AMS debate visited by an Other Campaign

Coalition of students disillusioned by existing AMS executive teams raises own agenda

Other Campaign members attended Wednesday’s debate to address issues they feld the AMS executive teams and trustee candidates were ignoring.
Other Campaign members attended Wednesday’s debate to address issues they feld the AMS executive teams and trustee candidates were ignoring.

Students at Wednesday night’s AMS debate in the JDU C were in the presence of the Others. Not ghosts, but members of the Queen’s Other Campaign, a non-hierarchal coalition of students who wished to address issues they feel are not represented by the AMS.

Uniformly dressed in white and occupying the front two rows of chairs at the debate, campaign members asked AMS executive and trustee candidates questions regarding hikes in tuition fees, the “culture of whiteness” at Queen’s and the possibility of establishing an Arabic language course. Although the original plan for the debate was to have all questions submitted to the debate’s moderator, Chief Electoral Officer Adam Rose, the election team decided Wednesday afternoon to provide an open forum for students with questions.

Members of the Other Campaign asked the majority of questions during Wednesday’s debate without any interference from the election team. Eric Bryant, ArtSci ’08, is a member of Coalition for Accessible Education Kingston (CAE K). Bryant said he helped create the Other Campaign because he felt that the AMS was not representing his views.

“A lot of good people work for the AMS, but it concerns itself with issues of little concern to students, and people are fed up,” he said. Bryant said he thinks some members of the AMS forget they are student representatives. “A lot of people are running it like a corporation,” he said. “A disproportionate amount of attention is given to running services rather than addressing student issues.”

On Tuesday night, the campaigners mapped out their strategy for Wednesday’s debate. Representatives from campus groups such as Ontario Public Interest Research Group, Queen’s Coalition for Racial and Ethnic Diversity, the Society of Graduate and Professional Students, Killer Coke, Culture Shock, Queen’s NDP and Oxfam met at The Grad Club. The group agreed on collectively attending the debate, asking the candidates questions they felt were important but unaddressed in the candidates’ platforms, and wearing the colour white as a sign of unity.

Although the Other Campaign is alternative, Bryant said it’s not radical, and their intentions are for the betterment of Queen’s. “The Other Campaign comes out of disillusionment, but isn’t a revenge campaign or a purely oppositional idea,” he said. “We’re interested in constructing a progressive space in which we can autonomously act politically.” Although their questions were heard, some Other Campaign members felt the candidates did not effectively answer their questions. “It highlights the fact that the AMS election process and structure is incapable of incorporating views that do not subside with the AMS status quo,” said Aaron Lemkow, ArtSci ’07. “This highlights the need for disillusioned
students to spoil their ballots and construct alternatives.” Eric de Domenico, ArtSci ’08 and another member of the Other Campaign, said he and other campaign members considered running for AMS executive, but decided against it. “Certainly, it crossed my mind,” he said. “But it takes a lot more
than a new exec to change the AMS. We see a lot of good people working at the AMS who seem to
have their hands tied. … No one’s ruled out running as a team—it just wasn’t appropriate for this year. “I guess the will wasn’t there this year, specifically just because a project that seeks to substantially change the AMS and bring a lot of issues to the forefront is really an ambitious undertaking.”

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—With files from Anna Mehler Paperny

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