Dec. 1 AMS Assembly recap

Policies around sustainability and judicial affairs discussed between debate on Fall Term Break and campus diversity

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During a contentious three-hour meeting of AMS assembly, which included a debate over altering the restrictions placed on Speaker Palmer Lockridge, several other new policies were discussed.

Sustainability Policy

Commissioner of the Environment Liam Dowling presented his new policy and procedures manual with regards to sustainability and green-centric initiatives, however tabled the original plan to approve the policy to give members time to consider it and provide feedback.

Prior to the drafted policy, he noted, the AMS had only three lines of environmental protocols, which outlined printer use and bottled water. The new document factors in the University’s current work, other institutions’ initiatives and the current practices and limitations of the AMS.

“Everything you see in the document is feasible within our current practices,” he said. Student Senator Brandon Jamieson inquired who would be regulating these new policies, to which Dowling responded that “it’s not necessarily the commission’s role,” leaving the onus on supervisors and Assembly to hold groups to account.

Judicial Affairs

Following an alteration to the hiring and removal of the Judicial Affairs Manager by Assembly on Nov. 3, a new motion was brought to the Dec. 1 Assembly to further amend judicial policy.

Among details, the amendments clarified the role of the AMS Judicial Affairs Office (JAO) as the “representative of complainants”. More direct references were added to the new Code of Conduct.

The amendment lays out the JAO’s jurisdiction over any cases assigned to them, and removes references to the now-dissolved Senate Committee on Non-Academic Discipline.

New policy was also added to allow the Judicial Committee Chair’s power to open a hearing for the sake of public interest, even when the parties may not request such a decision, “in service of transparency and the public good.”

Most notably, a policy guaranteeing the independence of the JAO was passed in response to the altering of the removal policies in November. The motion passed with no abstentions.

Elections

Secretariat Miguel Martinez noted several details of the upcoming January elections to Assembly members, including the limitations on their ability to support certain teams.

No faculty society representatives can campaign for individuals or teams, though they are permitted to post social media or act as campaign managers so long as it’s not linked to their position.

Any current member of AMS assembly planning to run in the election must take a leave of absence from Assembly, he reminded, and it’s strongly recommended that they take a leave from faculty societies as well.

The All-Candidates meeting was moved from Jan. 9 to Jan. 10, with the AMS Executive Debate taking place on Jan. 24. and the Student Trustee debate on Jan. 26.

The spending limit per team will remain the same as previous years, at $800 of reimbursable funds. During a brief period of questions, Vice President (Operations) Dave Walker noted that LWT had spent $760 comfortably during their own election cycle.

Student death

Halting Assembly briefly, Martinez delivered an emotional tribute to second-year Queen’s student Rachel Zhang, who died in a motor vehicle accident on Nov. 18.

“When you go home, make sure you hold your loved ones close to you and your friends close to you, because you never know the time you have,” he said, before requesting members stand for a silent moment together for her memory.

Fall Term Break

AMS President Tyler Lively began a discussion on the potential Fall Term Break and its task force by sharing information collected in a university-wide survey. “They didn’t tell me not to,” he said with a shrug.

Students had ranked, in order of importance, Orientation Week, then a Fall Term Break, then pre-exam study days. 42 per cent wanted a break close to Thanksgiving weekend, 31 per cent in late October and 26.5 per cent in early November, Lively said. 

However, he said, many students ranking Orientation Week as especially important chose the Thanksgiving time period because of a previous discussion to put an extra day on that weekend and limit the break to an extra 24 hours versus a whole week.

In Assembly's discussion, Lively aimed to narrow down the proposal to one cohesive plan to take it to a plebiscite in January and measure student support before approaching the Senate as a united student voice.

Engineering Society Vice President Evan Dressel expressed his concern that “if our concerns are true that they’re not concerned about the students, and they care about the money, they may shove this off and go with whatever plan they had.”

To combat this, he suggested they have multiple plans fitting into Senate’s constraints. Jamieson expressed his concerns that this would leave the student body appearing fractured. The possibility of a referendum was discussed, to no concrete result.

Several previously-raised issues and niche details were hashed out, including the ramifications of potentially moving move-in day back by 24 hours on Aboriginal students — who already move in a day early — and on mental health services which would be required earlier and throughout the planned break.

Vice President (University Affairs) Carolyn Thompson brought the discussion to a close, with the suggestion to vote on a united plan during the next meeting of Assembly.

Racial Diversity

As Assembly immediately followed the AMS’s open forum on race and diversity, the topic was raised by ASUS representative Carling Counter, sparking a lengthy discussion period at the end of the night.

“Where do we go from here?” Rector Cam Yung posed to the group, asking where AMS practices and policies specifically and tangibly could address issues of diversity on campus.

Pistorius noted that while the new Code of Conduct recognizes harassment or discrimination, it lays out instances directed towards one person versus in more “abstract” situations of racism or sexism.

Dressel proposed a better overview of how students can report discrimination or harassment by a professor or teaching assistant. “If they can say where the fire drill escapes are, and what the syllabus is, it’s not a stretch to say how to report discrimination,” he said.

Yung highlighted the positive impact of campus-wide education and coordination with the administration to acknowledge past histories. Nursing Society President Alexandra Palmeri said that students need to be better prepared to address issues of diversity they may witness.

Computing Society President Aniqah Mair pointed out the unconscious attitudes of many individuals perpetrating racist acts.

“We all do good and bad things. It’s not black and white. I think the first step is to understand that. We’ve probably all done racist things, we do racist things all the time, and that doesn’t mean we’re bad people. We have to understand that this is something we do, and learn how to get better,” she said.

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