Two teams aspire to ASUS executive

Teams Alli & Zaeem and Mason-Tahiri focus on the issues

Team Alli & Zaeem hopes to draw more students to the ASUS Core.
Team Alli & Zaeem hopes to draw more students to the ASUS Core.
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Team Mason-Tahiri’s plans for ASUS include the creation of an HR office.
Team Mason-Tahiri’s plans for ASUS include the creation of an HR office.
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Despite a last-minute change in their composition, team ‘Alli & Zaeem’ managed to launch their campaign for ASUS executive at exactly midnight last Thursday.

Allison Williams, ArtSci ’14 and Zaeem Anwar, CompSci ’14, made the decision to run together for the positions of president and vice president less than a week earlier.

“I had another partner I was running with who unfortunately ended up being unable [to run],” Williams said.

She’d been preparing for the campaign since last semester, and quickly recruited Anwar as a running mate. They had met through her work with the ASUS Judicial Committee, where she sits as chair. Although the team’s platform had been developed, they had to move fast to put together campaign materials.

“It was quite a scramble to get just our materials, posters, our bookmarks, our website,” she said.

In addition to working on the Judicial Committee at ASUS, Williams is a residence don on West Campus, has sat on several other ASUS committees and has done public relations work for Queen’s Meal Exchange.

Williams said that her and Anwar’s platform is strongly based off work that’s already being done by the society.

“One major issue we’ve identified with student government … [is] because you’re only in there for a short time, it’s hard to do much,” she said, adding that her and Anwar have been happy with the way that many of ASUS’s ongoing projects have been handled.

If elected, the pair will support the creation of an equity commission, a change that’s currently in the works at ASUS.

An equity office already exists, but the pair supports its shift to a commission which would extend its reach and resources and would give it more of an advocacy role.

Williams said they also hope to encourage a freer flow of information between ASUS and groups such as Department Student Councils (DSCs) and non-ASUS student advocacy groups like the student senate caucus and the AMS commissions.

“It’s a double-edged sword, having so many voices that work together on all these issues,” she said. “There’s definitely a chance to represent students, but there’s also a chance it could get diluted. So we definitely want to capitalize on that instead of having it become a hindrance.” The team also hopes to draw more Arts and Science students into the recently renovated ASUS Core, which is located at 183 University Ave.

To encourage visitors, the pair plans to offer free coffee and hot chocolate in the Core’s kitchen. With this, they plan to launch a campaign called “vote the roast,” where students will be able to vote for the type of coffee they want served at the Core.

Anwar, who’s currently the Internal Affairs Commissioner at ASUS, wants to move ASUS Assembly outside for one session a year to make it more accessible and approachable for students. “Having organized it for so long and getting feedback from members at large that regularly attend, the biggest problem is that it seems to be intimidating,” he said.

If elected, he plans to set up Assembly in a visible spot on campus, so students who walk by will feel comfortable to join in.

“At Assembly everyone has a voice,” he said. “I want to push it out there so students understand how easy it is to attend.”

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Team Mason-Tahiri has big changes in the works should they be elected ASUS executive.

The team consists of presidential candidate Scott Mason and vice-presidential candidate Irfan Tahiri.

Mason, ArtSci ’14, has experience in ASUS as a committee member, deputy commissioner and speaker. He’s currently the speaker and Chief Electoral Officer for the AMS.

For him, the creation of a HR office is a key platform point. Currently, HR matters, including interpersonal disputes, are dealt with solely by the ASUS president.

“With respect, I believe it’s an egregious conflict of interest,” he said. “In almost any case I can imagine, it’s the president mitigating [conflict between] employees that he’s picked or appointed.” To curb this concern, Mason and Tahiri plan to expand the portfolio of ASUS Business Manager Leanne McNeely by assigning her HR duties in addition to her business responsibilities. McNeely is currently one of two permanent staff positions at ASUS. “She knows the organization. She’s seen every piece of it,” Mason said.

He added that hiring a separate officer would come at a greater cost to the organization.

If elected, they plan to develop a comprehensive plan for the position, including a potential compensation change.

Another one of the team’s main platform points includes reforming the society’s honoraria policy. As a cost saving measure, the pair plans to eliminate the honorarium for the director of the ASUS Movie Theatre, a position that currently receives $1,500 per year.

“In our opinion, the days of watching movies in theatres and whatnot are over, [because] students can watch on their computers. And a better use of funds would be somewhere else in ASUS,” Mason said.

Instead of having an AMT director, the pair would hire two volunteer co-chairs.

They also plan to conduct an honoraria review for all positions at the director level.

“Some director positions take a lot of work …. [but] other director positions actually don’t take as much work,” Mason said. Currrently, all director positions receive a $1,500 honorarium.

They also plan to explore the possibility of adding a new director position for graphic design, who would be compensated with an honorarium.

The potential addition of this position reflects the team’s mandate to shift away from print marketing. Mason and Tahiri met in first year and quickly discovered that they had many political disagreements. They believe their differing views complement one another and make them a strong team. “We’re like an old married couple,” Tahiri said. “We bicker a lot, but we still get along.” Unlike Mason, Tahiri has no previous ASUS experience. He believes his lack of internal experience could be a benefit. “I think it’s my greatest limitation but it’s also the greatest asset I can bring,” he said.

Many students like him have had little contact with ASUS while at Queen’s, something the pair wants to change. One way they plan to reach out to students is through the society’s DSC.

Mason-Tahiri plans to have DSC representatives regularly hold class talks in order to communicate DSC issues to the student body. They also hope to make the council more focused on academic issues and less on event planning.

“We feel the DSC is a sort of big army that ASUS has at its disposal to really utilize and get the message across,” Tahiri said.

Voting takes place on Jan. 29 and 30 via an online ballot emailed to ASUS students.

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