Fifty spectators attend first AMS debate

Vice-president (university affairs) candidates take questions on West Campus

Tuesday, Jan. 26 - 4:30 p.m.

A crowd of more than 50 people gathered in Jean Royce Hall last night to watch the debate between AMS vice-president (university affairs) candidates Chris Rudnicki of Team CHR and Davina Finn of Team PNF.

After a short break 90 minutes into the debate, questions opened up for all candidates, with Finn and Rudnicki remaining the centres of attention for the most part.

Rudnicki and Finn answered a number of questions on issues ranging from diversity, the Aberdeen Street party, town gown relations, student job searches, student fees, Orientation Week and accessibility.

When a student asked Finn about initiatives in multiculturalism by a student, she said she thinks supporting cultural clubs on campus is an important step in ensuring a multicultural atmosphere.

“There’s a lot of… cultural related clubs on campus and I think we really want to facilitate cross-club communication, making sure that clubs can work together to promote themselves,” Finn said, adding that PNF would continue initiatives to advertise cultural events to students. “We want to make sure that cultural holidays, events, things like that are included in, for example, the Guide to Queen’s Agenda, on the AMS website, on the clubs calendar.”

Rudnicki said Team CHR wants to stand in solidarity with marginalized groups on campus.

“It’s a little problematic when the AMS tries to be multicultural because I think it ends up often in them tokenizing cultures and just being like ‘look, we’re multicultural,’ and that is not something we want to do,” he said. “We want to empower students to form their own coalitions, such as the anti-racism coalition, because anti-racism is a big part of multiculturalism.”

In response to a question from Municipal Affairs Commissioner Libby Shaker about the upcoming municipal elections, Finn said PNF would like to see polling stations and candidate debates on campus.

“We are proud members of the Kingston community and we need to be a part of that,” she said. “We want to make sure that there’s a polling station on campus so that it’s easy for students to vote. We want to try to get a debate on campus.”

Rudnicki said he would also like to see a candidates’ debate on campus to increase student interest in municipal affairs.

“A polling station on campus is a fantastic idea, that’s something CHR definitely supports,” he said, adding that CHR would like to post information about the various candidates on the AMS website. “We also want to make sure that students are aware of the issues.”

The teams agreed on most of the topics they were discussing, but they did have differing opinions on some of the issues. The teams disagreed on Town Hall meetings, which PNF supports holding and CHR does not.

When it came to a student question about the newly-introduced AMS Equity Caucus, Finn said she thinks the Equity Caucus is a great initiative, but would like to see it opened up as a forum for all students to be able to bring forward their concerns.

“I think it should be expanded to be a forum and not necessarily a caucus,” she said. “I think that there needs to be more student involvement and [it should be] open to any students to come and present their issues and just have dialogue.”

Rudnicki disagreed with Finn’s stance on the caucus. He said he thinks the caucus should include members of faculty societies only.

“I think I finally found something that we disagree on,” he said, adding that he thinks the sitting members of the caucus should consist of members of faculty societies only. “This is so it can remain as a location where those faculty societies put forth a representative who is in the right mind frame of being an anti-oppressive space.”

The vice-president (operations) candidate debate between Team CHR's Ben Hartley and Team PNF's Kasmet Niyongabo is tonight at 7 p.m. in Victoria Hall.

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