VPUA debate tackles platform feasibility

A recap of the first of three AMS executive debates

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Monday's vice-president (university affairs) debate focused on the feasibility of each AMS team’s platform.

The two AMS VPUA candidates, Team SMH’s Hasina Daya and Team WRL’s Philip Lloyd, debated about the AMS endorsing a mayoral candidate, accommodating various diets at Common Ground Coffeehouse and upgrading SOLUS.

The debate, which took place Monday evening, had the Lower Ceilidh of the JDUC packed with students.

Daya, ArtSci ’14, said in her closing statement that WRL had a “typical platform” with unrealistic promises.

Meanwhile, Lloyd, ConEd ’13, said every WRL platform point was feasible, and that the other team’s profile was less realistic. Lloyd said he supports an open and honest relationship between the AMS and the administration.

“This is not an ‘us vs. them’ mentality. It’s ‘let’s sit down and see where you are coming from,’” he said.

Daya said she’d also encourage honest discussions with the University and make sure her advocacy matched student feedback.

“Advocacy is about amplifying the student voice, making sure that students are well represented, by virtue of things such as OUSA [the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance],” she said.

She said Team SMH would implement a course wait list function on SOLUS, which would take at most two years. Lloyd said a waitlist is currently impossible.

“In terms of going to have a course waitlist, we’re not at that version yet. We’re at nine and we have to go to Version 15. You have to go in increments … it’s a slow process,” he said.

The candidates also debated the practicality of accommodating various diets at the Common Ground. Daya said her team could implement halal, gluten-free, lactose-free and peanut-free food options.

Lloyd said gluten-free is currently the only option feasible.

“No physical space right now can guarantee that no food will be contaminated. We don’t have the space or the finances in order to make that happen,” he said.

However, Lloyd said there’s space at The Brew for a separate gluten-free section.

Both candidates spoke on the Non-Academic Discipline at Queen’s. Lloyd said the AMS needs to move away from debates on its existence.

“Every year the administration criticizes the legitimacy of NAD – should this still be here?” he said. “I want to move away from that. It works. We are here.”

Daya agreed with Lloyd, and said she supports the mandate of NAD.

Daya said that SMH would make few changes to the Social Issues Commission (SIC), while Lloyd spoke about improving mental health on campus.

“Why burden the SIC with new issues, rather than focusing on what it does best?” Daya said. “It’s our goal to perfect what the SIC already does.”

Lloyd said his platform will create “faculty-specific training” for peer counselling service volunteers, and focus on improving access to counselling at Health, Counselling and Disability Services.

The two candidates were asked which commission they would cut if they had to cut one. Lloyd said he would cut the Commission of Internal Affairs, since the committees it oversees are the most independent out of the commissions. Daya said she wouldn’t answer the question, as she sees value in all the commissions.

The teams disagreed on municipal election policy. Daya said Team SMH would endorse a student-friendly candidate, while Lloyd said that doing so would be “divisive”.

“Not just one, we’re looking to learn about all the platforms, meet one-on-one with the candidates and then endorse who has student initiatives at heart,” Daya said.

However, Lloyd said if the candidate loses, it sets a bad tone for the rest of the elected mayor’s term.

“Four years is a long time to have a bad relationship with the City,” he said.

Instead, the AMS should promote the election and let students make up their minds, he added. However, both candidates said they would focus on increasing awareness of the election and the importance of voting among the student body.

Daya also said clubs such as Women’s Worth Week and Sexy Queen’s U should be given extra resources, such as club grants, to help combat rape culture. In response to the same question, Lloyd said his team would support “all educational campaigns” on rape culture.

Another point of disagreement was over WRL’s plan to lobby for more courses without prerequisites.

“We want to make sure all students can access subjects of all types,” Lloyd said.

For example, he said, he wants to take politics classes, but doesn’t have space for the full-year introductory course.

In her closing statement, Daya said the platform proposed by WLR doesn’t set realistic goals.

“I do not believe their platform in its whole is feasible. They are offering a typical platform, a platform they cannot promise, like WiFi in the University District,” she said.

Lloyd rebutted her in his closing statement.

“We do have a very comprehensive platform. Every single thing within that platform can be done,” Lloyd said.

“If we want to talk about what is infeasible we can discuss the SOLUS waitlist or the beer tent at Homecoming.”

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