Not a seat could be found in Wallace Hall for the Jan. 20 Rector debates.
During the relatively friendly debate, candidates highlighted their plans for the Office of the Rector. The Queen’s Rector, who serves for a term of two to three years, represents students at the Queen’s Board of Trustees and is responsible for a number of ceremonial duties. The Board of Trustees, one of Queen’s three governing bodies, oversees the University’s finances.
Zac Baum resigned from the 2016 Rector election a few hours before the debate, which began at 7 p.m. Baum, CompSci ’17, made the announcement on his campaign’s Facebook page.
The four remaining Rector candidates — Liam Dowling, ConEd ’18; Julia Fulton, ArtSci ’17; Rigers Rukaj, Sci ’17; and Cam Yung, ArtSci ’16 — discussed topics such as transparency, sexual assault policy and how each candidate plans to advocate for the student population.
The debate consisted of 14 issue questions and four lighthearted “Fun Round” questions.
The Journal has included three of the most contested topics debated on Wednesday. Each candidate was given 90 seconds to answer each question.
How will you advocate for all student interests on Board of Trustees?
While each candidate emphasized the importance of communication, they also stated ways they would advocate on behalf of students.
Julia Fulton said she plans to attend faculty meetings, talk to various clubs, and create an open dialogue between students and herself. She stressed the idea of being a strong presence as Rector, a common trend throughout her answers during the debate.
Cam Yung said improving transparency is the best way to advocate for student interest. To do so, he said, he’ll remodel the Rector website making it more interactive and holding public open forums to listen effectively and better advocate for students.
Like Fulton, Liam Dowling emphasized the necessity of an open dialogue between students and the Rector. He said he’ll seek to create an open-dialogue with assemblies, presidents of faculties, undergrads, and graduate trustees to become informed of their opinions.
He also highlighted his plan to inform incoming students about the Rector’s office and its resources during Orientation Week.
Rigers Rukaj agreed with Fulton, Dowling and Yung, and said that the Rector’s office can only be considered credible if there’s constant and open communication between himself, the student body and other actors.
“The Rector has no hard power,” Rukaj said, adding that he’s calling for a pragmatic and practical approach to get results for the student body.
(For complete candidate profiles, visit our election website here)
Since there’s no supervisor and the Rector creates their own hours, explain your commitment to this office and the expectations you’ll set for yourself.
Yung said it’s important for the Rector to focus on their own mental health in an effort to provide for students. He again said he’ll implement open public forums so students can interact directly with himself as Rector.
Dowling said he plans to create a policy to properly define the role of the Rector. He will be a “leader and server” for students, he said.
Rukaj said the Rector can do anything they want in office, which has allowed past Rectors to do amazing things. He’ll seek to inform students on issues and listen to their feedback, he said.
Fulton said she hopes to have less students ask what a Rector is and what a Rector does by being a strong presence on campus. She’ll follow up with students who have addressed issues or concerns, she added.
How will you ensure that a full range of support services are available on campus for all students affected by sexual assault?
Rukaj said the University needs to step up their game and provide more resources through the SHRC (Sexual Health Resource Center). He plans to advocate for sexual assault resources to make them more of a priority.
“This is a priority of mine,” Fulton said. She said she’ll create an atmosphere where people feel comfortable discussing this issue and work with existing groups at Queen’s that address sexual violence.
Yung reiterated Fulton’s point about working with existing resources at Queen’s, such as SHRC. He said he’ll also seek to increase the number of counselors.
“If you are a survivor of sexual assault or mental health you should be able to get academic accommodation,” he said.
Dowling said all the candidates believe this is a prominent issue. Like the other candidates, he said he would use existing resources, such as the AMS Social Issues Commission. He’ll also open up the conversation about sexual assault in Orientation Week so incoming students know about the resources open to them, he said.
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