Team Wiener-Johnston not ‘the status quo’

Course Guide, expanded peer academic support service on agenda

Kevin Wiener, ArtSci ’12, and Rory Johnston, ArtSci ’11, are running for ASUS executive.
Kevin Wiener, ArtSci ’12, and Rory Johnston, ArtSci ’11, are running for ASUS executive.

Arts and Science Undergraduate Society (ASUS) presidential candidate Kevin Wiener, ArtSci ’12, knows bigger hasn’t always been better.

Although ASUS is the largest faculty society, Wiener said he doesn’t think it’s living up to its potential.

“The unfortunate reality is that students only hear of ASUS when something goes wrong and then they don’t want to get involved,” he said. “One of the problems with ASUS is that students start to say, ‘I might as well get involved in the AMS’ and you see sort of a drain of people from ASUS.” ASUS represents more than 8,000 Arts and Science students.

For Wiener and his running mate, vice-presidential candidate Rory Johnston, the three keys to a revamped ASUS are advocacy, transparency and services.

Wiener is an ASUS senator. He’s also a member of the Queen’s Debating Union.

One of Team Wiener-Johnston’s campaign promises is to have lobbying training for departmental student councils (DSCs), which represent students from all Arts and Science programs at Faculty Board.

“Right now, DSCs tend to be very socially oriented,” Wiener said, adding that his team also wants to create a DSC caucus that meets before Faculty Board to co-ordinate student requests between academic departments.

Johnston, ArtSci ’11, said he thinks ASUS needs to change its image and become more transparent on equity issues.

“I spent almost two years on ASUS and I’ve seen the best and worst student government has to offer,” he said. “Last year was kind of a stain on ASUS in terms of equity.”

Johnston, a political studies major, was a FYNIR frosh leader in 2008-09 and is the ASUS Academic Representative for Social Science this year.

“ASUS seems almost, at times, like a clubhouse removed from students,” he said. “It’s almost used for resume padding at times.”

Team Wiener-Johnston said they want to create clearer job responsibilities for the equity officer position.

The equity officer would work with different committees under ASUS to create committee-specific equity action plans, Johnston said.

The team’s third pillar is services.

“At the centre of our service pillar is the ASUS Course Guide,” Wiener said.

He said the proposed course guide will cover every Arts and Science course offered at Queen’s. It will include basic course information as well as information normally only available to students after they register, such as whether laptops are allowed in class, he said.

Wiener said the team wants to work with DSC representatives throughout their term and have a full guide available for students by next spring.

Team Wiener-Johnston also wants to expand ASUS’s peer academic support service, which is available to first-year students, so that upper-year students can also use it.

“For example, if someone wants to switch a major they can go in and talk to someone,” he said. “It would help to relieve the workload of academic counsellors.”

Johnston said he thinks the team has ambitious goals.

“ASUS [executives] have lots of good ideas at first but it kind of falls apart mid-year,” he said.

Wiener said he thinks the team has the drive to follow through with their campaign promises.

“If you want to keep the status quo, that’s not what we’re here for.”

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