5 vie for student trustee spot

Candidates vow to represent student interests on Board of trustees

From left to right, Chi Yan Lam, Hillary Smith, Nigel Chapman, Stephanie Kenny and Michael Ceci are running for student trustee.
From left to right, Chi Yan Lam, Hillary Smith, Nigel Chapman, Stephanie Kenny and Michael Ceci are running for student trustee.

Beginning today, five undergraduate students begin their campaigns for a seat on one of the University’s highest decision-making bodies. The undergraduate student trustee serves a two-year term and is the only undergraduate student with a Board of Trustees vote. Michael Ceci, ArtSci ’09, said one of the main challenges will be trying to get his name known.

“I’m ready and willing to do this,” he said, adding that he has found his calling getting involved
in student life, working as an AMS intern and sitting on ASUS assembly. “you’re able to access the
administrative echelon that most students don’t have access to and voice your own concerns and the
students’ concerns.” Ceci said if elected he plans to advocate for students as much as possible.
“The position of student trustee, you’re one of 44 people—you don’t set the agenda, the agenda’s set for you,” he said. “you can’t really promise anything for this position, you can, you know, say you’re going to bring these issues to bear because the best way to affect change is to sort of influence trustees.” Ceci said he wants to bring up student feedback when the board prepares to renew Principal Karen Hitchcock’s term.

“It’s important that the students’ views and criticisms of her and her tenure be made apparent to her
and the board so they’re able to see that,” he said. Nigel Chapman, artSci ’10, said he thinks the position of trustee is open to a number of possibilities. “The whole position looks like one that you can do a lot of things with,” he said. “i’m going to be able to bring as much as myself into it as i can. i mean, it’s all about communication and representation.”

Chapman said he’s going to do his best during the campaign and use it as a learning experience.
“The whole point of this is almost just to try-—to throw my hat in the ring and give it everything i can,” he said. “in many ways, it’s a way of getting over how terrified by this whole thing that i am.”

Stephanie Kenny, ArtSci ’09 and chair of the academic affairs Commission’s Teaching awards Committee, said watching the previous student trustee inspired her to run for the position.

“I think students tend to view the board as an untouchable body, so i think it’s the trustee’s job to make sure that the students understand what’s going on, because it’s their money that’s being spent, their university that’s being affected.” Kenny said she’s concerned with increasing student representation on the board, as well as issues of sustainability.

To raise awareness about the student trustee position, Kenny said she will host “Tea with your Trustee,” which she hopes will be more welcoming than the usual office environment.

Kenny said she intends to create more opportunities for undergraduate students in areas of research and development. “Whenever i’m voting on motions, such as giving more money to different research
groups at the university, with each financial contribution … there is a requirement that they create a number of undergraduate opportunities like more SWEP positions.”

Kenny said that it’s obvious from the number of candidates running that there are students who want to sit on the Board and be represented.

Chi Yan Lam, ConEd ’09, said there are always improvements to be made to the position, although he thinks previous candidates have done a good job.

“I really don’t think people know enough about the position,” he said. “if i do get this position, I plan to bring information down to a basic level.”

Lam said he hopes to start a continuous form of communication, such as a blog, to keep students informed as to the goings-on on the board, and to break down information into simple terms.

“I really think that when people get into something too big … there’s a term from psychology called groupthink,” he said. “Sometimes all you need is a fresh perspective.” Lam said he hasn’t worked
with the AMS, but his experience working as a Leggett Hall house president has given him a solid
background interacting with students and administration.

Lam said he hopes to bring people’s attention to the enormous opportunity that the position of student trustee offers. Hillary Smith, artSci ’08, agreed that the student trustee needs to encourage communication between students and the board, but said she thinks the large number of students running for the position of trustee is indicative of the position’s growing profile among students.

"I really think it’s because it’s such an influential position to be afforded to a student—understanding what the role is, and how they can use the role to help be the liaison between students and the board,” she said, adding that her experience as aMS campus activities commissioner will prove helpful if elected.

“I love working in student government and having the opportunity to make a difference. I have that experience and i think that, if elected for student trustee, I can have a positive impact.” Smith said she plans to pressure the university to publish a breakdown of residence and tuition fees, and advocate for student governance in planning for the Queen’s Centre.

“Undergraduate students have made a historic commitment of $25.5 million,” she said. “We can really make sure that students now and in the future receive the best possible results.”

What does a trustee do?

The undergraduate student trustee is one of two students who sit and vote on the 44-member Board of Trustees, the body responsible for the overall operation of the University. A graduate student also sits on the Board.

The Board of Trustees meets four times a year, but most work is done in eight subcommittees. The undergraduate student trustee sits on the Campus Planning and Development committee and the Advancement committee, which involves discussing fundraising and alumni affairs.

The Rector is an ex-oficio member of the Board of Trustees, which allows him or her to sit at the table, but not vote.

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