Campus campaigns ready to roll

26 referendum questions, 4 AMS teams, 4 rector candidates, 1 election

Each team’s presidential candidate is pictured in the top row, VP (Operations) candidates in the middle row and VP (University Affairs) candidates in the bottom row.
Each team’s presidential candidate is pictured in the top row, VP (Operations) candidates in the middle row and VP (University Affairs) candidates in the bottom row.
Photos by Ian Babbit and Katrina Ludlow

The federal election results may be in, but on-campus election fever has just begun.

Today marks the start of the annual AMS election campaign period, two busy weeks during which AMS executive hopefuls will vie for the favour of the student body.

Four teams have already kicked off their campaigns, each with its own slogan and sales pitch.

But that’s not all.

Four rector candidates, three ASUS teams, and a slew of candidates for MCRC, CESA, EngSoc and COMPSA will begin canvassing for the support of their constituents during the next two weeks.

To round it all out, 26 referendum questions are slated to be on the ballot—the most in at least five years—which will ensure students have plenty of choices to consider when they get to the ballot box on Feb. 7 and 8.

All but one referendum question is up for either fee creation or fee renewal, and are pending approval by AMS Assembly. The other question is a “no campaign” question, asking students to vote against the renewal of the $4.00 opt-outable Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) fee, and is also pending approval.

The AMS may also vote to put one or more other fee questions on the ballot at Thursday’s Assembly meeting, said Sarah Cressatti, AMS Chief Returning Officer.

“What we’re going to have in the next couple [of] weeks is a real opportunity on all fronts for students to be engaged and to be informed and to get involved,” said Ethan Rabidoux, AMS president. “Will there be information overload? Potentially, but it’s a chance for information to be disseminated and to be up for debate.

“I’m hoping we get a clash of ideas, I’d like to see people enunciate their visions, and if we happen to have a clash, great. Let’s debate it!”

Cressatti said the AMS elections team has done a lot of logistical work to prepare for the massive undertaking.

“With basically three elections to run, our whole team has been getting quite organized,” she said. She explained that while her team will staff polling stations for all of the elections, the ballots will be divided up by faculty to be counted. The AMS elections team is responsible for ballots from the AMS executive and rector elections, as well as the referendum. Ballots from the other elections are counted by the respective chief returning officers of each faculty.

“There’s definitely going to be a lot of counting, hopefully not too late into the night,” Cressatti said.

She added she expects there to be high voter turnout.

“Each election and referendum question has its own core group of supporters,” Cressatti said. “The more people you have running, the more you have voting.”

Rabidoux said some key issues the next executive team will have to tackle include the problems associated with the unsanctioned Aberdeen street party, as well as mending town-gown relations. They should also be ready for Queen’s Centre transitioning and have a strong voice on Principal Karen Hitchcock’s vision statement, especially in regards to decisions on setting tuition.

“It’s definitely going to be a big year coming up for them. It’s going to be a gigantic challenge,” Rabidoux said.

He added that yesterday’s federal election brought many post-secondary education issues to the fore, which the next AMS executive should keep an eye on.

“The challenge will be making sure [the government] keep their promises, and that they go even over and above them to make university accessible.” For the second consecutive year, the AMS will use preferential balloting for both the AMS executive and the rector elections. This means that rather than voting for one team, voters will be able to rank the choices in order of preference. The winning team must achieve 50 per cent plus one vote to win. If no team achieves this number during the first round, the team with the fewest votes is discarded and its voters’ second choices are added to the totals for the other three teams. The same process will be used to determine the new rector.

“The preferential balloting system worked really well last year, so we’re confident,” Cressatti said.

Rabidoux said he strongly encouraged teams run a clean campaign.

“Respect each other, obey the rules and above all, remember that at the end of the day, it’s the AMS and Queen’s that come number one.”

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