RWS campaigning to target ‘real’ students

‘Insider-outsider opinion’ gives team edge, presidential candidate says

Team RWS hopes to ‘foster engagement with the student body.’
Team RWS hopes to ‘foster engagement with the student body.’

Two years ago, in February 2006, Talia Radcliffe became Campus Activities Commissioner when Louis Plamondo resigned amidst controversy over an ice rink that was paid for but never built.

Radcliffe, who had previously been deputy commissioner, said she felt she was thrown into the position and it taught her how to keep cool under pressure.

“I was taking four courses at the time and couldn’t really drop them,” she said. “I kind of lived and breathed the CAC.”

She said it also showed her there’s often a lack of communication between the AMS and students.

“The people I was around, myself included, were just real people and they really had to be displaying that,” she said. “That needs to be a priority for the AMS again … not being this far-off, distant thing that nobody knows about.”

Now Radcliffe, Ken Wang and Stephanie St. Clair are trying to make that change themselves by running for AMS executive.

Radcliffe, ArtSci ’08, said she has been toying with the idea of running for AMS executive for quite some time.

“I even almost did it last year, and I’m so glad I didn’t, to be honest, because my ideas and my opinions have grown so much since last year,” she said. “This year, after another year of growth, I’m so excited about our platform. I couldn’t be happier with it.”

Radcliffe said her biggest concern is eliminating barriers to participation in student government.

“There aren’t really appropriate representations … in terms of hiring, in terms of priorities of the exec, in terms of what committees exist and what committees don’t exist,” she said, adding that her team wants to make concrete changes but also change students’ mindsets.

“There’s a lot of things we’re hoping to do while we are there … kind of planting the seed of a new AMS, really.”

Radcliffe said she was starting to seriously consider running for executive by the end of the summer and she and Stephanie St. Clair, ArtSci ’09—whom she knew from their work at the P&CC—decided to run together one night at the Brass Pub when they realized they had similar ideas in mind.

Radcliffe said it’s tough to find the right people—both in terms of personalities and ideologies—to run with, but she lucked out in creating her team.

Ken Wang, ArtSci ’09, and St. Clair lived together in residence in first year and call each other best friends. St. Clair suggested they ask him to join their team because of his background in economics.

“He sounded like completely up our alley, kind of—everything about him sounded so perfect in terms of what we were looking for,” Radcliffe said. “That’s so rare that you can find people just like that.”

Radcliffe said it was especially appealing that Wang had never worked for the AMS before.

“It has a lot to do with our platform … targeting real students.

“We wanted to have that kind of insider/outsider opinion,” she said. “Insider with most of the students, but outsider to the AMS.”

When Wang met with his campaign teammates in September to work out the details of their platform, he was surprised at how similar their ideas were. Wang said they began talking and ideas piled up from their discussions.

“It just snowballed from there,” he said.

Last year, Radcliffe was marketing and human resources manager at P&CC. She was also a Vagina Monologues cast member, an experience she said was as meaningful as the year-long positions she has held.

“Having that mainly women’s-only space was something that I haven’t experienced before. … It was an extreme bonding experience.”

She’s also involved with CFRC as part of an alternative news collective frequency that airs twice weekly, and is a member of the Social Issues Commission’s Committee Against Racism and Ethnic Discrimination.

Wang, the team’s vice-president (operations) candidate, has had diverse experiences in and out of school.

Wang has worked as a bookkeeper for the local Kingston company Alteray Property Services. He has also done warehouse logistics work with Arlin Ventures in Vancouver, where his family immigrated from Guangzhou, China when he was nine.

Wang said moving to Canada was a culture shock for him at first.

“It was really my first time meeting people from diverse backgrounds because in China it’s mainly Chinese people,” he said. “I made a lot of friends from different countries.”

He said he represents the average student, who isn’t too familiar with how the AMS works.

“They seem to be recycling people within commissions. … It’s always the same group,” he said. “I think more connections need to be made.”

Wang said he sees himself as an outsider within the AMS. He thinks this will help him connect better with the average student. In his role as vice-president (operations), which deals with the retail and food services, he said he would bridge the gap between the AMS and students.

“Services are the contact point between the AMS and the students,” he said, adding that contact leads to discussion and feedback.

St. Clair, who’s running for vice-president (university affairs), has experience both inside and outside the AMS.

Besides having worked at the P&CC for two years, St. Clair is campus community director of Queen’s Project on International Development (QPID). She was also a member of Queen’s Habitat for Humanity last year.

St. Clair said being an international student—her father’s a diplomat in Ecuador and she grew up travelling all over—gives her a different perspective of the student experience.

St. Clair, a Swiss-American, was born in California and has lived in Mexico, Tanzania, South Africa, Washington DC, Switzerland, Uruguay and Ottawa.

St. Clair said she thinks a lot of Queen’s students don’t understand the AMS as a lobby group for students. Her team would create paid feedback forums twice a month so students can voice their opinions on her team’s initiatives, she said.

Team RWS’s campaign is built around three main commitments: engagement, sustainability and academics.

“All of our ideas have been painstakingly researched,” St. Clair said. “They could, and will, feasibly go through with the right support.”

She said a lot of systemic issues such as racism within the University can be solved by working with the AMS, because the AMS can provide venues for discussion on anti-oppression.

“One of the key points is really to try to foster engagement with the student body.”

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