Facing significant revenue loss, the AMS restructures

Municipal, Academic Affairs Commission combined following changes

Incoming executive team observes Emergency Assembly on Feb. 7.
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Ontario’s student unions are cutting operation costs after the Ford government announced major changes to university finances last month. Announcing its new structure on Monday, the AMS wasn’t immune.

“We needed to focus on things that were going directly to students,” Society President Miguel Martinez said in an interview with The Journal regarding the changes. “We focused on perception surveys, we focused on cost mitigation followed by the financial impact to the AMS and ensuring we can still be financially sustainable.”

The President will now oversee the Secretary of Internal Affairs, a position Martinez said was modeled after what used to be known as the Commission of Internal Affairs.

This new position will be responsible for the elections team, the Assembly speaker and scribe, and the judicial committee and affairs office.

“This also allows the judicial affairs office to remain more at an arm’s length from the executive while falling into a portfolio that reports to the executive, the board of directors, and Assembly,” Martinez said.

He added this will allow more autonomy for the judicial affairs office.

The Vice-President (University Affairs) will now head three commissions—social issues, campus activities, and external advocacy—as well as the clubs office. The Commission of External Advocacy will include the housing resource centre and community service agents, combining the municipal and academic affairs commissions.

Martinez cited this as one of the Society’s biggest changes.

“One of the things that we’ve seen over the last few years is there’s a great deal of overlap between the two commissions,” he said. “By reducing a significant amount of the committees that used to be under both of these commissions, that maybe weren’t pointing directly to students, we can focus on keeping as [many] of those relationships with the city and with the province the same while reducing our personnel costs.”

According to Martinez, this overlap between committees and programming is one of the areas the Society looked at while making the restructuring decisions.

“Unfortunately, we’re not in a place to double services or double programming if they’re already being provided elsewhere,” he said.

He maintained the Society wants “to keep as many employment opportunities” as possible and day-to-day programming won’t be heavily affected.

“However, programming throughout the school year is likely to be more affected,” he said.

Martinez cited the Society’s Feb. 7 emergency Assembly as one of the ways the Board of Directors was informed about which areas of the Society hold social value for students.

He said several students at large sent their thoughts and questions to Mikela Page, chair of the board of directors, following the Assembly. He added, however, only Sagal Sharma, Arts and Science Undergraduate Society president, sent a report to Page detailing her concerns and recommendations to the Board.

At the Assembly, Martinez repeatedly stated the Society would make some mistakes during the restructuring process. 

He told The Journal he stands by those statements.

“Mistakes are definitely a possibility with the Board and with our current executive team,” he said before adding the Society is “comfortable and confident” with its decisions.

“Unfortunately, if mistakes did happen, it’s not something we’re going to see for another year,” he said. “There’s always a chance to revisit decisions and undo what’s been done.”

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