AMS’s seat at City council required, but only when they’re sure students care

The AMS’s involvement in the City of Kingston’s Uber debate exemplifies why students vote for representatives — to advocate for their needs, even if the way they advocate isn’t always perfect. 

At the end of September, a petition drafted by the AMS arrived in student inboxes, protesting the City’s efforts to push Uber out of Kingston. The executive team spoke on behalf of students at City council, arguing that Uber’s service is directly linked to ensuring student safety.

When City council discusses issues that directly impact the student body who make up tens of thousands of Kingston residents, student politicians deserve a seat and voice at the table.

However, although the AMS’s pre-written petition was a means to an end, it may be worth reconsidering this method of advocacy going forward. A tool that allows students to more actively voice their opinions — such as an online survey — rather than simply sign off on a document of the AMS’s words may be more fully representative of student concerns.

Unless it’s clear that the student body was consulted in forming the opinions of the letter, a petition isn’t the most effective tool to gauge whether or not students really care enough about Uber to have their representatives intervene in the first place.

That aside, the AMS’s actions in this case so far uphold the expectation that students have of their elected representatives to look out for them, regardless of whether or not Uber is the most pressing issue facing students.

Going forward, the AMS could benefit from considering which tools of advocacy best represent student opinions, especially for more urgent causes.

The AMS belongs at City council when we’re affected by Kingston’s affairs, but only if students are behind the issue at hand.

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