Recap: AMS executive candidates' debate

Team LWT and Team CSG answered questions regarding their platforms, promises and current AMS practices

Team LWT presidential candidate Tyler Lively speaks during the AMS executive debate on Thursday.
Team LWT presidential candidate Tyler Lively speaks during the AMS executive debate on Thursday.

While the first half of AMS Executive debate was relatively tame, the second period became more contentious as candidates disagreed on matters of the environment, pay scales and services.

During the Jan. 19 debate, which was held in Wallace Hall, Team LWT and Team CSG discussed issues as serious as sexual assault and non-academic discipline and lighter (and more contentious) topics like skate sharpening and panini presses.  

The Journal has compiled the most contested topics of the debate.

What is the most serious issue facing Queen’s students?
How can you increase opportunities for diverse students in the AMS?
Which of your platform points will cause the most friction with the Queen's administration?
What can be done to improve environmental sustainability at Queen’s?
What was the biggest achievement and failure of the AMS in recent years?

From left to right: Gregory Radisic, Colin Zarzour and Sarah Anderson. (Photo by Stephanie Nijhuis)

What is the most serious issue facing Queen’s students?

During the debate, Team LWT stated that increasing enrolment is the most pertinent issue facing students at Queen’s. Presidential candidate Tyler Lively, who answered the question, said issues of strained health services and cramped study spaces have become increasingly relevant as enrolment rises.

Enrolment is an issue that has to be addressed from a provincial standpoint, Lively added, and if elected the team is determined to advocate to the appropriate provincial bodies.

Team CSG agreed that enrolment was an issue, but presidential candidate Colin Zarzour said their concern was elevated to a level of “crisis” when it came to sexual violence on campus.

Zarzour said that both response and prevention of sexual violence are lacking, and the team plans on focusing their advocacy on the creation of a sexual assault centre on campus.

How can you increase opportunities for diverse students in the AMS?

Although both teams said they wish to diversify the AMS, they plan to do so using different means.

Team CSG’s Vice President (Operations) candidate Sarah Anderson began by stating that students wouldn’t involve themselves in an organization they didn’t care about, so combatting apathy towards the AMS was a priority. They believe that recruitment into the AMS was its most prominent difficulty.

Candidates from Team LWT said working for the AMS comes with long hours and difficult tasks, and creating an excitement about the work itself is crucial for attracting diverse talent.

Walker also said that working for the AMS provides students with job experience, which needs to be highlighted more strongly in order to attract candidates.

However, the point was raised in a question that the AMS salaries are among the lowest for student governments across Canada.

While LWT’s Vice President (Operations) candidate David Walker said experience was more important than the salary, CSG’s Anderson said they came from a privileged position, and that many students can’t afford an extra year’s worth of expenses on the current salaries for AMS salaried staff.  

From left to right: Carolyn Thompson, Tyler Lively and Dave Walker at the debate. (Photo by Stephanie Nijhuis)

Which of your platform points will cause the most friction with the Queen's administration?

Lively said the LWT platform point that would meet the most friction from the University would be the re-implementation of the mandatory Personal Statement of Experience (PSE).

He added that when the University administration has recently made a decision, it’s typically difficult to change their mind. However, Lively said the PSE carries a history of student leadership and the University is devaluing that talent by not making the PSE mandatory for applicants.

CSG, meanwhile, said they expect that their promise to extend the deadline for dropping classes would meet with the most resistance from the Queen’s administration.

Zarzour said it’s hard to change the status quo, but it’s unacceptable to penalize students for dropping a course when they only have five per cent of their mark back.

What can be done to improve environmental sustainability at Queen’s?

Team CSG wants to revisit the Queen’s Climate Action Plan, which was created in 2010 but never implemented. They also plan to re-instate the Energy Usage Committee through the Student Life Centre to ensure energy usage was more “green”, and improve the use of organics on campus.

Candidates then veered into more contentious debate after LWT’s Lively said his mother worked in environmental services and raised him to do the same.

CSG’s Radisic then asked why the issue wasn’t included in LWT’s platform if it was so important to Lively.

In response, Lively said questioning their commitment to the issue simply because they didn’t have a “laundry list” of promises was unfair, to which Zarzour replied, “Tyler, debate is healthy”.

LWT focused on the recently announced Honeywell audit and said that as the AMS executive they would take on the responsibility of involving students in the $10-million project.

Vice President (Operations) candidate David Walker said the SLC committee had only been disbanded because it “wasn’t going anywhere” in the first place.

What was the biggest achievement and failure of the AMS in recent years?

Team CSG applauded the AMS for establishing the ReUnion Street Festival held during Homecoming weekend.

Zarzour said the event brings together the Queen’s community and alumni while building a stronger relationship with the city and police. He added that it's a celebration of Homecoming in a controlled environment that maintains the fun of the night.

However, Team CSG said they felt the AMS hadn’t engaged in conversation regarding the non-academic misconduct review.

Meanwhile, Team LWT’s Lively praised the AMS’s success in successfully repealing the Kingston City Council’s decision to exclude students from electoral district counts in 2013.

Lively said the greatest failure of the AMS didn’t fall on any single executive team. Instead, he said it was the tendency for AMS executive teams to retreat into the JDUC and disconnect from the students they represent after winning an election.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.