Heated debate

Presidential candidates discuss accessibility in final executive debate

From left to right: Eril Berkok, Alexander Prescott and Troy Sherman.
From left to right: Eril Berkok, Alexander Prescott and Troy Sherman.

AMS presidential candidates faced-off Thursday night over how to make Queen’s more accessible.

Candidates Eril Berkok of Team BGP, Troy Sherman of Team TNL and Alexander Prescott of Team PDA debated in front of a spirited crowd in the Lower Ceilidh of the JDUC.

For BGP’s Eril Berkok, CompSci ’12, accessibility means ensuring equitable standards for students through extensive consultation.

“The AMS needs to ensure that regardless of students’ backgrounds, they can get the same experience with no disadvantages,” Berkok said.

Part of this includes ensuring the needs of different groups within the AMS are properly voiced.

TNL believes in accessibility focuses on getting students involved and making information and discussion easily attainable to all students. 

“It’s important students feel engaged in the processes of these decisions being made and their voices are heard,” Sherman, ArtSci ’14, said. “We’re going to try to make our AMS more accessible by putting in place an AMS app.”

The app will allow students access to room bookings, job opportunities, various student services and other AMS information all on their smart phones.

PDA emphasized the AMS’ role in promoting both social and physical accessibility.

“It’s important that the AMS takes a leadership on both [facets], and actually works to improve both,” Prescott, ArtSci ’14, said.

Prescott’s comments on physical accessibility were centred on making necessary renovations to the JDUC, such as repairing elevators and installing ramps.

“When we start speaking about the JDUC revitalization fund, [that’s] where we should be putting our money, instead of building bridges that don’t meet accessibility codes,” he said.

In response to Prescott, Berkok said that BGP will lobby the University administration to ensure appropriate physical accessibility standards, but added that student representation should be emphasized.

“By empowering these underrepresented groups, we allow all people within the AMS to share that same experience,” he said. “[We want] to ensure that all clubs are supported and different groups have somewhere to call their own.”

Sherman addressed Prescott’s remarks by commenting that TNL included an accessibility option in their fact sheet regarding the bridge.

“I think that’s unfortunate that candidate Prescott did not read our fact sheet,” Sherman said. “There is an accessible option for this bridge.”

Prescott rebutted Sherman by questioning the construction costs of TNL’s proposal.

“We hear about accessible options to this bridge, but we don’t hear about the price tag of incorporating accessibility,” Prescott said. “It wouldn’t work under budget.”

Prescott said that in order to comply with Queen’s Accessibility Policy, a bridge from Common Ground in the Queen’s Centre would have to connect to the JDUC’s third story, rather than the second.

“What’s the point of having a bridge if we have to go up one extra floor to go over?” Prescott said.

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