Social issues dominate debate

Vice-president (university affairs) candidates discuss, sustainability, racism on campus

A small group of supporters and interested students made the trek out to West Campus on Monday night to see the first of three AMS executive candidate debates this week.

The first component of the debate spotlighted the two vice-president (university affairs) candidates as Adam Zabrodski, the candidate for team CYZ, and Suhail Panjwani, the candidate for team MAP and took to the stage to debate issues which relate to the governance side of the AMS.

The issues of club funding, sustainability, anti-oppression and faculty relations came to the forefront of the debate.

Zabrodski, Sci '09 said that, for his team to be able to support its promise to increase funding for AMS clubs from $5,000 to $30,000, money must be reallocated.

"Clubs funding will come from consolidating other committees within the AMS. I think that restructuring is in order."

Panjwani, ConEd '09 said his team plans double the present amount of spending on AMS clubs.

"We chose to only double our funding given to clubs because we are in a time when ESS might be leaving and it would be irresponsible for us to go after more," he said. "We would have to focus on efficiency within the AMS services."

Both teams have made commitments to lobby the new principal to sign the University Presidents Climate Commitment (UPCC,) which pledges to work toward a carbon-neutral campus.

"Sustainability is a priority, even on the academic level," Zabrodski said. "We need to send the message that students care about these issues. Educational awareness initiatives are one way of doing this."

Panjwani said his team feels that the UPCC is one way that sustainability can be addressed on a large scale.

"We can't rely on just reducing our environmental footprint to reduce climate change and that's where the UPCC comes into play," Panjwani said. "We need to address long-term climate change through long term infrastructure change."

Both candidates agreed issues surrounding racism will prove to present the biggest challenge to the incoming executive.

Zabrodski said the role of vice-president (university affairs) would provide him the opportunity to make proactive change.

"As far as my personal involvement goes in the issue of racism on campus, I see my role as a facilitator. I bridge the gap between the Social Issues Commission and everyone that needs talking to."

Panjwani said his experience as a member of Queen's Coalition Against Racial and Ethnic Discrimination (QCRED) has given him the experience dealing with issues related to oppression.

"It was my first time being a part of a group that actively acknowledged these issues and it was an empowering and educational experience for me."

Each candidate addressed the growing concern of AMS-faculty society relations.

Zabrodski said the AMS needs to be more flexible when working with its faculty societies.

"It's not about what the AMS wants from the faculty societies; it's about what the faculty societies want from the AMS."

Panjwani said the problem is due to feeling amongst the faculty societies that they've been ignored by the AMS.

"They're not looking for financial support; they're looking for moral support. They just want to know that the AMS cares."

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