Leora Jackson voted 31st rector

‘I felt like it was my birthday because I got so many Facebook messages’

Rector-elect Leora Jackson celebrates her win with friends Wednesday night.
Rector-elect Leora Jackson celebrates her win with friends Wednesday night.

Despite the low voter turnout—16.4 per cent of 16,054 eligible undergraduate and graduate students—Rector Johsa Manzanilla said she was happy with the way this week’s rector election was run.

Leora Jackson was named Queen’s 31st rector Wednesday night with 37.7 per cent of the vote in the sixth round of preferential balloting. Runner-up Quynh Huynh finished with 33.3 per cent of the votes.

Jackson, who found out she won at 3 a.m. Wednesday night, said it felt “surreal” to win the election.

“I felt like it was my birthday because I got so many Facebook messages and there were a lot of people who were contacting me to say congratulations,” she said, adding that a few of the candidates called her.

The first thing she did Wednesday night was call her parents and then greeted the 15 or so scrutineers and volunteers who were there to congratulate her.

Jackson, whose term begins May 1, said she will spend this summer building on her contact base so she will be a resource to students in the fall.

“There’s going to be a lot of learning and building over the summer,” she said. “I really hope to … become acquainted with all of the services that Queen’s provides so when the fall comes I’ll have a huge contact base and I’ll be able to make appropriate referrals [for students].”

She has already begun to send e-mails asking to meet with University administration and student government leaders before the end of this term.

Much of her platform during the election focused on improving the quality of education and teaching, she said, and she would specifically like to discuss improving teaching assistant (TA) training.

In 2005 the Senate Committee on Academic Development’s sub-committee on teaching assistants proposed a mandatory minimum of three hours of training for TAs. Senate approved the policy on May 25, 2005.

Each department is responsible for training its TAs on marking criteria, effective communication and sensitivity to gender, accessibility and race issues.

Jackson, who’s a TA for MATH121 this year, said the policy isn’t heavily enforced right now. For her TA training session, only about six of the eight TAs hired showed up.

“I had about an hour, an hour and a half, of training before I was sort of let loose in the classroom,” she said. “I was very nervous going into my first tutorial. … I was lucky I had the ConEd background.”

Jackson said she wants more emphasis on training, including training for the course TAs are teaching.

“What I would like to see happen is for Senate to raise it as an issue and go from there,” she said. “What good is [the policy] if it’s not put into action?”

Jackson said she wants to work with the AMS Academic Affairs Commissioner to introduce a way for students to give feedback to their TAs, much like the University Survey of Student Assessment forms students fill out about their instructors.

“I’m going to meet with the current academic affairs commissioner early next week and we’ll have a chance to talk about that a little bit more.”

She wants to maintain a strong relationship with the Society of Graduate and Professional Studies (SGPS) executive.

“It places a big responsibility on me as the rector to … ensure that I’m adequately representing them,” she said, adding that she’s a little surprised no graduate students ran for the position.

One issue that has come up in her discussions with SGPS President Arash Farzam-Kia is graduate students’ need for their own student centre.

“A lot of the time, graduate students don’t feel they have a community space for events and programming,” she said. “That’s something to look into in the development of the Queen’s Centre.”

Second-place finisher Huynh said she’s happy with how she ran and with Jackson’s finish.

“I came close,” she said. “I did congratulate Leora because I do think she’s one of the candidates that will take this position well.”

Huynh said she would like to see Jackson follow up on some of the issues other candidates brought up.

“I think there have been other ideas presented that Leora can touch on. … Teaching training was a big part of my platform.”

Huynh said some candidates also brought up creating a community space for graduate students.

“Emphasis on the graduate community—I think that was the only [issue] that really attracted grad students and I hope that she will take it on.”

Huynh said another consideration would be when to hold future rector elections.

“I think the timing wasn’t that good because … students were very busy with midterms and papers,” she said. “After the AMS elections, students were quite confused on why they were voting that many times.”

In a rare move, the election was held on its own, at a separate time from the AMS elections.

AMS Chief Returning Officer Joanna Adams said she doesn’t know of another rector-only election.

Manzanilla said a separate election gave voters a chance to familiarize themselves with the different candidates.

“When I ran, I was overshadowed by the AMS teams or the senators or the faculty societies who were running at the same time, whereas people will know Leora a lot more,” she said.

Manzanilla said the low voter turnout, which she believes is the result of the election being held at a different time, is balanced by a more informed voting population, because only those who learned about the position would have voted.

“In the past, there would be a lot of people voting, but a lot of it would be motivated because of other elections.”

Manzanilla said she wanted to spare this year’s candidates the difficulty of having to publicize both the rector position and their own platforms.

“Concentrating on educating [students] about both the position and who I was … that was really trying for me,” she said. “I wanted to make sure that the next rector would not have to tackle that.”

She said a separate election gave her time to launch an education campaign on the rector position, and gave candidates freedom to focus solely on their own campaigns, she said, adding that this might have motivated more to run.

Manzanilla said she thought all of the candidates were more or less equally qualified.

“What I remember most from when I ran was, it’s all about face and name recognition,” she said. “Once you get that established, educating people about your platform is secondary.”

She said this isn’t to downplay the rector’s platform.

“The rector is very different from the AMS because the AMS is about the vision itself,” she said. “But for rector, more emphasis is put on the individual … what the students need is trust in that person.”

The rector-elect will begin following Manzanilla to meetings to learn the role, she said.

Rector election results

First Round

Brooks Barnett: 193 votes; 7.8 per cent
Eric Dalke: 379 votes; 15.3 per cent
Quynh Huynh: 389 votes; 15.7 per cent
Leora Jackson: 447 votes; 18 per cent
Chi Yan Lam: 327 votes; 13.2 per cent
John Wintermeyer: 260 votes; 10.5 per cent
Andrew Yaworski: 467 votes; 18.8 per cent
Spoiled Ballots: 21; 0.8 per cent

Second Round

Eric Dalke: 411 votes; 16.6 per cent
Quynh Huynh: 411 votes; 16.6 per cent
Leora Jackson: 483 votes; 19.5 per cent
Chi Yan Lam: 345 votes; 13.9 per cent
John Wintermeyer: 280 votes; 11.3 per cent
Andrew Yaworski: 485 votes; 19.5 per cent
Spoiled Ballots: 68; 2.7 per cent

Third Round

Eric Dalke: 458 votes; 18.4 per cent
Quynh Huynh: 452 votes; 18.2 per cent
Leora Jackson: 518 votes; 20.9 per cent
Chi Yan Lam: 377 votes; 15.2 per cent
Andrew Yaworski: 516 votes; 20.8 per cent
Spoiled Ballots: 162; 6.5 per cent

Fourth Round

Eric Dalke: 520 votes; 20.9 per cent
Quynh Huynh: 552 votes; 22.2 per cent
Leora Jackson: 598 votes; 24.1 per cent
Andrew Yaworski: 572 votes; 23 per cent
Spoiled Ballots: 241; 9.7 per cent

Fifth Round

Quynh Huynh: 669 votes; 26.9 per cent
Leora Jackson: 738 votes; 29.7 per cent
Andrew Yaworski: 646 votes; 26 per cent
Spoiled Ballots: 430; 17.3 per cent

Sixth Round

Quynh Huynh: 828 votes; 33.3 per cent
Leora Jackson: 936 votes; 37.7 per cent
Spoiled ballots: 719; 29 per cent

2,483 votes cast in total. Percentages rounded to nearest 10th of a per cent

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