AMS stance brave, rash

AMS Assembly voted unanimously with one abstention last Wednesday in favour of a motion stating its opposition to Principal Karen Hitchcock’s reappointment. Her five-year term ends June 30, 2009.

AMS President Kingsley Chak abstained from voting, citing his involvement in the nine-member advisory committee responsible for reviewing Hitchcock’s reappointment.

It’s commendable the AMS took a stance on such an important issue. Their decision to openly state their opposition to Hitchcock’s reappointment demonstrates Assembly’s prepared to potentially sacrifice amicable relations with the University to express its views.

It’s questionable whether the AMS’s chosen course of action was the most constructive option, however. Coming at the tail end of the review submission process, it’s unclear what the effect this motion will have on the review, if any.

The AMS motion lost some of its credibility in the AMS’s failure to consult students before voting. The AMS is meant to be students’ voice, but it’s impossible to tell if this motion represents student opinion.

Hitchcock has refused to comment on anything related to her reappointment. This decision only makes her more detached from student needs and opinions, however.

Hitchcock was similarly silent when she came under scrutiny for allegations of ethical misconduct during her term as principal of the State University of New York at Albany. Her decision to stay mum then—and now—when faced with public dissatisfaction doesn’t exactly instill confidence.

If she hopes to regain Queen’s students’ confidence and repair the obviously fractured relationship with the AMS, she should start by acknowledging that they have spoken at all.

The AMS puts itself in potentially hot water with this public and unequivocal statement of disapproval. It will be interesting to see how this motion affects the relationship of next year’s executive with Hitchcock and the administration.

Also interesting is the SGPS’s response, which has been to distance itself from the motion in an apparent role reversal: the graduate and professional student society has traditionally been more vocal than the AMS.

Although the motion’s long-term effects remain to be seen, the AMS should be lauded for taking a stand.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.