AMS summer in review

Team JCP provides project updates, looks forward to year ahead

AMS Executive Team JCP: Chelsea Hollidge (left), Palmer Lockridge (center), Jennifer Li (right).

With the newly appointed Vice-President (Operations) Chelsea Hollidge on board, AMS executive Team JCP is gearing up for the start of the school year. The team is entering the year with significant progress made on some of their platform points, while others have proven more difficult to advance.

“One thing we realized is that the staff we have do a lot of incredible work, and all of these things that we’ve said would not be possible without the team that we have around us,” President Jenn Li told The Journal. “They deserve a lot of the recognition.”

New Vice-President (Operations) appointed

On August 16, the executive team announced via a statement on their website the resignation of former Vice-President (Operations) Brian MacKay, attributing his leave to “personal reasons.”

“This has been a difficult decision and one that I have not made lightly,” MacKay wrote in the statement. 

As per the AMS Constitution, Li and Lockridge maintained the authority to appoint a replacement subject to Assembly approval. In their statement, they said they would nominate a new Vice-President (Operations) in a matter of days.

MacKay’s replacement — former Director of Media Services Chelsea Hollidge — was announced August 28. Hollidge assumed her executive responsibilities right away and will be officially ratified at AMS Assembly on September 21.

Online booking system at Student Wellness Services

One platform point that Li recalls being “very vocal” about during their campaign has already been completed. When the new home of Student Wellness Services (SWS) — the Queen’s Innovation and Wellness Centre — opening in the spring of 2018, students will also see the launch of an online appointment booking system.

“The Innovation and Wellness Centre will have new facilities for SWS and an online system for booking will be implemented at the same time as the launch,” Li said.

During their campaign, the executive advocated for this system because it helped to reduce barriers for students seeking counseling and other health services that may be stigmatized. 

According to Li, the team will be working with SWS to see if a soft launch can be piloted earlier in the year to receive student feedback.

Student constable bursary

Vice-President (University Affairs) Palmer Lockridge worked with the clubs office to introduce the new student constable (stucon) bursary, which will be available to students starting this fall.

Lockridge said during their election period the executive heard that the cost of stucons was a real barrier for clubs holding events both on and off campus.

According to Lockridge, one stucon can cost a club up to $12, with these fees often limiting clubs from holding large events.

To offset these costs, the stucon bursary totals $10,000. Any club going through the event sanctioning process is eligible to apply for a portion of it to use towards their event.

Increased health coverage for counseling

As per a specific goal in their platform, the executive team has managed to increase student health coverage from 60 to 80 per cent for counseling services specifically.

“Every student that opts in [to the Queen’s health plan] will be able to access not just Student Wellness Services, but they also have that increased coverage to go off into the community resources,” Li said.

Earlier availability of exam schedules

“That one is proving a bit harder to move forward on than we had suspected,” Lockridge said when speaking about the team’s plan to make exam schedules available to students earlier.

Lockridge cited the University of Guelph as a model, since their final exam dates are visible when students enroll in courses during the summer.

Going forward, Team JCP is continuing to have conversations with the University Registrar about the exam scheduling process and how Queen’s compares to other universities.

“I don’t think it’s going to be realistic for us to change it to be like Guelph,” Lockridge said. “[But] even if we can move it up to [the] second week of classes to give students a little bit more predictability, I still think it’s a step that we want to take forwards.”

Indigenize name of a space in the Student Life Centre

According to Li, the Student Life Centre (SLC) Managing Director Katherine Kennedy and the AMS Commissioner of Social Issues Ramna Safeer are collaborating with the Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre to decide on a space to rename and indigenize.

“[We want] to make sure that the naming opportunity is appropriate, that there is student feedback, and that the space can be recognized in a way that is meaningful,” Li said.

Li said the rooms on the second floor of the Queen’s Centre are being looked at as candidates in particular.

Physical changes to the services

The Peer Support Centre (PSC) saw significant increases in staff and space this summer. 

“We’re up to almost 100 volunteers from years before when it was around 60,” Lockridge said. “That’s a result of moving into new spaces.”

The PSC no longer shares space with the Academic Grievance Centre and Housing Resource Centre. The service now has two dedicated peer spaces as opposed to one, as well as an office space in the JDUC for their head managers.

“Over the past two years, we’ve seen a massive increase in the amount of students accessing the Peer Support Centre, and we’re hoping that having the two spaces open at the same time is going to mean we can serve more students,” Lockridge said.

In addition, Hollidge noted that Common Ground was approved for a new espresso machine, Studio Q has been approved for five new computers and TAPS will be receiving new TVs for QP.

Furthermore, physical changes have been made to the layout of Tricolour Outlet and The Underground, and a similar change will be in the works for the P&CC throughout this year.

Long-term strategic projects

“One of the biggest [long-term projects] is the conversation around student life space and the JDUC,” Li said. “This building is not accessible… it does not work for the current student body and will not work for future students that come to campus as well.”

Li says conversations with the university regarding the redevelopment of the JDUC are ongoing. Beginning this fall, the executive will be seeking out feedback on what sort of changes students would like to see.

In comparison to other Ontario universities who have a modern student life, Li said they aren’t “inaccessible and old and falling apart,” like the JDUC.

“JDUC is near and dear to our hearts, but we want to make sure that it’s in the hearts of all the students, and that it’s reflective of their needs in a modern student body.”

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