AMS & rector hopefuls duke it out one last time

All four AMS executive teams answered questions during a debate held in the Lower Ceilidh.
All four AMS executive teams answered questions during a debate held in the Lower Ceilidh.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the third and final AMS executive candidate debate last night came when an audience member asked each team to show their commitment to University athletics by performing an impromptu cheer.

“Row, row, row your boat, quickly down the stream,” Team MBT sang, starting off their cheer. “Eat our wake, it’s a piece of cake—we’re the Golden Gaels of Queen’s!”

Besides Nancy Huynh, VP (Operations) candidate for Team SHT, who was attending a meeting in Toronto, all AMS executive hopefuls were present in the JDUC’s Lower Ceilidh to answer tough questions on Homecoming, AMS employment methods and human rights issues. More than 150 students attended.

While most of the teams agreed that an AMS-sanctioned Homecoming event held on campus would solve some of the problems seen at this year’s Aberdeen Street chaos, Team SHT said this would be an unsuccessful and unnecessary expenditure.

“Being drunk is not an excuse for anything. Anyone should be taken before JComm if they act unbecoming to a Queen’s student and if it is a dangerous act, before the criminal courts,” said VP (University Affairs) candidate Jonathan Taylor. “We don’t need the student government to have a party for us—students know how to party well enough.”

Team MBT was asked about their plan to reinstate the All Ages Access program, under guidelines that would allow only servers the right to give multiple drinks and having underage students sign a contract.

“This contract isn’t going to be something on the internet where you click a box—it’ll be StuCons reading through the contract with students,” said VP (University Affairs) candidate Meghan Teuber. “It’s about having StuCons at the exit, making sure people haven’t been drinking, checking that they have the X’s on their hands. It’s all about making sure that final evaluation is passed.”

Team HML stuck to their hard-hitting stance on defending students’ rights after being asked if their “Fight Back” slogan was too aggressive.

“We need to be an AMS that speaks up,” said presidential candidate Dave Homuth. “I don’t believe aggression is the best way at all times, but I believe in taking an active approach instead of sitting by and watching things happen.”

A few of the teams did show their aggressive side later on in the evening, when an audience member representing Queen’s OXFAM asked about their commitment to establishing a fair-trade-only policy on coffee campus-wide. Representing Team SHT, Taylor said that while they supported fair-trade coffee as an option, they would not force fair-trade “morals” on all students.

“Fair trade is not an issue of morality, but equity,” Jennifer Raffoul, the VP (University Affairs) candidate for HPR, said in a challenge to Team SHT’s argument.

Following the AMS hopefuls came the final rector debate, which finished on a lighter note: a “best-dressed” walk-off between Shiva Mayer, current VP (University Affairs) and Jenn Hirano, current VP (Operations) as candidate Ken Saddington, Sci ’07, hemmed and hawed over whose style he preferred.

One student asked candidates what they would do to combat student apathy—especially pertinent given the barely 20 students attending the rectors’ debate, including moderators and on-call Walkhome staff.

“I hope the reason there aren’t many people here is because everyone is well-informed and has decided how they’re going to vote already,” said candidate Tom Woodhall, Sci ’05 and ArtSci ’06.

Arun Parkash, ArtSci ’06, said if elected, he would do more to get in touch with students.

“We have to be getting out of the JDUC bubble, and the rector has to be part of that renaissance of student leadership,” he said.

Other topics touched on by the candidates included residence issues, tuition and the upcoming hiring of a new dean of student affairs.

Johsa Manzanilla, ArtSci ’07, said the relationship between students and the administration needs work.

“The admin is divorced from the idea of students’ reality,” she said. “If the administration, particularly the dean of student affairs, wants to truly understand students, we have to be able to ensure that my position as rector will be able to fulfill that relationship.”

Asked to give one inspiring line that he would give at convocation if elected, Saddington was short and sweet: “You can do anything.”

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