Chatting with the AMS presidential candidates

David Homuth
David Homuth
Bill Howe
Bill Howe
Jonathan Scarlett
Jonathan Scarlett
James MacMillan
James MacMillan

HML

By Tamsyn Burgmann
News Editor

Dave Homuth, ArtSci ’06, has been in the Journal hot seat before.

This is the second consecutive year he’s run for AMS president, last year placing third with 14.95 per cent of first-place votes.

This time around, he’s chosen different running mates and said he is determined to win.

“We don’t have an AMS executive right now that’s willing to really broadcast what the undergraduate opinion is,” he said, referring to incumbent Team RHM.

Homuth, a life sciences and economics student who hails from Mississauga, questioned the current AMS executive’s quality of leadership, which has seen the resignation of four senior staff members over the past school year.

“If you don’t emulate good leadership in the role of executive, then people don’t feel appreciated, people don’t try their hardest and people don’t want to work there,” he said.

To fix this, he would be “the strong leader at the top,” he said.

“I would accomplish this by constantly being the first [to arrive] and the last to leave, by working as hard as possible and by truly appreciating every individual.”

But the AMS president shouldn’t be put on a pedestal, he said. The only thing he’s trying to prove by running—twice—is that he can change the AMS for the better, he added.

“I’m going into fifth year, and my goals in the long run are to go to medical school, so if I was trying to pad my resume, I would work in the lab all year,” he said. “What I want to do is to try and change the AMS, to really use my experience to leave an AMS that is more relevant to students. We’re not relevant right now.” The first thing Team HML will do, Homuth said, is turn their 30-page platform into their strategic plan. AMS commissioners and managers of services will carry out the “nitty-gritty” of the platform, he said. The executive’s main role will be to act as a strong voice representing the undergraduate student interest.

“It’s being that strong voice where there’s previously been silence to the University administration [and] to the Kingston city government,” he said.

He said he believes the cardinal error of AMS executive teams of the past has been that they haven’t recognized the “red tape” and barriers that exist at the University.

“We sat down as a team and brainstormed the issues and the frustrations that we thought were affecting Queen’s students, and our platform came out of that,” he said. “We know the way this administration is, in terms of trying to block student efforts in some perfectly legitimate goals.

“We know the way to get around that … the way we prove that is [through] our successes of the past.”

Homuth believes the ideas presented in Team HML’s platforms are 100 per cent feasible.

“I look at the other platforms as I read them now, and I know that so many ideas in there, they sound great on paper, they sound great in a class talk, but they won’t work when you try to bring that up to the University administration,” he said.

Homuth is currently the chair of the AMS Board of Directors. He was also an O.C. this year for Arts and Science Orientation Week. Last year, he was the AMS Campus Activities Commissioner, during which time he successfully lobbied for an ice rink to be built on Leonard Field, and also achieved licensing of football and hockey games.

He’s also been a QFA emergency responder for the past three years.

HPR

By Anna Mehler Paperny
Assistant News Editor

Bill Howe, ArtSci ’06, believes that within the present AMS exists a “culture of complacency.”

“That sort of culture within an organization has to be weeded out,” he said.

One way Team HPR proposes to do this is with a 20 per cent pay cut to salaried AMS employees, a plan Howe said will ensure everyone pulls his or her own weight, and that those who perform exceptionally get rewarded.

Regarding the unsanctioned Aberdeen Street party, Howe said he feels it’s the responsibility of the AMS executive to “level with students,” and convince them to take ownership of Homecoming as a celebration of the University.

This is something past AMS executives have failed to do, he said.

“[They’ve] put on events that they know personally won’t succeed, but they’ve done it to appease the administration,” he said. “I don’t necessarily agree that that should be the role of the AMS.”

Solutions Howe has proposed for next year’s Homecoming include encouraging students to bring alternatives to glass bottles, and having Queen’s First Aid help deal with any medical issues that arise.

Regarding the recent announcement that the University will be paying a high-profile American lawyer to clear Principal Karen Hitchcock’s name on allegations of ethical misconduct during her time as president of a New York state university, Howe said he thinks there are many other areas the University should be spending the money on instead.

“I don’t think it’s money that the University should be spending—I think this is an issue that Principal Hitchcock should deal with on her own,” he said. “I categorically disagree with that concept and that’s something that I will say to the principal if elected.”

Howe attributed this year’s stock of four AMS resignations to a lack of belief in this year’s council and the executive.

“That’s the thing that this executive has done very poorly,” he said. “You have to have a council … that is committed and believes in what you’re doing and it committed to working on it.”

Howe said a problem he’s noticed with successive AMS executives is a tendency to pursue their own agenda once elected.

“We find AMS exec teams, for far too long, ask students to elect them and then once they’re elected, represent their own opinions,” he said. “We want to make sure that student opinion is at the forefront of the AMS.”

Howe was not always this engaged in the University. Halfway through second year, he was seriously considering leaving Queen’s.

“Coming back from the Castle after my year away was very difficult, because I found that Queen’s is a university very centralized on the first-year experience,” he said. “After the first semester, I was actually pretty disappointed with my experience thus far.

“I spoke to my parents and considered transferring to another school.”

Ultimately, Howe decided to stay.

“I had heard so much about the Queen’s experience and what it was supposed to be about, and I wasn’t going to give up that easily,” he said. “I vowed to get more involved in the Queen’s community so that I would have that experience that everyone spoke so highly of.”

Two years later, Howe said he has had that experience, having been involved as head manager of Destinations, and with the Student Poverty committee, the SHRC, Studio Q, and has been a Gael and an ASUS representative to the AMS.

MBT

By Janet Shulist
Assistant News Editor

James Macmillan, ArtSci ’07, wants to prove that any Queen’s student can become AMS president.

“I don’t think that I am any more qualified than anyone else who puts in the work to create a campaign and create a platform,” he told the Journal. “I think students at this school are the most talented in Canada, and I think that if anyone at this school puts in the time and interest to create a good platform and campaign then they have as good a shot as anyone.”

Macmillan, who hails from Ottawa, is running for next year’s AMS president as part of team MBT.

“The main focus of our team is creating realistic goals and sticking to them,” he said. “I think in the past you’ve seen teams make promises so they’d get elected. That is not what we’ve done.”

MBT has set a plan of action to create new traditions and programs that students want and need at this school, he said.

“Our platform was designed so we could make ourselves accountable to our promises,” he said. “Having one promise per month, students can really see what [our] goals are and [what we’ve] done to live up to them.”

Macmillan said he would create a committee—made up of the Journal editors in chief, a member from each faculty society and chaired by two students at large—to review the team’s promises quarterly.

Working towards a safe Homecoming is one thing the team will tackle, Macmillan added.

In order to have a safe Homecoming next year, Macmillan said three things need to be addressed.

“The first major thing is restricting who gets into the party,” he said. “[By] making sure that those who get in are Queen’s students or accompanied by Queen’s students in a safe ratio.”

He added a safe ratio would be one guest per Queen’s student.

Obtaining proper insurance for the event is also a priority, Macmillan said.

“[Insurance] can be very difficult to get, and that’s why our team has already sent letters to Molson and Labatt, to see if they would be willing to come and help us put on this event because they have the most comprehensive coverage for events like that.”

Macmillan said it was also important to prepare students for the weekend.

“Since Homecoming is the week after Frosh Week, students are in the party mode,” he said. “What the AMS didn’t do this year is talk to students about what Homecoming is about and prepare them to be responsible that weekend.”

Macmillan said he thinks this year’s AMS resignations could be attributed to leadership.

“I think the president is ultimately responsible for managing council and salaried staff members of the AMS,” he said. “I think that this year, not enough time was spent making sure that people were doing their jobs properly and that they were happy in their jobs.”

As for his team’s campaigning techniques, Macmillan said team MBT has tried to keep things as personal as possible.

“I think our team’s campaign strategy has been to approach a lot of students one-on-one,” he said. “I think covering the campus in posters isn’t the most effective way to campaign, and not the way we wanted to campaign.”

Macmillan is the assistant manager at Destinations. He has also worked for Walkhome and has been on the Tricolour Spirit Committee.

SHT

By Christina Bossart
Assistant News Editor

Unlike past executives, Jonathan Scarlett, Sci ’07, doesn’t need to worry about whether or not he will hire his campaign manager—his team doesn’t have one.

“We feel it’s one other person you have to make a promise to in a later part of your life,” he said. “We feel that, us being part of this campaign, why can’t we run it ourselves?”

Scarlett said his team is also running an environmentally efficient campaign.

“We’re trying to minimize our waste, our paper waste [and] our manpower waste,” he said. “The AMS passed the sustainability issue ... I think the purpose of that is to realize that you can’t just be handing out flyers on paper all the time. There are other ways to convey your message.”

Scarlett said he would never consider hiring anyone for an AMS position who wasn’t fully qualified for a job.

“I’m not going to choose my friend who helped me get into ... a position of power for hiring and university voice, to just give them a job,” he said. “If I had a campaign manager or if we had campaign people, they would have as good a shot as anyone. However, they would be able to put on their resume they helped out on a campaign that successfully won. That would be added bonus.” Scarlett said he’s hoping to hire an AMS council consisting of representatives from all faculties.

“We want to hire the best and the brightest, essentially,” he said. “We want to make sure the school is equally represented from every faculty—doesn’t matter gender, doesn’t matter your background, you will have a chance if you’re talented.”

Scarlett said he has not been involved with the AMS before, which he feels is an asset.

“I don’t feel that memorizing everything abut the AMS is important to being president,” he said. “You shouldn’t know everything going into a job.”

Scarlett said finding a solution for Homecoming is something that will take all groups involved time to figure out.

“We [would] make sure we talk with the city, talk with the police, to make sure they have an understanding of what this event is like,” he said. “But it’s a long, lengthy process to get these people on board.”

He added there are many ways of preventing the broken bottles and harassment that students may have felt during the unsanctioned street party on Aberdeen last Homecoming.

“If a situation were to arise like Aberdeen again, [we should] make sure that the street is clear, make sure that houses aren’t going to get huge fines that they can’t afford on top of their student fees,” he said. “[Houses] that allow people in to share a party inside the house, so that bottles aren’t brought into the street and in the hands of people to throw.”

Scarlett said he is interested in pursuing the role of president because he thinks the position would be interesting. “I’m not here to prove to anybody I can do this,” he said. “I’m not trying to pad my resume, add another notch to my belt ... I think it would be the most interesting year of my life.”

Scarlett said he has been involved with intramurals and EngSoc since his first year. This involvement has included work with EngSoc Alumni Relations for Homecoming, and “Eng Week,” a week-long series of evening events EngSoc runs to kick off winter term each year. This year, the event helped raise money for Martha’s Table.

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