AMS Summer in Review

AMS Exec talk initiatives and plans for 2016-17 school year

Left to right: AMS President Tyler Lively, VP (University Affairs) Carolyn Thompson and VP (Operations) Dave Walker
Supplied by Bianca Balazic

As students flood Queen’s campus for yet another school year, they also fall under the wings of a new AMS student government. However, for President Tyler Lively, Vice President (Operations) Dave Walker and Vice President (University Affairs) Carolyn Thompson, work began in May.

On Sept. 13, The Journal sat down with Lively, Walker and Thompson (LWT) to catch up on the status of their original campaign platform, and the commitments they made during the January election.

“Our focus wasn’t really on doing these big flashy things,” Walker said of the team’s work over the past few months. “It was on tackling the nitty gritty things that need to done and for lack of a better word, the neglect for numerous years.”

Mac Brown Hall

One of their first completed actions as a team was an agreement made with the University, which exempted the AMS from having to pay all of the expenses for Mac-Brown Hall.

The building houses several AMS clubs, as well as the AMS Food Bank. Formerly, the student government was responsible for around $55,000 in expenses annually for the building.

The agreement will therefore allow these funds to be allocated to other programming within the AMS.

Skate Sharpening

The skate sharpening service at Bikes and Boards, a visible favourite platform point of Walker’s during the campaign, elicited enthusiasm as he reported to The Journal that the sharpener had now been purchased and was set to arrive next week.  

Student Wellness Services

When discussing student health, Thompson elaborated on the team’s platform point regarding determined advocacy, insisting the importance of data collection for Student Wellness Services.

An online survey has been launched, with promotion anticipated to begin on Monday, to improve not only the quantity of wellness services available, but the quality for individuals.

“We see our student population changing every year, and we need to make sure we are meeting their needs,” Thompson said. Once the service is properly marketed to students, she hopes that it makes a difference to those seeking health assistance on campus.

Sexual Violence

During LWT’s campaign, the team made a commitment to advocating for a sexual violence resource center. However, currently, such a centre is not included in the University’s plans for the new wellness centre.

Thompson, in discussing the matter, didn’t comment specifically on what the team intended to do in terms of advocating for a centre, but instead insisted that the administration is still committed to curbing sexual violence on campus.

“Making sure that sexual violence is consistently brought up with administration is something that we’re committed to doing as well,” she added.

The AMS Peer Support Centre is set to open up specific hours for survivors of sexual violence this year, with peer counsellors on-call at the time specifically trained to handle the topic of sexual violence.

Incoming students

Lively explained that the team had taken efforts to foster an inclusive atmosphere for incoming students, beginning with the content of this year’s frosh welcome packages.

“We wanted to really share our traditions with students before they came to campus,” he said.

What’s next?

For the next four months, the team said that they’re working towards a long term plan for the JDUC.

Currently, the $1.2 million renovation of the JDUC’s upper and lower ceiling has been completed. However, with some of the leftover funds the team is undergoing a consultation process to further develop student spaces, with hopes to bring those discussions public by the end of the semester.

“Hopefully, in the winter, we can finalize that plan, and really be in a position to hand things off to the next team,” Lively said.

Over the last few months, LWT has worked with members of Queen’s administration. When asked about their relationship, Lively responded that they’ve “taken an approach of trying to understand where the administration is coming from, before we say this is where we’re coming from.”

The team did admit that there would always be points of contention, where the AMS retained a different stance on larger issues than the administration.

“It’s really about getting information available to everyone and making sure that all students are on the same page and not sitting back and hiding details,” Walker said.

“No matter what the issue is, we’re not the only people who can have the input,” he said. “We’re here to learn from the students, because we are here to represent them, and it’s our job to listen to what they need. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters.”

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