Corporate interest

Since October, the Journal has attempted to gain access to AMS credit card statements.

Numerous requests for this information have been denied by AMS officials, including Vice-President of Operations Ashley Eagan and President Morgan Campbell.

There are six corporate credit cards, with a combined worth of $55,000. Full-time AMS employees can request to use a credit card when a purchase needs to be made — the Journal is no exception. The AMS is our publisher and is involved solely in our finances.

In September my co-editor and I asked to use the society’s general card in order to renew our online subscription to the Canadian Press Style Guide, a cost of roughly $70.

We were told it was maxed out, which led to the request for credit card statements. As journalists, we were curious about the flow of money, or the lack thereof, in our student government.

Legally, the AMS has no obligation to give us these statements. We found this out after we attempted to file for the information under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

The Act only applies to public bodies, so the AMS isn’t required to oblige our request. But we filed one anyway with the University’s Access and Privacy Co-ordinator Diane Kelly, who sent a letter to Campbell.

“I acknowledge that the AMS is a separate legal entity from Queen’s University and that your records are neither within the University’s custody nor under its control. However, I ask that you consider disclosing the requested information,” the letter read.

“Since the AMS is funded by students and run for their benefit, it should be transparent and accountable to them. Disclosing the requested credit card information would be a gesture of goodwill to the student community.”

Campbell replied on Nov. 28 that the AMS was advised “not to release the raw credit card data” by several parties, including the Society’s legal counsel.

“We pride ourselves on financial transparency as a student funded organization,” Campbell wrote. “The raw monthly credit card statements are only one small aspect of the expenses of the society. Moreover, these statements include raw data about our suppliers. Releasing this information could have a negative financial impact on our society and our students.”

As a corporation, there are grounds for keeping your financial statements within the walls of the organization and the AMS releases a financial statement audited by KPMG Financial at the end of each fiscal year. However, the AMS isn’t just a multi-million dollar corporation.

It’s a student government — one that’s funded by student money. Officials within the organization should strive to give students information whenever possible.

Stonewalling reporters who are trying to hold a multi-million dollar organization accountable is concerning.

You can say no to a reporter. You can say no to a Freedom of Information request.

Now we’re asking as your constituents.

AMS Exec, we won’t stop asking.

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