Letters to the Editors

Response to Tom Woodwall's column

Dear Editors:

Re: “The difference is in their delivery” (Journal, Feb. 2, 2007)

It left me rather perturbed to read Tom Woodhall’s latest “J’accuse” column. Woodhall’s unprovoked attack on the recently formed Other Campaign was such shocking example of uninformed vilification I would normally expect the Journal to refrain from its publishing.

Woodhall seems to have taken little effort in even beginning to understand what the purpose or intentions of the Other Campaign may be, maliciously labelling them the “losers of the debate” and a “Coalition Against Everything” whose entire existence constitutes a “waste [of]... space” in his column.

Because Woodhall chose to lead off his column with a discussion of the Others, I can hardly imagine that he finds them a waste, nor should any of the Journal’s readers.

Worse, Woodhall has glossed over entirely the fact that before Wednesday’s debate, the AMS
elections team was not planning to have any direct open-mike questions that night and only
relented after Other Campaign pressure was applied. If it hadn’t been for the efforts of the Others,
we wouldn’t have had a legitimate democratic debate.

But Woodhall’s most grievous error is his assessment of the Other Campaign as a sweeping oppositional force determined to fight both teams. This is not so.

The Other Campaign’s purpose at the debate was to coercively table the issues that should be debated
but were not being brought up by the candidates. Tuition and student debt, racial and cultural issues have thus far been sorely lacking from the AMS election process. The Others are progressive students who have become fed up with the song and dance that AMS elections have devolved into. The claim that they lack legitimacy because they did not field any candidates is laughable.

You don’t have to be running to have an opinion. I sincerely hope that Woodhall has reflected on
how similar his argument sounds to George W. Bush’s, “You’re either with us or against us.”

Given the lack of Journalistic discipline in this article, I would call on the Journal’s editorial board to both retract this piece in its entirety and for Woodhall to publicly apologize.

Chris Horkins
Chair, Queen’s New Democrats, and Other Campaign member

Dear Editors:

Re: “The difference is in their delivery” (Journal, Feb. 2, 2007)

I’m not clear on what the point of having Tom Woodhall writing a column on the AMS election is.

Maybe this is a result of a lame duck campaign, but one would expect someone who was given their own cleverly titled column could think of something to say.

Pointing out that both teams are very cautious and not prone to expressing radical opinions can only be said so often. The most unfortunate aspect of his effort, however, lies in his critique of the Other Campaign. I’m not connected to it directly, but I would think that alternative views and voices would be appreciated, especially in this two-team race.

Also, I fail to see why one man feels his opinions should be privileged over multiple students dressed in white.

There are many aspects to democracy and the political process (and I am using those terms very loosely in the Queen’s context), and to suggest because they failed to run for a position within an inward-looking, largely useless body they do not deserve a voice is absurd.

Woodhall’s reference to the AMS’s “multimillion-dollar corporation” status goes a long way to explaining his confusion with the democratic process.

Like many others he fails to realize the AMS is a student government that should be concerned with advancing student ssues, not always the bottom line.

As a recognized body, it has the opportunity to be relevant and express opinions, whether they are directly Queen’s related, or involving the big scary world beyond our limestone walls.

Instead of criticizing students who are actually making an effort, Woodhall might want to take a look in the mirror, re-read his insightful columns and question his own relevancy. Thankfully his hat, already on backwards, won’t be in the way.

James McRae
MA Candidate

Disappointment in Wednesday’s debate

Dear Editors:

Re: “Candidates trade barbs in debates” (Journal, Feb. 2, 2007)

The voter turnout for AMS elections is usually 30 per cent, but this year it will likely be a lot lower considering the options facing students. Neither team feels the need to fairly acknowledge the alternatives to our conservative lobby group, OUSA, or challenge the highly questionable ethical
practices and affiliations of this school’s administration, yet they babble away about the importance of university life. The winner of this election will have little to no difference about how the AMS will function next year. Judging by their responses at last Wednesday’s debate, they cannot be trusted to represent the views of all students.

For instance, when the CMM presidential candidate was asked about why he abstained from voting on the university’s budget in his token role as the undergraduate representative on the Board of Trustees last summer, he explained that it was the only way to respect the diversity of student opinion. Fair enough, but how does this reason explain his unflinching support of our Thatcher-esque principal with regards to the embezzlement allegations surrounding her as reported by the Journal last fall?

If he had bothered to consult with anyone outside the AMS inner circle, he would have found that
this support is hardly representative of the student body.

To all of the students who are disillusioned with the AMS and do not see the point in voting: I urge you not to abstain, but spoil your ballot instead. While the idea of avoiding the election is tempting, you
can send a strong message by spoiling your ballot. Just imagine the effect of more than 70 per cent of students spoiling their ballots; changes would have to be made. However, I encourage everyone to go out and vote on club and service fees, because spoiling referendum questions counts as a No vote,
and hard-working clubs and services should not have to suffer because of a poor slate of AMS executive candidates.

Aaron Lemkow
ArtSci ’07 and Other Campaign member

Dear Editors:

Re: “Candidates trade barbs in debates” (Journal, Feb. 2, 2007)

Last Wednesday night, I attended the AMS candidate’s debate. It took more than 30 minutes and at least six questions for any actual debate to occur—one that consisted of challenges relating to debit cards and use of double-sided paper.

While it is difficult to distinguish what is or is not a “real” issue, there is no doubt that when it comes to tuition policy, representation on the board of trustees, and cultural climate, these two teams were identical in their lack of leadership and hypocrisy. For example, we continually heard candidates say that 1) they will do the best they can in terms of tuition and the makeup of the board of trustees while also insisting that 2) we must respect the fact that this is always how things have been done
at Queen’s.

This is contradictory. One cannot equate acceptance of the status quo with maximum effort. There is no reason to think that Queen’s tradition should not be challenged. Keeping with the exhausting doublespeak, Team CMM’s Vice-President (University Affairs) candidate Julia Mitchell made the
astute connection between tuition and demographics at Queen’s. We must do something about this, she
said, forgetting that her team’s presidential candidate, Kingsley Chak, abstained in a vote this year relating to a proposed five per cent tuition increase by the board of trustees. And to Tom Woodhall, who wrote in Friday’s J’accuse column that the questions asked by the Other Campaign “came out
as a series of personal attacks and loaded questions”: a question which points out a candidate’s voting record is not a personal attack; it is a recognition that decisions have been made that have implications for students.

As for his comment that “The Other Campaign showed their frustration with the apathy of the candidates by not running in either the trustee or executive races”: he seems to neglect that, in a democracy, individuals and groups can, and should legitimately criticize candidates without running themselves; that’s what debate and deliberation is for.

The Journal reported this year that about 50 per cent of Queen’s students receive financial aid. This fact, along with the intrinsic value of accessible education, suggests that, in keeping tuition off of their platform and refusing to challenge current and previous AMS policies, both teams are disregarding key issues affecting students.

Avi Grand
ArtSci ’07 and Other Campaign member

Dear Editors:

Re: “Candidates trade barbs in debates” (Journal, Feb. 2, 2007)

I was present on Jan. 31 at the AMS candidates debate in the Lower Ceilidh in the JDUC and was quite disappointed in one of the questions asked and the answer provided.

A questioner stated that they had been the only member of the AMS that did not have white skin and wanted to know what the platforms included for increasing diversity within the AMS were.

The candidates basically stated that this was an issue and that they are trying to do more to incorporate diversity into the AMS. I would like to know how you can actually go about consciously increasing diversity without in turn creating discrimination. When AMS hiring occurs, the applicant
that is most qualified and seems best suited for the job will be selected, independent of their skin colour or culture or anything else of that nature. I believe that the disproportion in diversity within the AMS and within Queen’s University as a whole is not a result of discrimination, but is a result of the
composition of the population at Queen’s and for that matter, in all of Canada as a nation.

Canadians, especially those at Queen’s University, widely accept and encourage diversity whole-heartedly and of course are inclusive of all people. Because the population represented by the AMS is mostly Caucasian people, it does not mean that diversity is not accepted there; it is simply representative of the population. A similar argument could be made in the opposite direction in light of Oprah’s latest undertaking. Oprah has decided to open a school for underprivileged children with
a higher admittance to African-American children over Caucasian children. What is Oprah’s reasoning for this? The population of underprivileged, impoverished children in the United States is dominated
by African-American citizens. This does not indicate discrimination against Caucasians; it is simply representing the population. A similar effect, although unconsciously in this case, is happening within the AMS at Queen’s.

My argument is simply suggesting that we must stop creating controversy and overanalyzing situations that are beyond our control. Diversity is apparent and wonderful at Queen’s and situations such as
that of the AMS are simply due to a higher force: in this case, the composition of the Canadian population.

Joy Gillespie
ArtSci ’09

TPC criticized for Wii

Dear Editors:

Team TPC couldn’t care less about the upcoming AMS election.

At least that’s what it looked like last Thursday, in the lower Ceilidh of the JDUC. As VP (Operations) candidate John Paterson shook hands with students, President Alvin Tedjo, standing behind an LCD projector, shook the controller of his Nintendo Wii.

Apparently, Tedjo was far too busy knocking virtual baseballs out of the park to meet with any students, around whom this upcoming election is supposed to be centred.

Along with those baseballs, Tedjo has also knocked out of the park all hope of an AMS presidency.
What sort of message does Tedjo’s behaviour send to us, the students? A very bad one, indeed. It reflects poorly on Tedjo and Team TPC as a whole. Why should I vote for someone who hits
buttons instead of the campaign trail? If we can’t expect Tedjo to campaign for himself, what can we expect him to do for us?

Who knows what—if anything—would get done if Tedjo and that Wii found their home in the office of the AMS president next year.

Graham Hood
ArtSci ’07

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