Four candidates vie for rector position

Johsa Manzanilla
Johsa Manzanilla
Photo: 
Arun Parkash
Arun Parkash
Photo: 
Ken Saddington
Ken Saddington
Tom Woodhall
Tom Woodhall
Photo: 

Among the spate of elections approaching, four eager candidates have stepped up with ambitions of filling the role left by departing Rector Grant Bishop. The campaign kicks off today as Johsa Manzanilla, ArtSci ’07, Arun Parkash, ArtSci ’06, Ken Saddington, Sci ’07, and Tom Woodhall, Sci ’05 and ArtSci ’06, talked about their views on student issues and what they bring to the role of rector.

The rector position, a throwback to the University’s Scottish heritage, is unique among North American universities. It is designed to allow for a student voice on various committees, including the Board of Trustees and the Senate, and to represent students at convocation and welcoming ceremonies. In a less official capacity, the rector acts as a sounding board for students and an advocate for various student issues.

Both undergraduate and graduate students elect the rector.

All four candidates said they believe tuition deregulation is the main issue facing students.

Saddington said deregulation might hurt the University’s ability to draw students from all socio-economic backgrounds.

“Accessibility is a huge issue [because] deregulation might hinder some people’s ability to come to this university,” he said.

Parkash added that discussing tuition fees wouldn’t be easy, as there are many different parties involved in the decision-making process.

“That thing needs to be tackled very carefully,” he said. “There’s a lot of sensitivity with all of the stakeholders in the system.”

Woodhall said he feels more research must be done into how deregulation affects the socio-economic makeup of a program or university, citing the removal of tuition caps in the engineering program as an example.

“If the tuition cap is going to come off, Queen’s is going to have to monitor its effects on students,” he said.

Another key issue is Homecoming, and the backlash Queen’s has faced regarding the unsanctioned Aberdeen street party, Manzanilla said.

“The idea that students are the problem is a major assumption,” she said. “A major problem that has come out of Homecoming is bad publicity.” She referred to the closure of the Kingston Police investigation into the illegal activities that occurred on Aberdeen, which revealed that no Queen’s students faced criminal charges.

“As we can see from the recent investigation, it shows that that assumption is wrong,” she said.

Manzanilla added that she believes her status as a woman and a visible minority will set her apart from the other candidates, allowing her to give a voice to issues that would not otherwise be heard.

“The rector has to be able to represent the Queen’s community,” she said. “As a female and visible minority, I would be able to represent the Queen’s community as well as to be able to reach out to every single member of the University.”

Nearly all of the candidates have been involved in some level of student government. Saddington has been a student representative on the University Senate for two years, has chaired the Senate-student caucus and attended all of this year’s Board of Trustees meetings.

Woodhall said he’s done considerable student government work, including sitting on the Senate Orientation Activities Review Board (SOARB) and acting as Sci ’05 class president and deputy speaker for the AMS. As well, he said, he has built relationships with faculty on a more casual level. He feels that his experience as both an Arts and Science and Applied Science student gives him a broader knowledge of different areas of the University.

“I’ve had the chance to see how different things are affecting different groups of students,” Woodhall said.

Parkash, who is in his sixth year at Queen’s, said that more than anything else it is his experience as a regular Queen’s student that makes him a good candidate for rector.

“I can bring the average student perspective to the upper echelons of the University,” he said.

Manzanilla said her experiences with the Human Rights Commission and the Queen’s Debating Union, as well as her work with various cultural associations, has prepared her to be the next rector.

Both Saddington and Woodhall said that they would stay the traditional two-year term, while Parkash said he would follow Bishop’s example in serving one year. Manzanilla would not give a specific time frame.

“I don’t think the length of the position is an issue,” she said. “I believe that it’s how the person deals with and takes on that position is important.

“I can’t say that I’ll stay for ‘however long,’ but in terms of the quality of how much effort I’ll be putting in to the job of rector, [it] will be 110 per cent.”

Survey answer key

1) Beyond the Board of Trustees, some of the other committees the rector sits on include the finance committee, the advancement committee and the non-academic discipline committee.

3) According to the Globe and Mail, Vice-Principal (Advancement) George Hood made $442,127 in 2004.

4) Female rectors: 3 / Ahmed Kayssi, born in Iraq, was elected in Nov. 2002 / Famous former rectors include R. B. Bennett, Leonard Brockington, O.D. Skeleton, Jim Harris / University of Edinburgh.

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