Questions of feasibility dominate debates

Queen’s Centre fee, Tricolour Outfitters among hot-button issues at this week’s AMS executive forums

Presidential candidate Holly Archer of team ACH answers a question at Wednesday’s presidential debate.
Presidential candidate Holly Archer of team ACH answers a question at Wednesday’s presidential debate.
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Candidates answer questions at Wednesday’s debate.
Candidates answer questions at Wednesday’s debate.
Photo: 

AMS executive candidates participated in three debates this week to get their messages and platforms out to the student body.

Monday the vice-president (university affairs) candidates debated, Tuesday featured vice-president (operations) candidates and the three presidential candidates debated Wednesday.

Turnout increased as the week went along, culminating with a vocal audience of more than 100 in the JDUC’s lower ceilidh Wednesday evening.

At Monday’s debate, team WCW presidential candidate Allison Williams criticized team ACH’s platform idea to use money collected from the Queen’s Centre student fee as a bargaining tool with the University.

Williams said the idea would be “a real show of bad faith” and it would “put bad blood with the University administration.” Williams stressed the possible legal implications of withholding the money.

ACH presidential candidate Holly Archer countered by pointing out how frustrating it is that the SGPS hasn’t paid its $4.5 million share of the Queen’s Centre fee.

“We can withhold the funds we committed if the SGPS does not pay their share,” Archer said. “This is our bargaining chip to make sure we get the centre we want.”

Another topic of disagreement was team RWS’s proposal to shut down Tricolour Outfitters, turning it into a space for the Earth Centre, Oxfam and the sustainability office.

RWS presidential candidate Talia Radcliffe said the team feels the store doesn’t fill the mandate for students.

“The Tricolour Market does not serve a student need, like Walkhome or the P&CC. Clothing is not a student need, period,” she said.

There are several clothing retailers across campus, including the Campus Bookstore and Oil Thigh Designs, so another isn’t needed, Radcliffe said.

At Tuesday night’s vice-president (operations) debate, team ACH candidate Jay Collins compared the idea to shutting down Common Ground because of the Tim Hortons located on campus. He said RWS hasn’t taken the time to meet and research the service.

Team ACH’s proposal to keep the PEC and Stauffer Library open 24 hours also drew contention.

Radcliffe asked how keeping these services open 24 hours promotes a healthy and safe lifestyle, a major point of ACH’s platform.

Jeff Howard, ACH vice-president (university affairs), said his team is providing students with the option to use these services whenever they can.

“We need to give students an option of going to the gym and the library whenever they choose to,” Howard said.

He also said the team has done research to ensure the proposal is financially feasible.

“We have talked to the appropriate people so we can get what we propose to do done.”

At both Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s debates team ACH was asked how students would be able to get home safely after using either 24-hour service.

Archer said ACH would encourage students to use Campus Security’s escort service instead of Walkhome.

Allison Williams said Campus Security can’t go off campus, a limitation that would put students at risk.

“We talked to Campus Security and they said it was not realistic and that emergencies are the first priority,” she said.

Archer said Wednesday ACH might try to keep Walkhome open 24 hours. Radcliffe questioned ACH’s ability to garner support from Walkhome for that initiative.

“I have worked with Walkhome, and they do not appreciate 24-hour Walkhome, especially throughout exam time,” Radcliffe said.

Archer said it’s a viable option given the number of students who want to work there.

A few questions caught the candidates tongue-tied.

Allison Williams could only apologize for using a plastic cup at the debate instead of something sustainable. Ken Wang, RWS vice-president (operations) candidate, struggled to find an answer to what experience he had to handle the $12-million budget he would be responsible for, finally citing his experience as an economics major and doing bookkeeping and logistics in Kingston and Vancouver. Jeff Howard had trouble answering how ACH would advocate to the administration to get new faculty.

All the candidates seemed to agree on the need for anti-oppression and diversity across campus.

—With files from Gloria Er-Chua

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