First AMS ‘Student Advocacy Symposium’ taking place this weekend

Inaugural event aims to gather student feedback, inform future policies 

The symposium will be held this Sunday.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo
On Sunday, the AMS will host its first-ever Student Advocacy Symposium.
 
Aimed at facilitating dialogue between students and the Society, the event hopes to gather feedback on the AMS and how it can improve its policy-making in the future.
 
“This will be the first year of what we hope becomes a crucial symposium for the future of the AMS,” Society President Miguel Martinez told The Journal. “As the incoming Executive [team] transitions in, learns about their roles, and gets ready for day one, we wish to have this conference be used for the development of their strategic framework.”
 
The symposium consists of three main pillars including implementing ideas for the future, using data analysis, and direct consultation with students.
 
In the past, engagement with the AMS has stagnated. The Society has struggled with low numbers in voter turnout, with 30.1 per cent this past election season and only 25.6 per cent turnout in the recent JDUC referendum. 
 
Furthermore, in the last two years, Executive candidate turnout has suffered—with this year’s elected team hoping to address the issue during their term in the next academic year. 
 
A consultation model recently developed by the Ontario Ministry of Education inspired the event. 
 
Much like the Student Advocacy Symposium, the Ministry’s model was created to generate more feedback with students to inform future educational policies.
 
Chauntae De Gannes, the AMS’s marketing research manager, worked on the Minister’s Student Advisory Council, where she was exposed to the model.
 
After noticing a lack of consultation between the AMS and its student body, she petitioned to implement the same techniques used by the Ministry to achieve similar results.
 
“Through her role as Marketing Research Manager, [De Gannes] has set out to embrace non-traditional feedback styles to gather data and chart the future direction the AMS should take,” Rachael Heleniak, the AMS’s director of communications, told The Journal.
 
The symposium also incorporated a theme to encourage students from different communities to attend the event and voice their concerns.
 
The theme “Shaping the Future with Student Voices” is meant to signify the AMS’s intention to shape the Society’s future with the opinions and suggestions of the entire student body. At the event, students will have the opportunity to propose their own ideas for future policies as well as give feedback on existing ones. 
 
“The event will be a platform to bring students together to speak up about their concerns and how they want them to be addressed into the future. The goal is to have action items and deliverables that strategically shape how the AMS can better serve students,” De Gannes told The Journal in an interview. 
 
“By virtue of starting a dialogue with students from an upward approach, the symposium will allow students to set the agenda of what priorities need to be addressed on campus and in the AMS as a whole,” she added. 
 
Taking place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the JDUC on Mar. 10, the symposium will provide breakfast and lunch for attendees. Registration prior to the event is required.

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