ASUS election debates revealed two distinct perceptions of the society — that it’s failed and that it’s inspired.
On Jan. 25, executive team candidates took the spotlight first. The three candidate teams took the stage in front of a generous turnout, and students originally studying in the JDUC space turned from their work as the debate went on. Several students would also join from the second floor, looking over the banister.
The three teams in this year’s election are: Jasmine Lagundzija and Stefan Negus; Sam Roe and Emma Redfearn; and Abby Chaudhry and Nick Maida. See more about the candidates here.
“ASUS has failed to work for everyone,” Chaudhry opened, vying for a role as president. ASUS, in his view, had been unsuccessful in maintaining its brand, and only worked for a “privileged few” — a point he would reaffirm several times throughout the debate.
Abby Chaudhry and teammate Nick Maida at the Jan. 25 debate.
“There are two rhetorics really being said here,” Lagundzija countered, also running for president. “There is one that says ASUS is irrelevant. But we truly believe ASUS is an incredible society and we are proud to be a part of it.”
Team Jasmine and Stefan claimed that their experience within ASUS would provide them with a steady foundation to build on. Team Abby and Nick reiterated that their experience provided an internal and external perspective which would better represent the Arts and Science faculty. The two teams debated heavily about the state of ASUS as an inclusive society.
“ASUS is an insider organization that only works for the privileged few,” Chaudhry repeated.
Lagundzija’s rebuttal questioned Team Abby and Nick’s experience. She claimed that Maida, who also had experience on AMS assembly as a rep to the AMS, wasn’t an “external perspective” and therefore they didn’t demonstrate an internal and external voice for Arts and Science students.
In respect to Orientation Week, Lagundzija highlighted the importance of the week for students but also the Kingston community. Team Nick and Abby were quick to rebut stating, “we need to acknowledge the problem that most frosh don’t like the week, they don’t like being talked down to.”
Lagundzija rebutted stating, “just because you don’t see the value in it, doesn’t mean that the 3,000 people involved don’t.” Team Emma and Sam interjected that numbers could not justly endorse the event. “Some students just do it because it’s the only Frosh Week they’ll get,” Roe said.
Team Sam and Emma (left) and Team Jasmine and Stefan (right) at the debate.
Team Sam and Emma as well as Nick and Abby claimed that their views were product of speaking to first year students and getting their feedback on Orientation Week.
“I think the real problem is when students say that being a Gael was better than being a Frosh,” Chaudhry said. He later directly addressed Team Sam and Emma in his rebuttal. “I know the team to my left have acknowledged the problem,” he said.
The issue of finances within ASUS was also debated upon. “I’ve had the privilege of seeing past budgets and the biggest threat to ASUS that I see is the camps,” Maida said. “Every other aspect of ASUS brings at least some sort of a surplus.”
Team Nick and Abby would later propose the possibility of disbanding camps to relieve finances for other projects supporting students within the society.
Team Sam and Emma stated they felt the largest threat to ASUS’ budget was the implementation of “pet projects.” “We think these projects draw away funds that could be focused on bigger projects that better reflect the needs of the society,” Redfearn said.
Negus agreed with Maida, providing that his team also believed camps were the biggest financial threat to the society. He added, “our team has a plan to ensure the longevity of these camps and make sure they are working for the Queen’s and Kingston community.”
The Senator debates followed. Candidates Craig Draeger, Rachel Tung, Ethan Peters and Bennett Penner were asked questions concerning what they felt the biggest academic concerns with the school were, Indigenous students on campus and Fall Term Break. Dreager, running for Senator on a two-term was running uncontested, while the other three looked to fill the two, one-year term positions.
ASUS Senator candidates Craig Draeger and Rachel Tung.
When asked about what academic concerns the student population is facing, Peters felt that the campus environment needed revival. He directed his attention towards ensuring that the environment around students is clean so that students feel motivated and comfortable. “These things go hand in hand,” Peters said.
The question of a Fall Term Break was introduced to the candidates next. Candidates Penner and Tung affirmed that Orientation Week is an important aspect of Queen’s traditions and shouldn’t be sacrificed in the process of obtaining the break. Dreager, although he didn’t rebutt their views stated, “I don’t have any strong preferences, but I think it’s important for us to not only recognize the interests of our faculties, but of those of the broader school community.”
No rebuttals were exercised during the Senator debate. On the topic of Indigenous issues on campus, all the candidates proposed that discussion be further facilitated.
“It starts with mutual respect,” Dreager said. Penner later added that the issue of diversity on campus was one that specifically stood out to him because of his involvement in Musical Theatre at Queen’s, referencing the Othello incident that occurred earlier this school year.
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