Candidates running for AMS executive weigh in

Teams CES and SDL went head to head this week to debate platform issues and campaign promises

Vice-president (University Affairs)

On Monday Jan. 24 vice-presidential (University Affairs) candidates Kieran Slobodin of Team CES and Lara Therrien Boulos of Team SDL began the first round of AMS election debates at 7 p.m. on West Campus.

Although neither CES nor SDL made promises to bring Homecoming back, the question of how the teams planned to deal with students, the City and the University over the three year suspension resulted in divisive answers.

“We’ll talk to students and the administration about what they want to see when it returns ... We’ll put together a working group of students [made up] not just of elected students but students at large as well,” Therrien Boulos said.

Team CES proposed a Homecoming contract between students and the administration that would result in set expectations.

“Students have to know that with good behavior comes back the Homecoming tradition,” Slobodin said.

When asked about equity in the AMS, Team CES said that they would build upon previously existing initiatives, while Team SDL said they would focus more on outreach.

“We need to make equity more of what we do and less of a topical issue for the rest of the AMS … the anti-oppression workshops [for example] need to be a continuous workshop that is done,” Slobodin said.

Therrien Boulos opted to keep the focus outside of the AMS.

“We need to go out into the community, including spaces we don’t traditionally go to, like the grey house … it comes down to the relationship between the vice president (University Affairs) and the social issues commissioner. This needs to be a relationship where they feel like they can do good work,” Therrien Boulos said.

Current Vice-President (Operations) Chris Rudnicki asked the candidates whether or not they planned to turn the existing sustainability office into a commission due to increased demand regarding sustainability issues on campus.

“By turning it into a full AMS commission, you recognize that full cultural change,” Slobodin said. Therrien Boulos disagreed with the idea of a commission, and said if the sustainability office remained an office, it would be able to have a more politicized mandate.

Vice-president (Operations)

On Jan. 25, vice-presidential (Operations) candidates Ashley Eagan (Team CES) and Daniel Szczepanek of Team SDL participated in the financially focused debate of the AMS executive election period at 7 p.m. in the Common Ground.

Both teams agreed that the Board of Directors must be more well-known to students in order to ensure real financial accountability. “If students don’t know what Board of Directors is and how it functions, then real change won’t happen. They need to care, they need something to hold us accountable at higher level,” Szczepanek, ArtSci ’11, said in the debate.

Eagan, ArtSci ’11, said she experienced frustration with the Board in the past due to the vagueness of information circulated to students about events like the Board’s annual corporate general meeting.

“The best way to make the Board more transparent and accountable is to advertise it , [we need to] put together our information better,” Eagan said to the audience.

AMS Social Issues Commissioner Daniella Davila said the African Carribean Student’s Association will not enter Alfie’s due to its racist history and asked the candidates whether they would change the name of the nightclub.

“Eventually we will have to change the name … It’s already been seen that it does not allow the Alfie’s now to be an inclusive environment,” Eagan said.

Szczepanek said that he didn’t know the history behind Alfie’s until this year.

“We do need to change the name of Alfie’s … We need to commemorate Alfie Pierce in a different way than we currently do,” Szczepanek said.

When asked of their greatest weakness, both candidates pointed to their workaholic tendencies.

“I’ve definitely taken on way too much in my position … I have 10 full time managers, its about $1.8 million under them,” Eagan said.

“It is sleep, I don’t always look out for my own health … I can stay too long and not be able to take myself out of the working mindset,” Szczepanek said.

President

Presidential candidates Morgan Campbell of Team CES and Sacha Gudmundsson of Team SDL participated in the final debate for the AMS executive election on Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. in the lower ceilidh of the JDUC.

Current AMS President Safiah Chowdhury asked the candidates what they would do to address the prevalent drinking culture at Queen’s.

Gudmundsson, ArtSci ’11, recounted a time when she witnessed AMS managers on hiring night, an event that typically involves a heavy amount of alcohol consumption.

“This culture has led me to decide not to do certain things at this University. Drinking culture is pertinent in all universities and it is glorified on TV. We need to address this on a larger cultural level,” she said to the audience.

Campbell, ArtSci ’11, said while drinking culture is prevalent, there’s an assumption that everyone drinks, which is a mistake.

“Making sure that students are aware of the fact that drinking is not embraced by all students is important,” Campbell said during the debate.

Later in the evening, Chowdhury also asked the candidates whether they would reconsider re-signing with the Coca-Cola Cold Beverage Exclusivity Fund, which will be ending this year Campbell said the way that Coca-Cola had originally reached this agreement was based on American campus sales and that Canadian campuses had failed to meet these targets.

“It means we would be signing with a much smaller number … now I think that there’s a lot more room to look at getting rid of this and replacing it with an alternative company that we feel a lot more morally aligned with,” Campbell said.

Gudmundsson said Team SDL would have to consult with students and that they would listen to the student voice.

“If we would choose to refuse to sign we’d have to look into what other options are available and what consequence there’d be with going with alternatives. But if students aren’t behind it and don’t want it to be signed, we can’t sign it,” Gudmundsson said.

At the debate, both candidates were asked to differentiate between original ideas in their platforms and those of former executives.

“We haven’t piggy-backed [on anyone’s ideas] … we’re working through collaboration and building off other people’s points but I wouldn’t say we are directly taking anybody’s ideas and taking credit for those,” Gudmundsson said. Campbell said that while some of her team’s platform points have been influenced by previously existing plans, CES has not claimed this work as their own.

“We did the research. We take credit for the leg work and that’s what we’re excited about,” Campbell said. Ben Hartley, current AMS vice-president (Operations) asked the candidates how they hoped to fill the retail space in the Queen’s Centre, given that it’s highly likely decisions will be made before the president elect takes office.

“The biggest issue was no rushing when it came to contracts … we’re not making any promises in our platform … making sure that whatever we come up with is in the best interest of all students is the top priority,” Campbell said.

Gudmundsson said that she’d be interested in having a conversation with the current executive about the process but would respect that they are still in term.

“We have no concrete plans for what we’d see in the Student Life Centre because the current exec decides that,” Gudmundsson said.

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