AMS Special Assembly appoints 2018-19 executive team

Team MLM is ready to “listen to students and advocate on their behalf”

From left to right: AMS Vice-President (University Affairs) elect Munro Watters, President elect Miguel Martinez and Vice-President (Operations) elect Liam Tharp.

Following an unprecedented seven-hour-long AMS Assembly, Team MLM emerged as the AMS Executive-elects for the 2018-19 school year. 

Team MLM is comprised of Presidential candidate Miguel Martinez, ArtSci ‘19, Vice-Presidential (University Affairs) candidate Munro Watters, ArtSci ’19 and Vice-Presidential (Operations) candidate Liam Tharp, Sci ’19.  

President-elect Martinez expressed his gratitude to Assembly. He said he and his team “are ready to take this on.”

“We are ready to put the interests of the student body first … listen to students, and advocate on their behalf,” Martinez said. “I’m at a loss for words.”

The process involved a two-hour debate with a question period similar in length, all of which was live-streamed on the AMS Facebook page.

AMS transparency questioned

Before the three teams were introduced, issues concerning the transparency of the appointment process were brought to Assembly by Sci ’18 Representative Ryan Cattrysse. He specifically addressed the confiscation of personal electronic devices and the secret ballot set to occur following closing remarks as his main areas of concern. 

“I have a lot of constituents listening on the live stream to who I am responsible for,” Cattrysse said, addressing Assembly. “I would like to encourage we don’t have a secret ballot because what’s the point of being transparent if we do a secret vote after.”

AMS President Jennifer Li and Rector Cam Yung contested Cattrysse’s points, with Assembly with it being determined that a secret ballot, as it was against the rules of assembly, would need a rule exception to pass with a two-thirds majority. In the end it was decided to just have an open vote. All votes were signed and published to the AMS website. The confiscation of devices wasn’t overturned. 

“We ask assembly to take into account the urgency of the situation,” Li said. She added that the outlined procedure for the night “was intended to ensure a fair and transparent process, and to ensure a democratic process.” 

Following this, the Special Assembly introduced three competing teams: Teams MLM, ACS and TMZ. 

The three teams

MLM presented Presidential candidate Miguel Martinez, ArtSci ‘19, Vice-Presidential (University Affairs) candidate Munro Watters, ArtSci ’19 and Vice-Presidential (Operations) candidate Liam Tharp, Sci ‘19. 

Team ACS included Presidential candidate Aniqa Muzmunder, ArtSci ‘18, Vice-Presidential (University Affairs) candidate Chloe Demizio, ConEd ’19 and Vice-Presidential (Operations) candidate Sarah Hanson, ArtSci ‘19. 

The final team presented the youngest candidates of the group Team TMZ, including Presidential candidate Tyler Macintyre, Sci ‘20, Vice-Presidential (University Affairs) candidate Matt Le, PheKin ‘20, and Vice-Presidential (Operations) candidate Ziyu Horwitz, ArtSci ‘20. 

Headed by presidential candidate Martinez, Team MLM presented a strong portfolio of AMS and government-related experience. For Martinez, addressing mental health on campus and drinking culture was imperative. During their speeches, Tharp and Watters noted their desire to ensure equitable and accessible hiring processes and Orientation Week.

Team ACS brought forth an all-female executive team who hoped to advocate on behalf of all students before the administration. 

“We believe we can advocate for all students and are confident in that,” Presidential candidate Muzmunder told Assembly. They said they would produce a platform if appointed to ensure the team “had a guideline to follow” coming into office. A focus for the team was working to structure Orientation Week and increase mental health services. 

Finally, Team TMZ was built on a platform of five pillars: government transparency, student engagement, mental health services and accessibility, racial and gender equity, maintaining the sustainability of the AMS as well as student safety. 

“This election process has shown that there is a disconnect between the students and student government,” Macintyre said to Assembly. “There were multiple uncontested elections and that shows that there’s a huge disconnect between the students and what the government that’s representing them is doing.”

Questioning periods

During question period, Team MLM was asked about intersectionality and how they would ensure the term is understood in regards to student experiences, specifically those of LGTBQ+ persons. 

“It is important to recognize it is a buzzword. In my mind it means recognizing the ways we can break down barriers for people of all backgrounds,” Watters said. “Recognizing the victims of sexual assault in the LGBTQ community, the statistics are not the same.”

The team was also questioned about how they would go about closing an AMS service if financially necessary. 

“We have to look at the cost-benefit analysis of closing a service,” Tharp said. “We have to talk to the people running the services, ask ourselves why we are visiting them and understand the bottom line.”

For Team ACS, a focus on diversity and inclusion was apparent as the three candidates navigated through the question period. 

“I would like to acknowledge all the work being done by students that tends to not get recognized and I think moving forward, I’d really like to see an emphasis on the student work,” Muzmunder said when asked how the team intended to promote anti-racism on campus. “Students of colour know how to advocate for themselves and don’t need someone to speak for them.”

While the team didn’t propose a tangible solution, Hanson identified the most pressing issue facing the corporate side of the AMS as being the financial struggles of TAPS and The Underground.

Former Commissioner of Environmental Affairs Liam Dowling posed questions about sustainability to the candidates. 

“I believe we should be taking advantage of resources outside of the community,” Macintyre said. “We should be looking at what other universities and institutions have done and try to emulate them to the best of our ability.”

While unable to provide concrete responses to questions regarding finances at the University, Team TMZ demonstrated a commitment to ensuring student interests would be preserved at all times before the administration. 

“We are for the students here first,” Le said. “We must stand our ground.”

Deliberation by Assembly members

Following the candidates questioning period, a few members of Assembly commented on how they felt the votes should be cast.

ASUS President Jasmine Lagundzija said she thought “students are looking for a change from what we’ve seen over the years” in the AMS. She also reminded Assembly that “many of the questions thrown at these teams tonight would be difficult for many [members of Assembly] to answer.”

“It’s not going to be easy for any of these teams,” Lagundzija said. “I definitely think some of the teams showed experience that may be different from what we’ve seen in previous years … and represent the diversity of the University.”

According to AMS President Jennifer Li, only Teams TMZ and ACS consulted with the current executive prior to their intent to run.

Results

At approximately 2 a.m., AMS Secretary Neil Sengupta announced that Team MLM had won in a 33 to one vote.

But in th early hours of Friday morning, the results were mistakenly read from an incorrect line on the report which described the final result as being “33 to 1 on the fourth ballot.” In a Feb. 2 statement, the AMS explained the error and the true voting breakdown.

“As second-preference and third-preference votes were redistributed from both Team TMZ (Tyler Macintyre, Ziyu Horwitz, and Matt Le) and from none-of-the-above, the third and decisive ballot was deadlocked at 17 to 17, forcing Secretary and acting Assembly Speaker Neil Sengupta to cast the tie-breaking vote,” the statement read.

The voting system used by the AMS recommended that Team MLM be appointed given they received higher votes in earlier rounds of the ranked ballot. As such, Sengupta cast his vote for Team MLM, leaving the final vote at 18 to 17 for MLM. Each vote was signed by the member who cast it, and the open votes will be published on the AMS website at the society’s earliest availability.

At the time, Watters was estactic to win. 

“Thank you for staying up so extraordinarily late,” Watters said. “Thank you for asking me these questions that made me … want to be more engaged in student politics and wish for a better Queen’s community.”

“Palmer, Chelsea and I are impressed with the candidates that put themselves forward tonight, and I think there is a team that will lead the AMS forward and ensure that student interests are met,” current AMS President Jenn Li told The Journal following the results. “We look forward to the transition process, because it begins immediately, and I think there’s a lot to look forward to for the students in future.”

Corrections

All majors and years of graduation have been updated. 

An earlier version of this article stated that the AMS Assembly decided to vote using a secret ballot. This was incorrect, as written votes were all signed by members and will be published to the AMS website as soon as possible.

The article has been updated to state that their was no secret ballot in the election. 

The Journal regrets the error.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.