Yesterday’s debate between the rector candidates Aman Partap, ArtSci ’17, Marcus Threndyle, ArtSci ’16, and Mike Young, ConEd ’15, focused on student mental health and wellness.
The three candidates also debated over non-academic discipline and Orientation Week, and how they would represent students’ voices through their position.
The debates took place in the Lower Ceilidh of the JDUC. Approximately 50 people attended.
When asked about assessing the state of mental health resources on campus Partap, ArtSci ’17, said the University is doing a “fairly decent job.”
“I’m not a professional in mental health,” he said.
Despite this, he said many students feel confused about where to go when they are experiencing mental health issues.
Partap suggested that all current mental health services could be centralized in one location.
The candidates were also asked to discuss why gender equity is an important issue at Queen’s.
“We have equality and equity amongst male and female students here,” Partnap said in response, adding that people at Queen’s only discriminate “subconsciously.” He faced criticism from Young for stating there was equity between male and female students and for saying that people who don’t choose between male or female washrooms are “confused.” Partap also said that the University has been clawing back on allowing students to run non-academic discipline (NAD) autonomously, but added it’s important to maintain student-run discipline on campus.
In his closing statement, Partap said that he wants to make Homecoming better and discuss mental health training for TAs.
Regarding mental health, Threndyle said it’s a service students should expect the University to financially support, despite budget cuts. He encouraged students to work together and to “be a resource for each other.”
When discussing equity, Threndyle brought up an audit done by the AMS Social Issues Commission that found that gender-neutral washrooms were a simple sign change or addition of a lock away.
Threndyle said there’s a need for greater communication between non-academic disciplinary bodies.
In his closing statement, Threndyle said there is typically a 40 per cent voter turnout, but he wants to be a rector for everyone.
Mental health issues were at the centre of many of Young’s responses during the debate and in his closing statement he cited the suicide of a fellow student as one of the reasons he is running for rector.
“Mental health is one of the most important things to me, not just as Queen’s but in life,” Young said.
He also encouraged Queen’s to become a national leader in mental health advocacy.
“Greater [advocacy] can save lives, degrees and relationships,” Young said.
He added he would lobby for faculty-specific counsellors to take some of the pressure off of Health, Counselling and Disability Services. He also said that the rector should be a role model for inclusive language and also highlighted the importance of gender-neutral washrooms.
Young suggested that the fears about the administration causing students to lose their grip on NAD have been exaggerated, citing an earlier conversation with the administration. Young closed by raising the issue of sexual violence on campus, saying that, as rector, he would encourage positive language and work to change attitudes on campus.
“As your rector, I will wear these things on my sleeve,” he said.
“This is who I am as a person.”
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