Health Science Society sees contested and uncontested races

Candidates discuss AMS membership opt-in for online students

Image by: Anne Fu
The candidates spoke about their platforms.

This year’s Health Sciences Society (HSS) executive elections will feature only one contested race for the position of vice-president (university affairs) (VPUA), between David Walji, HealthSci ’25, and Claire Lipton, HealthSci ’25. 

Sara Pollanen, HealthSci ‘25, and Roan Haggerty-Goede, HealthSci ‘25, are running unopposed for the roles of president and vice-president (operations) (VPOPS), respectively. The election is happening on Feb. 8 and 9.


Pollanen, who’s spent the last two years in HSS as the year representative for the class of 2025, is running for HSS President on a campaign focused on sustainability, equity, and opportunity. 

Implementing a new Sustainability Commissioner role on HSS Council to address issues of environmental sustainability is a goal for Pollanen, along with bursaries to fund eco-friendly student-led initiatives and sustainability audits for Society events. 

“As President of the Queen’s Conference on Ocean Sustainability, I’ve always [taken] a need towards sustainability, and I feel like during our climate crisis, we need more opportunities for students to engage and advocate for sustainability,” Pollanen told The Journal.

She also promises to advocate for online students to be able to opt-in to the AMS health and dental plan, a service many online Health Sciences students are currently ineligible for. 

According to Pollanen, the AMS has told the HSS it would take multiple years to implement such a plan. Pollanen intends to collaborate with online students from other faculties, such as Arts and Science, to guarantee them health and dental insurance access too.

“Now that the HSS is AMS ratified and we have that platform to speak and advocate for students, I hope to act as a liaison between students of Health Sciences, the [faculty], and the AMS,” she said.

Pollanen’s final campaign goal involves supporting HSS members by providing them with professional development opportunities, “starter” bursaries for new HSS-ratified clubs, and bursaries for individual student-run events.

Vice-president (university affairs)

Walji and Lipton are the two candidates in the HSS’s only contested election this year for VPUA.

Walji’s top five priorities are listening and communicating with students, improving accessibility to career preparatory services, encouraging healthy living, enhancing faculty culture, and ensuring transparency in Society operations.

His concerns primarily lie with increasing student engagement with the HSS and establishing traditions for the fledgling faculty, which will see its first class of four-year graduates this term. 

“You look at a lot of the other programs here at Queen’s, and they have a lot of very good frameworks and groundworks done for a lot of these traditions. Health Sci doesn’t really have that legacy, so I’m trying to look into building that legacy,” Walji said to The Journal.

Walji is looking forward to organizing physical wellness activities for students to get them active and proposed increasing long and short-term access to mental health resources. He hopes to send out bimonthly surveys to get students’ feedback on issues ranging from EDII to mental health to orientation experiences.

Walji said he would continue to advocate the AMS to expand membership and health insurance access to online students.

“I think that, honestly, making friends with people in the AMS and continuing to talk in order to enact change is probably the best way to go about that,” he said.

Lipton’s main goals for her VPUA platform involve connecting and supporting Health Sciences students by nurturing bonds between the online, on-campus, and Bader College Health Sciences students, connecting students between cohorts, and serving as an advocate for student interests to the faculty. 

Running social events that encourage students to meet each other, establishing a casual mentorship program for younger students, and enhancing professional development resources are key parts of her plan. 

Lipton intends to encourage greater communication and open dialogues between students and faculty in courses they are dissatisfied with. 

“I think a lot of students don’t know how to raise these complaints, so that’s where you get lots of murmurs and frustration in the student body that doesn’t end up getting through the right channels,” she told The Journal.

“I think it’s something that the HSS has to work on in terms of making these channels more available.” 

Growing the size and scope of the HSS are important to Lipton, who hopes to make assembly meetings more accessible and attractive to students, as well as make the faculty society a consistent presence at AMS Assembly.

She, too, is concerned with online students’ inability to access health and dental insurance through the AMS.

“Right now, our online students are not being treated fairly because they don’t have access to health care,” she said. “So it [means] putting pressure on the AMS, showing up to assemblies, demanding meetings, and making sure that people are aware of this issue to ensure that it gets addressed.”

Vice-president (operations)

Running unchallenged for the position of VPOPS is Haggarty-Goede, who plans to enhance equitable access to educational resources, extend bursaries to students to enable them to participate in professional development events, and improve the accountability and consistency of his role.

Inspired by his time as a don in Leonard Hall, Haggarty-Goede wants to establish an HSS textbook bursary like the Residence Society’s bursary for first-year students in residence to improve the affordability of essential study materials. 

He hopes to expand the HSS’s existing EDII bursary, which is meant to support students pursuing EDII-related initiatives or research, into one that will also subsidize the expenses of students who wish to attend non-EDII professional development events to improve the Health Sciences program’s community presence.

Haggarty-Goede also wants to ensure the HSS’s finances are in order by working more closely with the finance commissioner. Although he was not aware the HSS had not posted its budget for the 2022-23 year or its assembly meeting minutes since March 31, 2022, he committed to greater financial and administrative transparency, when asked.

Furthermore, Haggarty-Goede wants to raise the HSS membership fee from $10 to between $20 and $30. 

“Currently, the HSS fees are, to my knowledge, the lowest out of every faculty society, and increasing the society fees would allow us to support students in a more substantial manner. It would [give] us the financial capabilities to run larger scale events to increase the bursaries to improve our standing in the Queen’s community,” he said in an interview with The Journal

Haggarty-Goede is interested in working with other HSS executive members to allow online students to opt-in to the benefits of AMS membership. He emphasized the importance of allowing for greater flexibility in membership benefits to meet the needs of online students.

“Online students have a wide range of different needs, and I don’t think that it’s appropriate to make an online student who’s in another province or in the GTA have to pay for the entire AMS fee slate just to access the AMS health and dental plan,” Haggarty-Goede said.


Elections2023, hss, online, Queen's

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