CHR is up to par

AMS executive recaps promises

The AMS Executive team will use bi-monthly video blogs to update students on their progress.
The AMS Executive team will use bi-monthly video blogs to update students on their progress.

Since taking office in May, the new AMS Executive has been busy trying to put their plans from their promise-filled campaign into action. President Safiah Chowdhury, Vice-President (Operations) Ben

Hartley and Vice-President (University Affairs) Chris Rudnicki won the Feb. 4 election with a 54.5 per cent majority. The team garnered a lot of attention while campaigning, especially because of one of their campaign promises.

They promised to install solar panels on unused roof space around campus. Their goal is to get an agreement signed by the time they leave office next April. Chowdhury, ArtSci ’11, said the Queen’s administration is moving forward with the project and will be issuing a Request for Proposals (RFP) shortly, after already issuing the preliminary Request for Information.

“The RFP is an invitation from firms and companies to submit proposals regarding on-campus solar panels, and will allow Queen’s to decide on the best firm to partner with on this project,” Chowdhury said.

The panels need to be up and running by the time the Ontario government’s current feed-in tariff rate of 80 cents per kilowatt hour expires in October 2012, Chowdhury added.

Rudnicki, ArtSci ’11, said that the university has realized it’s a huge financial opportunity.

“We’re hoping for fast deployment,” he said. “Construction will begin next summer.”

Another of the team’s goals for the year is to create halal and kosher food options at the Common Ground as well as implementing debit and credit card payment options there.

The debit and credit machines are now installed and ready to use and the executive is in the process of looking for suitable suppliers for kosher and halal food for the Common Ground. They hope to have this implemented before December exams.

In addition to the Common Ground, Hartley, ArtSci ’10, said Food Services will soon be providing a halal food option in the Lower Ceilidh of the JDUC next to Quiznos.

Creating new jobs on campus for students was another of team CHR’s initiatives. A part-time Employment Opportunities Coordinator will be hired to work over the fall and winter, Hartley said, adding that the AMS will create a database to advertise summer jobs in Kingston for students. Many positions will open in connection with the solar panel project, particularly positions for engineering and commerce students, Hartley said.

The team also promised to create jobs that would help beautify the Queen’s Centre and would be funded through Physical Plant Services or the Work Study program. “We’ve realized that there’s actually a lot more bureaucracy involved in this than we originally thought, but we will hopefully be able to offer these jobs before next summer,” Chowdhury said. In addition to working on more tangible goals, the team wants sustainability to permeate everything the AMS does this year.

Rudnicki said that bringing speakers in for the Last Lecture on Earth Series, who are part of the environmental movement, is just one example of the many initiatives commissioners are working on in conjunction with the sustainability office.

“We’ve also developed community gardens by West Campus, a full field of 16 plots, which will be available to rent to students, faculty and the community at large, particularly in the summertime,” Rudnicki said, adding that people will be able to grow whatever they like on the rented plots.

Hartley said that along with sustainability, communication is another main pillar for his team.

Within their platform, the team realized that communication between the AMS and the student body can be shaky and proposed bi-monthly video blogs as one solution.

“We’ve successfully posted our first video blog. It’s an intro to the AMS,” Chowdhury said. “We’re hoping to have the ‘What’s your Beef’ bulletin up before December exams.” She added that the bulletin will allow students the opportunity to offer suggestions and constructive criticisms about AMS affairs. The team has also been working to improve Town-Gown Relations.

“We’ve established municipal voting booths on campus which will hopefully provide greater student engagement with municipal elections,” Chowdhury said.

During municipal elections, the executive plans to get in touch with each team and invite them to an on-campus mayoral debate, Rudnicki said.

In their campaign the team promised three things in regard to Homecoming. They promised to keep students informed, defend their rights in the face of the police presence and co-ordinate a wet, University sanctioned event during the traditional Homecoming weekend.

“We’re looking into having a possible Alfie’s night with the intention of creating other spaces on campus for students to go and feel safe that night,” Hartley said.

Chowdhury said the AMS cannot do much to bring back the event as it was.

“The decision doesn’t rest with the AMS, but with the principal,” she said. “We aim to have messaging around the time of fauxcoming, and we will let students know that there needs to be little to no activity on Aberdeen that weekend.” The AMS will be distributing Know Your Rights cards so students know exactly what their rights and responsibilities are. This will be part of a larger Know Your Rights campaign that will include the use of social media and web advertising.

“I’m not familiar with any similar past initiative done by the AMS. The campaign will really be spelling out what legal rights students have and we will also be giving students the tools and the knowledge to file an official complaint with the police in the event of any incident at fauxcoming,” Rudnicki said.

Even with so much going on, the three executive members said they’re glad students are finally coming back to campus.

“We’re really excited for the months ahead with students,” Chowdhury said. “The AMS offices have been a hub of activity and excitement, and we’ve experienced a lot of self growth and perspective in these four months.”

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