Candidates trade barbs in debates

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Students grill executive, trustee candidates on tuition, athletics

AMS executive teams debated their respective platforms in the JDUC Wednesday night.
AMS executive teams debated their respective platforms in the JDUC Wednesday night.

At Wednesday’s AMS executive election debates, students grilled Team CMM and Team TPC about social issues, tuition, athletics, and at one point traded barbs about one part of each other’s campaign platform.

Liz Craig, TPC’s vice-president (university affairs) candidate, criticized Team CMM’s plan to hire student counsellors to work at Health, Counselling and Disability Services.

“The health counselling program is only at half capacity right now and can take care of more students,” she said. “There is also a danger in peers that are not trained helping other students.”

CMM’s Vice-President (Operations) candidate John Manning criticized TPC’s campaign idea to implement a debit card system.

The debate took place in the Lower Ceilidh of the JDUC, and was the third in three nights. About 150 students attended the debate, far more than the students who attended Monday’s debate at Victoria Hall and Tuesday’s debate on West Campus.

In their opening statements on Wednesday, both AMS executive teams brought up the importance of engaging students. CMM presidential candidate Kingsley Chak said it’s important that the AMS inform and remain accessible to students. “When I first got to Queen’s, there was so many options that
I didn’t know where to start,” he said.

Manning said CMM’s plans for a centralized website listing campus events and opportunities for involvement will do just that. “It’s silly to go to Facebook to find events on campus,” he said. “This information needs to be centralized. We will make sure it happens.”

One question, posed by a member of the sailing team, asked if the executive teams favoured having student fees for athletic teams, some of which are already funded by the University. Tedjo said this decision shouldn’t be made by the AMS. “This should be up to the electorate to decide,” he said.

“Students have the choice.” Manning said CMM’s plan to create a centralized sustainability office for the entire University is a necessary step.

“There are so many [environmental] clubs it seems a little silly. … [We] need unification and co-ordination, to better share information and communicate.” Next, the five student trustee candidates debated the responsibilities of the position and how they would deal with them. Chi Yan Lam said that, as trustee, he would make the Board of Trustees accountable to students. “The students need to know why money is being spent and how it is being spent.”

Stephanie Kenny said she has experience dealing with large sums of money from working on a camp ground two summers ago as an accountant. She also said she would lobby the University to adopt a designated suppliers’ program for all companies with which the University is affiliated, and said she would regularly host “tea with your trustee,” which would be open to all students.

Michael Ceci said he’s not an expert, but would learn from his fellow board members regarding policy procedures. “The trustee is not alone—there is help from the board,” he said. Hillary Smith emphasized her ability to work well with other members of the board.

“It’s all about not being intimidated to make that bridge,” she said.

On Tuesday, Nigel Chapman, ArtSci ’10, said he’s committed to ensuring that the student voice is well represented on the Board of Trustees and increasing awareness of issues relating to student government and campus politics.

“In the end, the position [of trustee] is determined by the candidate,” he said. They decide how influential they’ll be.”

—With files from Laura Neals and Valerie Kilian-Clark

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