Entrusting students

Five candidates vie for the position of undergraduate student trustee

Candidate for student trustee Lauren Long
Image by: Christine Blais
Candidate for student trustee Lauren Long

With five candidates campaigning for the two-year position of undergraduate student trustee, they all share one common goal: to make the student voice heard on the Board of Trustees.

Traditionally, responsibilities of the Board include making financial decisions, appointing the principal and the vice-principals and overlooking other fiduciary responsibilities.

The Board of Trustees is one of the highest decision making-bodies. It is comprised of 25 members; three are student representatives, the university rector and a graduate and undergraduate representative.

Patrick Allin, ArtSci ’13, said the student trustee must be aware of the University’s financial situation.

“I developed my platform [with the fact that Queen’s] will be cutting $70 million from its budget over the next three years in order to meet its needed goal,” he said, adding that he tried to determine the University’s spending priorities in putting together his platform.

“For the Board of Trustees, which is made up of a number of corporate executives that have been removed from the classroom for many years, these issues aren’t apparent and don’t always come to light,” he said. “So what I will try to do is bring in questions and bring these tough issues to light.”

Allin, who is now the director of the AMS food centre and the chair of the Journal Board, said he’s going to guarantee a 24-hour email return policy so students are able to communicate effectively with him. Furthermore, he wants to meet with each faculty society to hear their concerns.

Lauren Long, ComSci ’13, said students often don’t know what a trustee is or what they do.

“I hope to launch a web site that I can update after every single board meeting so I can engage those issues that are discussed in them,” she said, adding that she plans to hire a web developer using the undergraduate student trustee fund.

The website, which may or may not be independent from the AMS website, will help communicate the on goings of the student trustees with students.

Long, who currently serves as the sustainability coordinator at the Main Campus Residence’s Council said that it’s important the student trustee acts as a liaison between the students and the university’s different governing bodies.

“I would like to increase student involvement with the board. Currently there are only three students, which is 12 per cent of the vote while 43 per cent of Queen’s finances come from student dollars,” she said, adding that she would like to create opportunities in Board of Trustee related committees for students at large to become involved.

Student Centre Officer Stephen Pariser, ArtSci ’11, said the role of the undergraduate trustee is to ensure that the student voice is heard in financial decisions and to offer them a student perspective on such issues.

“For me this position really isn’t about being a stepping stone or about ego,” he said. “It’s about representing the interest of Queen’s students to the Board of Trustees, to ensure that when they go on about doing their operational duties … they think about what Queen’s students want and what they need.”

Pariser said there are five core commitments he plans to make if elected. The ‘TRUST’ commitments are: transparency of information to the students, representing students’ voices on the Board level, understanding the role of the student trustee, supporting clubs, teams and individuals and ensuring togetherness amongst student leaders through cooperation.

To guarantee consistent communication between himself and students, Pariser is proposing a trustee webpage that has not been continued since former undergraduate student trustee Michael Ceci’s first term in 2007-2008, when the AMS server went down and the website ceased to be utilized.

“It is of fundamental importance that there is a website, so we can disseminate information to the students,” he said.

Andrew Witzke, ArtSci ’12 and Comm ’13, said his platform focuses on enhancing student experience and advancing student values.

“It’s important that we find revenue instead of cutting costs, [so we can] provide Queen’s students with the quality of education that they were expecting when they enrolled here … that also means that if cuts need to be made, they don’t leave a huge impact on students,” he said, adding that one way in which the university can find revenue is through investing in businesses that would be able to give profit back to the University.

Witzke, who represents the Commerce society at University Senate, said that if he is elected, he will implement a policy to link him with various other student groups. This would include meeting with all faculty societies and creating a committee where he can sit down with the society presidents and AMS executives prior to every Board of Trustees meeting.

“We can talk about the things that Queen’s is struggling with generally and that how we can use specific committees or specific members of the Board to make sure that the issues our faculties are struggling with are addressed,” he said, adding that this would create a long chain of representation and accountability.

Witzke said he also wants to help faculties find second year co-op opportunities for students of all faculties.

“I want to see if we would be able to get a system where students are encouraged to get into a co-op program. I think it adds value to your degree and it adds to your education,” he said.

Jesse Waslowski, ArtSci ’13, said he would like to create a more personal relationship with students and the faculty societies.

“Groups are important but individuals, actual people, personal relationships are more so,” he said.

Waslowski, an Arts and Science representative to the AMS, sits on both ASUS and AMS assembly.

In his platform, Waslowski advocates the movement towards gender-neutral pronouns in the Queen’s constitution. This would mean that words such as “his or her” would be replaced with ‘the individual’ or ‘the person.’

Waslowski said he hopes to regularly attend different faculty society meetings at least once a month to learn about the different concerns each faculty faces.

“When working with the Board of Trustees, it’s important to recognize that one person represents all the undergraduate students,” he said, adding that that the best way to voice and lobby for student interest at the Board level is to create working relationships with members on the board.

“The student trustee position is one that can influence other bodies, such as the principal and Board of Trustees and that would help in us being able to figure out a proper solution.”

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

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