The AMS has hired more permanent staff with student dollars in the past 10 years. With a total of 12 permanent staff this year, the structure of the AMS is changing to accommodate new roles.
“The number of permanent staff has increased to meet the needs of the organization and student leaders within it,” said AMS President Kate McCuaig in a statement to The Journal.
The AMS began hiring non-student permanent staff to fill roles such as bookkeeping and payroll in the ’70s. Permanent staff hold management positions.
AMS General Manager Lyn Parry has worked at the AMS for close to 11 years.
Positions such as the Human Resources (HR) Officer and Information Technology (IT) Officer are roles held by permanent staff which were departments previously entirely run by student.
“The permanent staff members are additions to the team rather than subtracting student roles,” McCuaig said.
The IT office, which was run by a student director until 2020, is now led by permanent staff. The HR office, which was previously managed by a student director and permanent staff member Ian Trew, is now only led by Trew with students in supporting roles.
“The shift towards the permanent staff makes it feel more like a university institution and less like a student government,” said Brynne Takhar, Comm ’23 and the last AMS student HR director, in an interview with The Journal.
Takhar worked alongside Trew to collaboratively run the HR office. Takhar described the dynamic as beneficial because students might feel more comfortable talking to an adult than one of their peers.
Though Takhar learned a lot from Trew, she described being the last student HR Director as interesting.
“Given the AMS is a student government and student-run, it’s good to have students in those roles,” Takhar said.
Three years ago, the AMS employed over 60 salaried students, 700 student staff, and 8 permanent staff, according to their 2019-2020 Annual Report. Today, the Society employs 11 permanent staff were active, the AMS reported having “20+” salaried students and 400 student staff.
“Transparency would be really useful to know whether the current structure of the AMS, with the permanent staff, is the most functional way to manage all these services,” Takhar said.
Transparency—specifically surrounding budgeting— was part of the current AMS executive’s election platform. In their bid for office, Team KMV stated they would continue to market AMS job postings to increase student engagement within the AMS.
The AMS permanent staff’s salaries are funded in part by undergraduate student’s $65 membership fee and revenue from AMS corporate services, McCuaig wrote in her statement to The Journal.
The AMS denied The Journal’s request to disclose any information with respect to permanent staff members’ salaries.
“[The] permanent staff salaries are held under closed session by purview of the Board of Directors,” McCuiag said.
For McCuaig, there are only benefits to hiring permanent staff into the AMS. They allow for continuity in offices with high turnover rates and can assist in training students who are fulfilling new roles.
“The AMS in their mission aims to be no experience necessary. Permanent staff members allow for the training to retain the consistency of the AMS,” McCuiag said.
McCuiag was unclear if the AMS intends to expand the current permanent staff team in her statement to The Journal. Ultimately, all decisions around AMS permanent staffing are made by the AMS Board of Directors.
“The permanent staff really do care about the students” Tahkar said. “[But] it’s definitely interesting to see less students running the student government.”
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