Executive summer in review

The Journal evaluates Team WRL’s summer accomplishments, based on their election platform

Team WRL has made progress on most of their platform.
Team WRL has made progress on most of their platform.
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In the first four months of their term, the AMS executive has made steps towards accomplishing all items outlined in their platform.

Allison Williams, Justin Reekie and Philip Lloyd ran as Team WRL, with a platform including five pillars: broader learning environment; health, wellness and safety; academics and professional development; infrastructure and campus resources; and engagement and collaboration.

In addition to the items in their platform, the team has embarked on a number of initiatives that weren’t in their platform, addressing the municipal election, safety services and the Underground, among other items.

*** PILLAR 1 ***

Tricolour Festival

The plan to host a Tricolour Festival where students and alumni can mingle during Homecoming has changed, but only slightly — it’s now called the Reunion Street Festival.

“That was one of the conditions of the University’s acceptance, that we change the name of the Tricolour Festival, because tricolour is kind of a pseudo-brand at Queen’s,” Williams said.

“We were happy to comply with that. It was a change in name only.”

The festival’s noise exemption permit was approved by City Council on Aug. 12, and the team is currently working on a legal agreement to be signed by Queen’s, the AMS and the City. An internal planning committee is finalizing programming details.

An external contractor will be hired to provide everything, with support from Queen’s Procurement. The team is in the evaluation process now and hopes to sign with a bidder soon.

Homecoming ticket distribution

While their platform advocated a distribution model that would roll football tickets out over several periods, this year tickets will be distributed at one time. Both models were intended to reduce confusion around the number of tickets available and prevent a scenario where free tickets are resold online for profit.

“Last year there was a miscalculation in terms of how many seats were available, hence the segregated distribution of tickets,” Williams said.

In working with Athletics and Recreation, the team determined the problem with ticket distribution last year was partly the distribution in two waves, but also the lack of communication.

“This year there will be a better understanding of how many tickets are available … and there will be improved communication to students so there’s no, at the last minute trying to figure out when tickets are available and getting up really early,” Williams said.

Orientation week

The team’s platform criticized increased oversight of orientation events by the administration, advocating that students maintain operational control of all activities.

In April, Senate approved a policy developed by the Senate Orientation Activities Review Board, which AMS representatives on the Board, including the Campus Activities Commissioner and the Orientation Roundtable Coordinator, were “heavily involved” in drafting.

Following Orientation Week, the team will sit down to discuss what areas need to be improved moving forward, Lloyd said.

Tricolour sponsorship

While the team was initially interested in strengthening the AMS’s relationship with Athletics and Recreation by creating a “Gael clothing line” at Tricolour Outlet, they now plan to host sponsorship days at Tricolour Outlet instead. The store currently offers a Gael snapback, where seven per cent of proceeds of the hat go to Athletics and Recreation.

On sponsorship days, all proceeds for that day go to a specific cause.

“After doing an in-depth cost analysis, we believe that Athletics would be receiving more doing a sponsorship day as opposed to the Gaels clothing line,” Reekie said.

He added the store plans to host an Athletics and Recreation sponsorship day in November, where all proceeds will go toward the department.

Improved Arts Council

In their platform, the team said they would strengthen the newly-created Arts Council in order to benefit students in drama, music, fine art and film and media, especially following the completion and opening of the Isabel Bader Centre. The Isabel, as the University has nicknamed the centre, will open to the public on Sept. 13.

“We are confident in our ability to strengthen the Arts Council this year,” Lloyd said.

The Kingston Arts Council and the Kingston Symphony have reached out to the team to discuss how they can work together, which Lloyd said will raise the profile of the arts on campus and offer a number of professional development opportunities for students.

Campus pub crawl

QPOP!, announced on Aug. 27, will be a weekend music festival for students on Oct. 3 and 4, hosted at the Grad Club, Clark Hall Pub, and the Underground. An all-ages event will be held at Common Ground.

“This will give the opportunity for students to check out what venues they have at their disposal on campus, as well as allow student bands to perform with professional bands, and we think this will be a great way to acclimate student music on campus as well as a great cross-marketing tool between the four venues,” Reekie said.

The team’s proposal also included the Queen’s Pub and the Tea Room.

*** PILLAR 2 ***

Walk-in clinic

The team has been working with DrugSmart Pharmacy to establish a walk-in clinic in the Queen’s Centre in order to balance long wait times and limited hours at Health Counseling and Disability Services (HCDS).

“We’re actually in the final process of approval by the University … so pending that approval we would then enter into the process of hammering out the sub-lease that will be required for that space,” Williams said.

The clinic will be after-hours to avoid competing with HCDS. The team is looking to host different health service in that space during the day.

“We don’t want to put a specific date on it … although once these negotiations begin, should they proceed in a regular fashion, it isn’t too, too long a process to actually rearrange the space,” Williams added.

Peer Support Centre

Lloyd said they’ve committed to expanding the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training to include Peer Support Centre (PSC) managers, the PSC director, the Social Issues Commissioner and the VPUA. In recognition of the work done by the PSC managers, they’ll also receive some money each shift for food and coffee.

He added they have reached out to faculty society executives to ensure better communication about stressors to constituents.

“That will continue as the school year begins,” he said.

Accessibility of Walkhome to faculty societies

The satellite request forms promised in the platform have been developed and distributed to faculty society executives. The form allows any club or event to request that Walkhome be present at their event and accessible to Queen’s students. The satellite stations will be free of charge.

“We’ll actually be working with [the International Centre] to help welcome international students when they arrive on campus and bringing them to either the residence, if they have to go to residence, or the Queen’s University International Centre, which I believe had problems before, and hopefully welcome them onto Queen’s campus,” Reekie said.

Integrating the Marketing of Telephone Aid Line Kingston and Walkhome

The team plans to start marketing Telephone Aid Line Kingston (TALK) through the Walkhome kiosk beginning this fall. TALK is a confidential, anonymous and non-judgmental listening service for the Kingston community and a member of Distress Centres Ontario. The integration of TALK’s marketing with Walkhome is to provide preventative measures to Walkhome in order to equip them to handle mental health issues.

“We feel that since it is a mandatory fee of a dollar per student — we generally don’t feel that it’s well-known to the general student body, but they are paying this mandatory $1 fee,” Reekie said.

“We hope that when we start marketing this service through Walkhome, it will start gaining a general presence on campus and therefore raise awareness of this service to the Queen’s community.”

Tricolour Fitness App

Williams said she has met with Leslie Dal Cin, director of Athletics and Recreation, and the varsity leadership council, as well as the AMS IT Office, to discuss the requirements to create the application.

She said feedback has shown preference for a streamlined app, in which they initially planned to allow students to reserve a treadmill, sign up for a class, book a locker and track healthy eating habits and exercise via the app.

“We’re also in the process of working with the varsity leadership council to make a decision around exactly what the streamlined app would look like, what the functionality is that is the most important for that app,” she said.

She added that they hope to have the project requirements document finished this fall.

Safety and security in student housing

Lloyd said they’ve figured out all logistics around selling security items — “do-it-yourself mechanisms” — and integrating that within the Housing Grievance Centre.

“There will be a select few at the beginning, just to test the waters to see how students are responding to that, and then as we assess their level of interest over the course of the year, we may increase the quantity of those products or expand other products as well,” he added.

He said they hope to introduce these items in early fall as students begin to look for housing options.

Gluten-free options at the Brew

The Brew has introduced a gluten-free quinoa salad, as well as gluten-free baked goods. The team will work with the Marketing Research Coordinator to create a survey to students to see if these meet the needs of students with a gluten-free diet. The survey will go out in fall term and allow them to make changes or additions in winter term.

“We’re starting with a select few products, hoping to gain some feedback, and then hopefully we’ll incorporate that in the winter semester and next year,” Reekie said.

Grocery delivery from Grocery Checkout

Grocery Checkout already has grocery delivery in place at Western University, giving them an idea of what delivery will look like at Queen’s.

Williams said they’ve found Grocery Checkout a space near a loading dock that will suit their needs. The team is currently reclassifying the space, and Grocery Checkout is sorting out logistics on their end, she said.

“We’re happy to say that we’ll be announcing the start of that program at some point during our term.”

*** PILLAR 3 ***

Expanded summer courses

Queen’s has joined Ontario Online, a provincial initiative that serves as a central hub for online courses expected to launch in 2015. Courses available through the hub will be available to Queen’s students and students throughout the province.

“In the timeline, there is a plan to add more fully functional online summer courses for 2015,” Lloyd said.

Electronic course packs

Reekie said he’s currently working with the P&CC to develop the electronic course packs.

“There were two major aspects that we needed to figure out, one being the software solution which we have now found and the second part being the logistics for the copyright license for the electronic portion,” he said. “We are working on that as we speak.” Reekie added that he plans to organize a trial run, providing a large class in the winter semester with an electronic course pack as well as a physical copy of the course pack. The electronic copy would be free of charge to the students.

“After the course we are planning on having a follow up survey with all the students to understand how it was used, whether or not it was beneficial to learning experience and then we’ll be collecting this data to understand if we should be expanding the number of options this can be used for in the following year or if this was not so beneficial.”

Library text-it

“The Library text-it is a function modeled after the University of Victoria, where you install a ‘text me this code’ function on the library website which allows to you to collect research materials a lot faster,” Lloyd said.

The University Librarian, Martha Whitehead, will consult with a contact at the University of Victoria about how it can be adapted at Queen’s, he added. No set completion date has been confirmed.

*** PILLAR 4 ***

Discounted Via Rail tickets

At this point, the team is asking Via Rail for the corporate discount received by Queen’s and AMS staff to be extended to students.

Williams said they completed an operational proposal for the rail company, which included the cost of the discount and how they plan to track ticket codes. Negotiations with Via Rail will continue throughout the year, she added.

“It seems to be that it would make sense to go a little bit slower,” she said.

Cellphone boosters

Williams said boosters are ready to be installed in Victoria Hall, Wattson Hall, the New Medical Building, the Queen’s Centre, the JDUC and Stauffer. Since external towers are strained by signals travelling through limestone buildings, adding boosters will improve cell phone reception while benefiting cell phone providers.

“We will be putting out a survey to assess where the second round should be going so students should be seeing that in the fall,” Williams said.

Two new JDUC services

Williams said they’re moving forward to lease the performance lounge space in the JDUC after receiving proposals.

“If we are successful in securing the lease that will be ready very soon actually — the timeline is quite short,” Williams said. She didn’t specify which company is looking to lease the spaces.

Wiliams said the team is also spearheading a student life planning process which will allow them to identify additional spaces to lease.

Isabel Bader Centre bus

The AMS is currently in negotiations with Kingston Transit to renew their contract. Part of the negotiations include increased bus service between campus and the Isabel Bader Centre, though Kingston Transit has already put a bus route from Kingston General Hospital to the Isabel that runs every 30 minutes. On Mondays through Fridays from 7-9:30 a.m. and 3-6:30 p.m., the bus will run every 15 minutes.

“We’re hoping through these negotiations we’ll actually increase the frequency in bus routes,” Reekie said.

Pop-up shops at Tricolour Outlet

Tricolour Management has taken a case study from Creo Solutions and started developing operational logistical components to see e-commerce implemented.

“Now we’re taking that and kind of developing what, at a micro level, we need to do in order to actually have this up effectively,” Reekie said.

He added that it’s a slow process, but when the details have been researched and developed, a trial run may occur.

AMS Advancement Officer

Williams said that the job description for this position is complete, thanks to support from the AMS Executive Director. They’ve looked to integrate this position with the mission of the University’s advancement office and how they can support the AMS position.

“We’re looking to hire this position in the spring so that they can be starting with all the other officers and hopefully, should the Reunion Street Festival be successful this year, they would be a key player in securing sponsorship for that, securing donors for that in coming years,” Williams said.

*** PILLAR 5 ***

Marketing street team and policy team

The marketing street team, which will be active this year, will undertake marketing research and implement focus groups, rather than just relying on surveys, to elicit student feedback.

“That will in turn allow us to ensure that every decision that we make is informed by the needs of Queen’s students,” Williams said.

Williams said the AMS had started to develop representational policy that was “fundamentally solutions-based” in its structure. The team hopes a designated policy team will implement the new approach in more areas, so that advocacy can go through a strong consultative process.

“Beyond that, it will also have a great depth of research integrated into it as well,” she said.

Job descriptions for these teams have been completed and hiring will begin this fall.

Executives meeting with faculty societies

Williams has started holding AMS presidents’ caucuses, where she meets with the faculty society presidents regularly, including over the summer, both individually and as a group, she said.

“Should they wish us to come to one of their assemblies, we’re happy to do so,” she added.

In their platform, the team said they would request to attend one meeting of every faculty and residence society in the fall.

Creation of the AMS morning show

“Hopefully people have seen the You, Me and Our AMS video that has been released twice over the course of the summer,” Lloyd said.

The team plans to release three more segments in the fall and another three in the winter.

“We’ve been happy with that, I don’t know what the viewers have been thinking,” he added.

“It’s a way to take our newsletter that’s been done in the past and breathe some new life into it.”

Non-platform initiatives

Municipal election

The Municipal Affairs Commissioner, Ariel Aguilar Gonzalez, is working to ensure that students know how to register to vote and why they should vote in the municipal election, which will take place on October 27, 2014. The Municipal Affairs Office is looking to launch an educational campaign which will target students at major fall events, such as the Sidewalk Sale and the Tricolour Open House.

Bikes and Boards

Bikes and Boards underwent its first fully operational summer and made almost as much in four months as it did during the 2013-14 school year.

TriSafety Services

The team will introduce a new marketing initiative that includes Student Constables, Queen’s First Aid and Walkhome, uniting the safety services on campus and allowing them to cross-promote.

The Underground

The management team went through a series of branding exercises and workshops this summer, embracing the idea that it’s a student-focused club. This year, it will be open on Thursday and Saturday nights for Throwback Thursday and the Bassment Party, and will run a birthday promotion where students can sign up for their birthday at the club and have their birthday there free of charge. The exact details of the birthday events are a surprise, according to the team, and they added that there will also be a joint initiative between the Underground and Common Ground this fall.

State of the Broader Learning Environment

The team is looking to put together a document similar to the State of the Union address that will go over what commissions have been working on and allow faculty societies to provide their reports. These will be consolidated into a document spread across the community, including responses to the Strategic Mandate Agreement recently signed by the University.

Budget response

The executive will create a budget submission for the shared services budgeting process, raising awareness around areas that students think should receive funding. Since this will be a tight year for the University because of pension payments for the solvency deficit, they want students to engage with the budgeting process.

JDUC Revitalization

The AMS brought in an architect to come in for a full-scale look at the JDUC, and identified several projects that the revitalization fund could go towards. They will put together several packages that total the fund and put those out for circulation and student feedback on what package they should secure, coming up in the fall.

Collective bargaining

The team will put together a student wish list for collective bargaining. Right after WRL leaves office, the University will enter collective bargaining with the faculty association, and the team is looking to highlight initiatives important to students such as teaching-focused faculty and the effect of the current pension plan.

Ancillary fees

Students are being charged fees that are not allowable under the Ministry of Colleges and Universities protocol. After an audit of all fees on campus, the AMS will work with administrators and students to make decisions on which fees must be immediately eliminated, which are on-side and which are in a grey area.

Office oversight

The executive has made the decision that the AMS Board of Directors will have oversight over their general office. This oversight is contingent upon Assembly approval, but has taken place over the summer and Williams thinks this adds transparency to the office, which includes officers, goal plans and budgets.

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