Four months into their term, the AMS executive has put the wheels in motion for most of the initiatives outlined in their election platform.
The team’s vision, which was developed in February with Eril Berkok, Thomas Pritchard and Peter Green running as Team BGP, has yet to shift since the induction of Nicola Plummer as vice-president of operations in March, the team said.
Plummer, who ran alongside the opposing Team TNL, was inducted into the role of vice-president by AMS Assembly following the resignation of Green in February.
“It’s not as much that she came into the role, it’s that we all came into the role and we said we’d rather do it this way,” Pritchard said. “The core ideas and values have never changed.”
The team admitted that some of the big-budget items listed in their 55-page platform won’t come to fruition until much later than anticipated. This includes the ambitious blue light and Queen’s WiFi expansion projects into the areas around campus.
Other initiatives, such as the revitalization of the AMS Health and Dental Plan and LGBTQ Thursdays at The Underground, have proved too unrealistic to be fulfilled as originally planned.
Despite this, the team has undertaken several projects unlisted in the document, including several corporate service revamps overseen by Plummer, as well as appealing the City of Kingston’s decision to exclude students in the population tally for the Ontario Municipal Board.
The Journal reviewed the team’s progress since their term began on May 1, based on their platform.
Blue light expansion
The AMS executive originally planned to expand blue lights through City and Victoria Parks in the summer. Work on the project has been halted, however, to arrange meetings with Kingston Police Chief Gilles Larochelle.
Larochelle began his term as chief in July, making arrangements to carry through with the summer portion of the expansion difficult, Pritchard said.
“It was a wee bit ambitious,” he said.
Pritchard added that a meeting date hasn’t yet been confirmed, but the team has consulted with members from Kingston General Hospital and City Council, Campus Security and Queen’s Student Affairs, who have shown support for the project.
An official proposal has been completed, which has yet to be put forward to Kingston Police
Revitalizing the AMS Health and Dental Plan
With the original intention of launching a marketing survey to tailor the plan according to popular demand, the team said any changes to preexisting coverage are unlikely due a projected increase in student cost.
“We do have an amazing deal with them right now. It’s hard to imagine how it could be better just because of the value we’re getting,” Plummer said. “There isn’t a whole lot because of the low cost we have as students and any fiddling around we do will drive up the price.”
Plummer added the AMS has initiated a communications plan to better inform students of their coverage options, including sending promotional material and emails to students.
Mental Health Advisory Board
Policy for the proposed advisory board was passed at AMS Assembly last spring, Pritchard said, and board members will be appointed at AMS Assembly in late September.
Pritchard said the team has also put forward an official request for services from Frontenac Community Mental Health and Addiction Services to host two monthly support groups for addiction, anxiety and depression, as part of their platform.
“I’m simply just waiting back from administrative approval from them for that proposal,” Pritchard said. “I’m hoping we can get it rolled out in the fall. I just need the approval from them.”
Division and Union St. crosswalk
Plans for the crosswalk, geared to provide greater accessibility and safety across Union St., haven’t yet been confirmed by the University or the City.
“It’s a little confusing in terms of when something is part of the University and part of the city, but I would hazard a guess at this point kind of where we are in the talks is that the University will be taking it to City Council and we would be supporting it,” Pritchard said.
JDUC revitalization fund
Plummer said the team plans to hire a consultant later this fall who will provide a list of options as to how the team will spend the $1.2 million allocated to specifically revitalizing the JDUC.
“We don’t want to do anything that is categorized as deferred maintenance,” Plummer said, “but we do want to do something that will revitalize the building and bring people back in.”
Plummer said the AMS hopes to deliver a marketing survey to garner student input on the project, based on “solidified and feasible” options determined by the consultant. However, she said a survey could divide student opinion and make the project more difficult to complete.
“We want to give ourselves enough time to give them a survey before they leave for the summer,” she said.
The Upper Crust
Intended to increase foot traffic on the second floor of the JDUC, Plummer said the team has scrapped initial plans to revamp the former Common Ground Express location into a soup and grilled cheese outlet.
Rather, Plummer announced the launch of “The Brew” on Wednesday — a rebranded satellite location still run under the Common Ground’s management team — that will provide increase seating and soup options for students.
“We don’t want to cannibalize our own service at QP,” Plummer said. “Even though the product offering was different, the idea was the same of having substantial hearty food.”
Grilled cheese will be offered at QP, she said, adding that The Brew will accept debit and credit, in hopes of bringing in more customers.
The initiative, which aims to collect course syllabi and make them available to students prior to the school year, is set to be launched by the end of the year, Pritchard said.
The project, spearheaded by academic affairs commissioner Allison Williams, is currently in the design process with AMS IT services and will include a scholarship and assignment calculator.
“At what point [it is to be released] it wouldn’t really matter because syllabi don’t come out until June, which is something we could have no effect on,” Pritchard said.
It will also feature USAT evaluations, notices of professors who have won awards and other important information.
Plummer said hosting a monthly LGBTQ night on Thursday is unrealistic, given the recent rebranding of Alfie’s as The Underground.
Plummer said she consulted with the AMS Hospitality and Safety Services Director, and TAPS management team, before deciding to discard the proposed weekly occasion.
Rather, Plummer said TAPS will host a “Pride Night” once a semester — in October and March — to match-up with pride-related occasions, such as the annual International Day Against Homophobia and Queen’s Pride Week, which is organized by Queen’s Pride Committee.
The events will also feature an on-campus charity or organization, making it appear less exclusive to non-LGBTQ students, Plummer said.
“We wanted to start small with that given how it’s incredibly difficult to introduce new nights to The Underground — especially because we only operate on Wednesday and Friday.
If we’re opening a whole other night it poses financial issues,” Plummer said.
Plummer added that the event could take place more frequently in the future, depending on its reception.
Queen’s WiFi expansion
Berkok said the team has “explored proposals throughout the summer months,” but have yet to confirm whether the project will take off during their term.
“Of course IT is swamped with things and of course the process is moving but we don’t have a lot of concrete stuff to talk about,” he said, adding the team is looking into upgrading on-campus Wi-Fi as an alternative goal for the term.
“There are a lot of parties involved,” Berkok said. “It’s very unpredictable to say, but it’s more of a longer-term project.”
AMS Arts Council
The AMS Campus Activities Commission revamped its arts portfolio in the summer to reflect the creation of an Arts Council, Pritchard confirmed.
The council was proposed as a means to promote resource sharing and project collaboration for arts groups on campus.
The commission has set aside part of its budget for an operations grant for the council, which is set to come to form next month, Pritchard said.
“Really now everyone is on board,” he said. “It’s just the nitty-gritty policy that’s going to be happening until then.”
The AMS executive put forward an appeal alongside the SGPS, St. Lawrence College Students Association and the Queen’s University Faculty Association contesting the City of Kingston’s decision to exclude students from the City’s population tally, and dissolve Sydenham District as an electoral district.
The decision would decrease student representation at the municipal level, the team said, and the appeal was filed in June.
The Sydenham District Association and Queen’s law student Kevin Wiener also put forward similar appeals.
On Monday, the team attended a pre-hearing which set a hearing date for Oct. 21. It will last for five days and will include presentations from the general public.
“We’ve been kind of just working [finding] other parties who will financially contribute as well,” Pritchard said.
“It’s an extensive financial deal with everything involved.”
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