AMS Assembly begins with discussion on Fall Term Break

Nov. 3 meeting discusses Fall Term Break and policy amendments

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Kicking off the Nov. 3 meeting of AMS Assembly, Secretary of the University, Lon Knox, and Deputy Provost, Teri Shearer, facilitated a discussion with student leaders on Fall Term Break.

The speakers posed questions about when a break should fall, as well as asking students to rank the order of importance between fall term breaks, orientation activities and pre-exam study days.

The consensus from a majority of student leaders was that a Fall Term Break wasn’t desired, particularly from Engineering and Commerce, the latter of which already has a natural break for its first and second years according to Commerce Society President Bhavik Vyas.

Many student leaders noted that a break, if necessary, could simply add an extra day to Thanksgiving weekend. Nursing Society President Alexandra Palmeri asked the speakers to analyze data for when students were seeking the most mental health supports, and choose their dates based on that.

Ratification

The meeting included motions to ratify 26 new clubs for the fall semester, after over 30 new clubs applied. The motion passed without opposition.

Policy Amendments

To begin the evening of predominantly policy amendments, AMS Human Resources Director, Emma Jones, moved to remove all AMS policy pertaining to harassment and discrimination that has since been covered by the introduction of the AMS Harassment and Discrimination Policy.

The AMS Harassment and Discrimination Policy was approved at Assembly on Sept. 22.

Other motions to amend were made to budgetary documents, to align policy with current practices and remove “unnecessarily prescriptive” policy for matters under Board jurisdiction
 – some examples include minor changes in diction.

One major change included the striking of a section regarding the approval and nondisclosure of total budgeted amounts allocated for full-time employees. These amounts include base salaries, projected salary increases and employment benefits.

All of these motions passed without opposition.

Non-Academic Misconduct

When Jones and AMS President Tyler Lively moved to change the current policies around the Judicial Affairs Office, several student leaders raised questions. The subject was the most debated motion of the evening.

The changes included the proposal that the outgoing Judicial Affairs Manager would be removed from the hiring panel for the incoming manager to standardize hiring processes across the AMS.

As well, previously the process for removing the manager from their role required that there be a vote at assembly, a process unlike any other role in the AMS that was specific to this position. Under the new process, the AMS executive could remove the manager. The motion also proposed that, instead of a judicial deputy filling the manager role in case of their termination, the AMS may select a candidate.

Rector Cam Yung and ASUS Representative Carling Counter both raised multiple questions on the subject, with the former asking to ensure the autonomy of the Judicial Affairs Office was kept when the motion is later taken to the AMS Board for review.

Jones’ motion noted that due to the new Non-Academic Misconduct (NAM) Agency Agreement with the University, “we need to be able to, in a worst case scenario, replace Judicial Affairs staff,” using the example of breaches to the harassment and discrimination policy.

Current Judicial Affairs Manager Ryan Pistorius weighed in as “the guy affected by the policy change”, noting that with the University’s new Agency Agreement, the administration must hold control over administers of the various offices of the NAM system, which the AMS Judical Affairs office falls under.  

He noted his faith in Vice President (University Affairs) Carolyn Thompson, whom he said assured him that provisions would be later added by the Board after the assembly approved the amendment.

Thompson and Academic Affairs Commissioner Leah Brockie were both at the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance in London, Ontario, and therefore unable to comment. The motion passed with two members opposed.

Hiring Practices

Key changes were proposed for the Hiring and Appointment Policy and Procedures Manual, including the addition of a definitions section, deletions to “redundant or unachievable” policy, and the extension of a lottery system for volunteer positions.

Other amendments were made to Students for Sustainability committee policies to reflect last year’s changes to roles and responsibilities within the Commission of Environmental Affairs.

These motions passed without opposition.

Assembly Report Summary

Executive Reports

President Tyler Lively noted the AMS’ attendance at the Kingston Taxi Commission meeting following the executive’s petition on keeping Uber in Kingston.

“I fear that despite our protest the Taxi Commission is proceeding to regulate Uber in a way that does not align with best practices in other regions,” he wrote, referencing regulations in Ottawa, Niagara, Toronto and Edmonton.

Until the Commission’s legal counsel drafts their regulations for Kingston, the debate is on hiatus. Along with the note on Uber, Lively announced the overhaul of the AMS Hiring and Appointments Policy and the addition of a new and as yet unnamed AMS permanent staff member to replace Greg McKellar

In her report, Vice President (University Affairs) Carolyn Thompson noted a recent Journal article on the Canadian Federation of Students, where a Queen’s Socialist member questioned the AMS’ involvement with the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance.

“I want to make very clear that OUSA has been focused on making post-secondary education more accessible to all students,” she wrote, noting advocacy for tuition freezes and increased tuition set-asides.

Other AMS reports

Leah Brockie, academic affairs commissioner, wrote in her report that work has begun on a policy brief to address inconsistencies between appeal fees, such as those to appeal grades or re-write exams.

In the Faculty of Arts and Science, students are charged $50 to submit an appeal, which is not reimbursed for successful appeals in the same way it would be in Engineering or Commerce.

“In Engineering, however, there are astronomical fees to re-write exams, obtain different forms of documentation,” she wrote.

Campus Activities Commissioner Greg Kurcin noted a recent success in establishing an agreement between the AMS and the Isabel Bader Centre to allow students to rent the space for free. 

Judicial Affairs Manager Ryan Pistorius noted that since the NAM Agency Agreement was signed, the office received the same number of cases as their office received in the first semester of last year.

“This is obviously much better than it was under last year’s Interim Protocol, but it is still far down from years prior, and there is much work to be done in proving to the administration that we can be trusted with serious cases,” he wrote.

Social Issues Commissioner Lea Keren gave an update on the student ICOUNT equity census, which is open for student responses, and the Vice-Pricipal’s Operations Committee approving a policy and guidelines for collecting information on sex and gender in surveys.

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