AMS hopefuls: thou shalt not lie

Call student politicians out when they resort to pandering instead of talking about real issues

Kary implores AMS candidates to focus on issues of real importance rather than promises that will never come to fruition.
Kary implores AMS candidates to focus on issues of real importance rather than promises that will never come to fruition.

There’s a contest going on this week and it’s a contest of endurance between would-be student politicians and everyone else. Over the next week you’re going to be harassed, hustled and harangued by friends and strangers alike who will promise you the moon and ask for your vote.

As soon as the writ dropped we entered into a staring match with student politicians and they’re going to offer us all sorts of wonderfully absurd plans to make us blink.

But the more we let ourselves fall for these gimmicks, the less we focus on issues that really matter to students.

You’ve probably noticed them, those smiling ArtSci faces you’re sure you’ve seen around, but have never actually met. They’re vigorously shaking your hands and getting signatures. They’re ambushing you to show you some glossy picture of their team looking like they just dropped the whitest rap album of all time, and they’re talking loudly while they do it. If there’s anything good to be said for the current AMS executive, at least they didn’t give us a migraine this time last year.

No matter which iteration of the classic political formula “two white men plus one girl/minority if you can find one” an AMS team employs, they always fall back on the same trick: bullshit pandering and gimmicks. The policy seems to be, “when in doubt, appeal to people’s base emotions and make promises you can’t keep.”

In the last four years I’ve seen students get promised every washed up ruse under the sun. I’ve been promised free WiFi for houses near campus. I’ve been assured that the AMS exec would take every dollar spent over budget out of their salary, and that if I voted for a certain group they could fix SOLUS. I’ve even been promised that the AMS would build a literal bridge between the JDUC and CoGro, so that students wouldn’t have to go outside. No, I’m not joking.

These ideas were never going to happen. There was no money to build a bridge or give out free WiFi to hundreds of student houses. There still isn’t any money to do either of those things, or most of the other harebrained schemes somebody may tell you they can pull off.

When there’s enough money for some pandering program, it’s usually better spent on a real issue facing students instead. Candidates constantly make up issues to address as if they’re pressing public concerns instead of doing their jobs. Things like having skate sharpening at Bikes and Boards, or “Enhancing Dining Experiences” with craft beer instead of affordable meals don’t deserve more or equal attention than the staggeringly high number of sexual assaults occurring on campus each term.

These are platform points designed to distract you from what the conversation is supposed to be about: making Queen’s a better place for everyone. I recently had someone tell me they felt unwelcome at Queen’s because they’re black. Instead of talking about that we’re going to fill the debate with non-issues that grab attention and play to people’s emotions, promising them luxuries instead of necessities?

Together, let’s make a pledge not to get used to bolster some schmuck’s resume this year. Running for AMS exec should be hard. These are positions that control a ton of student money and services we rely on. There’s no reason we should accept anything less than the best candidates willing to tell us the truth and use our money responsibly.

Don’t make it easy for them by sitting back and accepting a flashy lie. Queen’s needs a progressive student government that focuses on actively solving problems facing our community. Every time we let candidates talk about bridges or beer or skates, we’re actively not talking about issues that affect the lives of our fellow students.

Next time some yes-man in a tie stops you in the ARC, give them hell. Demand the numbers. Check the facts. Tell them when you know they’re lying. Make them squirm a little, and then make them do better. We deserve progress.

Sam Kary is a fifth-year Political Studies student.

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