AMS Summer in Review

AJW talks platform progress

AMS executive talk their first four months in office
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

During the first four months of their term, the AMS executive—President Auston Pierce, Vice-President (Operations) Jessica Dahanayake, and Vice-President (University Affairs) William Greene—have been working on a number of campaign promises they established during their January campaign.

Following the announcement of the Student Choice Initiative (SCI) in January, a number of the team’s campaign promises became unfeasible due to a projected drop in the Society’s revenue.

While the executive have yet to release an official updated platform, a number of their platform pillars, like increasing campus sustainability and improving student engagement and AMS transparency, remain unaffected by the SCI.

The Journal sat down with the executive to talk about the Society’s priorities ahead of their platform’s release at the end of September.

Student engagement

The executive’s initial platform promised to improve student engagement, prompting the three to focus their work over the summer on raising awareness about the SCI. The team conducted consultations with faculty societies, published online content, and gave interviews to national media about the issue.

Club accessibility

On June 3, Greene told The Journal the Society would launch an online tool on the AMS website that would match student interests with relevant clubs. The program has now fully launched online.

Dahanayake added the Student Life Centre (SLC) and Peer Support Centre (PSC) are partnering up to host events that will cater to specific interests students might have.

Sexual violence

Though the executive didn’t address the issue of sexual violence on campus in their original platform, Greene said the Society will advocate for unreleased data from the Student Voices on Sexual Violence survey to better educate themselves on how to advocate for Queen’s students.

The AMS will also work with Queen’s Student Constables using funds from the Women’s Campus Safety grant to improve campus security.

Pierce added the Society hopes to improve education surrounding sexual violence among its own staff members so students are more comfortable bringing their concerns to them.

Sustainability

Improving campus sustainability was another campaign promise for the team. They hope to transition all non-biodegradable products to biodegradable ones within the Society.

“Currently, we are actually conducting our sustainability orientation review,” Greene said. “Right now, volunteers are at orientation events to fill out a form that will address waste, energy, food procurement and all sorts of categories for sustainability to start collecting data on the specific event and what their environmental impact is.”

According to Greene, the AMS is working with the sustainability offices to test whether Common Ground and TAPS’ products are biodegradable. By the end of September, the AMS will be hosting a sustainability waste audit with support from Physical Plant Services (PPS).

AMS transparency

Greene, Pierce, and Dahanayake emphasized accessibility and trust as an essential feature of their platform moving forward. “We’re trying to bring faith back to the AMS,” Pierce said.

“We really want people to come and talk to us,” Pierce said. “We can do a better job the more that we hear from students.”

The executive team listed more engagement with media, regular updates for students, and a revamped AMS website as primary strategies for increased transparency and accessibility.

Pierce added the executive would implement major changes to the AMS assembly system. These will include regular livestreams as well as opportunities for members at large to speak.

“In the past, it’s mostly just been elected representatives,” Pierce said. “We really want to bring students into the fold and give them an opportunity and a place where they’re comfortable to chat, raise concerns, and ask us questions.”

Greene added the AMS would also be re-introducing Indigenous representation. At the most recent Board of Directors meeting, the AMS established two council positions for a Council of Indigenous Initiatives.

Greene said those councillors would be responsible for consulting with various stakeholders throughout the University, including the administration and the Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre, to advocate for Indigenous representation and initiatives.

“Although we as the executive set the direction as to where we’re going, the direction that we’ve set is one of collaboration,” Pierce said. “Whether that be with our services, with clubs, or with individuals, that’s our approach.”

 

Corrections

This article falsely attributed a statement to Greene that was said by Dahanayake. This has been corrected.

The Journal regrets the error.

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