS executive debate in January prompted the current review process.
“We’re trying to figure out how we can make the policy—or how to develop a new policy—that better protects students, potentially also incorporating their view and their experiences,” Eric Sikich, AMS president, said in an interview with The Journal.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have an idea of what [the policy changes] look like.”
Sikich said the AMS is prepared to change its election policy or to implement new protocols and procedures if it is what is necessary to protect students.
According to Sikich, the QBCC is the primary target for consultations and the AMS is open to suggestions. The AMS has already held consultations with the University Secretariat’s Office and the Human Rights Office.
“The consultations we’ve had as of right now haven’t yielded significant change to the policy, which is why we’re interested in also hoping to meet with student groups before the end of the year to get some more information on what exactly they would like to see changed,” Sikich said.
In their letter, QBCC called out the AMS’s election policy as lacking preventative measures to screen candidates and respond to incidents causing harm. According to the letter, the AMS “prioritized the structure of the election process over Black student safety.”
The current AMS election policy does not include a section on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Indigeneity, and Accessibility (EDIIA). The policy retains the power to remove students from elections by referring to the Student Code of Conduct.
The letter further criticized the AMS’s communication regarding the debate incident and listed four formal requests, including paid consultations with Black students to discuss protocols and tangible resources that can be put in place to protect Black students.
“We’re trying to figure out how we can pay students for the equity work that they are doing during consultations. That’s really the priority right now,” Sikich said.
All consultation plans are tentative as compensation plans need to be brought to the AMS Board of Directors on March 30. Once a plan is approved, Sikich said the consultation timeline will be “relatively short” to make changes before the end of the school year.
“Compensation is a tangible acknowledgement that the AMS sees these consultations as valuable and that they understand the importance of equity-deserving voices and perspectives in shaping their policies,” Amaiya Walters, a representative for QBCC, said in a statement to The Journal.
According to Walters, compensation is only one step the AMS can take towards protecting equity-deserving students.
“The AMS has a long history of white supremacy and racism, and they continue to ignore the needs of students of colour in detrimental ways; the AMS debate incident being a recent example,” she said.
“The elections policy and procedures must undergo a great deal of review and editing [which] must include equity-deserving students’ perspectives. In fact, all AMS policies and procedures need to be reviewed.”
AMS, AMS elections, Elections policy, Policy
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