AMS executive fall semester in review

The CBW (CBL) team discusses their original platform points, and explain the status of each initative

Kyle Beaudry (left) and Kanivanan Chinniah (right) stand on either side of Sarah Letersky (middle) following the announcement of her appointment as Vice-President (University Affairs) on Aug. 26.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

This semester hasn’t been all “sunshine and apple pie,” AMS President Kanivanan Chinniah said, but he says he and his team have done their best to play with the cards they were dealt.

His team — which also includes Vice President (Operations) Kyle Beaudry and the Vice President (University Affairs) Sarah Letersky — say they believe they’ve done all they can to focus on making life better for students today and tomorrow.

Although there has been some controversy along the way — a number of resignations and a nullified referendum — the AMS executive have completed a number of goals set out by their platform, including increased seating at Common Ground, a successful ReUnion St. Festival and a new scramble crossing on campus.

The Journal caught up with the executive — excluding Sarah Letersky, who was out of town — to see how their other initiatives are coming along.

(For the AMS executive summer review click here)

Platform points:

Enhancing value to student cards

While other schools can use their student cards to pay for cabs or restaurants downtown, Queen’s student cards can’t even be used at AMS services.

However, enhancing the usability of the student card — which was part of the executive’s platform — may take longer than they expected, Beaudry said.

Beaudry said while discussions with Bruce Griffiths, the executive director of Housing and Ancillary Services, have been positive, the project will likely need another year to be finalized.

The AMS has discussed two possible options, according to Beaudry: one where students can use their cards for AMS services and the other where students could use their cards at downtown retailers — the later being more difficult.

Beaudry says he’s hopeful that the project will eventually be implemented, but said the onus will essentially fall on the following executive team to continue the conversation.

Budget accountability

This year, one of Beaudry’s goals was to complete their budget earlier than usual to allow the approval process to start before the start of the school year.

Most recently, the budget was passed at the AMS Board of Director’s fall Corporate Special General Meeting (CSPM) on Nov. 10.

Since then, the executive say they’ve made a special effort to advertise the budget’s publication to students.

Beaudry said he encourages students to take a look at it and follow up with any inquires they have about it.

In current budget, the Print & Copy Centre and Tricolour Outlet are projected to perform worse than they did last year.  However, Beaudry says these trends don’t worry him.

“It’s important to make sure we’re looking at it in terms of the entire picture, so that’s one service out of the eight that are consolidated together. So while that one may be at a deficit, on the whole there’s other corporate services that are earning a surplus so the intent is to have it even out,” he said.

S.M.A.R.T and Studio Q, on the other hand, are projected to perform better than in previous years. 

Bus routes 

The executive reported that they’ve had positive feedback from city transit and will continue to discuss options to get more value from the student Bus-It fee. 

Beaudry says they’ve been looking at extending two routes — route 17 and 18 — which run through the University District.

They expect decisions on the routes to be made in January.

 

Non-platform initiatives:

Student fees

Though the subject of student fees and their allocations weren’t part of the executive’s platform, it falls under the key theme of monetary accountability. 

A major point brought up by Beaudry was the unclear designation of what could be a mandatory fee and what could be opted out of. 

“The policy didn’t, in our eyes, clearly delineate why something should be mandatory and paid for by all 16,000 students on campus, or optional and students should have a choice,” he said. 

Following a Nov. 19 AMS Assembly, a new definition for mandatory fees was passed in a motion ensuring that any mandatory fee is a primary service essential for the student body.

Following the theme of accountability to students, the option to bring a student fee to the Annual General Meeting (AGM) — andhave it voted upon by a small group of individuals — has been erased. 

Moving forward, all non-mandatory opt-out fees will be voted upon solely via referenda available to the entire Queen’s student body. 

There’s been a history of technical issues in referenda, with at least two occurring since 2011, but Chinniah said they’re committed to making them work. 

“We do want to make the referendum work. We don’t anticipate any further problems,” he said.

Health services

The executive reported that they’ve been in consultation with the University and Student Wellness Services (SWS) to extend service hours.

Earlier in the semester the SWS conducted a survey to gather data on student satisfaction, which received 500 responses. 

Beaudry said the survey revealed that many students wanted extended hours.

The executive hope to finalize a schedule that would have SWS extend hours of operation to 7:30 p.m. on weekdays. They say they hope to see a solution by next September.

AMS bursary program

The exec plans to pilot a new bursary program for students in need of financial assistance and want to participate in various AMS ratified clubs or conferences. 

The project will be discussed at the upcoming assembly meeting on Dec. 3 and will be run through the AMS Clubs Office.

JDUC revitalization

The JDUC revitalization project, a project long deferred by previous AMS executives, will soon break ground. 

The project has already begun with work on gender-neutral washrooms over the past month, but the majority of the $1.2 million project will begin at the beginning of next semester. 

Chinniah also said the executive have discussed a long-term plan for the JDUC with University administration. 

“The Provost has generously agreed to start a conversation regarding the framework for the development of the JDUC at the same time we are developing the 667 Union St. project, which is the physical education centre,” he said. 

He said he hopes that by the end of academic year, there will be a long-term framework that consolidates the expectations from the AMS, students and the University for the JDUC. 

Chinniah said details regarding the long-term plan will be announced soon. 

Review of AMS director and commissioner positions

Following a string of resignations over the past few months, the AMS executive is taking the opportunity to review the roles and responsibilities of its director and commissioner positions.

Beaudry told The Journal that they’ve established a set of criteria for the reviews, which will be finalized by December — just in time for elections and hiring in January.

The main goal, he said, is to make sure each individual and role is being used effectively to fulfill their mandate.

Although the review wasn’t on their original platform, the exec said it fits in with the theme of financial accountability.

Fall Reading Week

The AMS hosted two town hall meetings on Nov. 9 and Nov. 16 to discuss the potential implementation of a Fall Reading Week. 

The debate resurfaced after numerous faculty and student-run societies expressed concerns about student mental health during the fall semester.

The exec said it’s an issue they’ve been looking into, but they want to make sure that any decision made is the right solution to the problem.

“We are continuing to talk to experts in the field to make sure we have the right action,” Chinnah said.

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