Lacking detailed proposals, Team AJA lays out vision for AMS top job

Uncontested candidates yet to release full platform  

From left to right: Vice-Presidential (Operations) candidate Alex Samoyloff, Presidential candidate Jared Den Otter, Vice-Presidential (University Affairs) candidate Alexia Henriques.

The AMS executive election will be uncontested for the third consecutive year.

Presidential candidate Jared Den Otter (PHE ’20), Vice-Presidential (Operations) candidate Alex Samoyloff (ArtSci ’20), and Vice-President (University Affairs) candidate Alexia Henriques (PHE ’20) form Team AJA, the only team running to be the 2020-21 AMS executives. 

With the slogan, “We’re with you,” the team said they were brought together by their passion for student government and engagement.

Team AJA released their initial platform points on Jan. 20. At the time The Journal interviewed the team on Jan. 17, they had yet to start consultations with students.

“The platform is based on gaps we’ve seen during our lived experiences on and off campus,” Henriques said.

Samoyloff added they drafted their platform after “reflecting back on my previous four years at Queen’s, including what has and has not worked with previous AMS Executives, what’s missing on campus, what we can improve on, and being very aware with the current state of Queen’s.”

Den Otter is currently the president of PHEKSA and works at Clark Hall Pub. He’s also involved with Queen’s Happy Soul Project Club and Queen’s For The Boys. 

Henriques is currently the Campus Activities Commissioner within the AMS and is involved in Queen’s Model Parliament. 

Samoyloff currently works as the ASUS community outreach commissioner. 

“I’m lucky to be able to have worked on my leadership skills these past four years,” Den Otter said. “I’m hoping that I can bring a confident voice, strong opinion, and an open mind to the table for me personally.”

When asked about what makes them the best people for the job of AMS executive, Den Otter said he’s confident in their abilities.

“We are very prepared,” he said.

Samoyloff said she wants to bring all students the feeling of home she experiences at Queen’s. She also plans to make sure all AMS services are benefitting students and providing them with jobs.

While all three candidates have some management experience, carrying leadership roles and responsibilities, Henriques is the only person who has direct experience working in the AMS.

The AMS executive is responsible for managing a multi-million dollar annual budget. Samoyloff said she has a lot of budgeting experience. 

“Much like the other societies on campus, this year I had to focus on where we had to budget 30 per cent, cut 60 per cent, and a 75 per cent cut in our budgets [due to the Student Choice Initiative (SCI)],” she said. “That in itself was something that was a really interesting learning opportunity, to be able to prioritize funds.” 

Similarly, with the current SCI appeal, Team AJA said they will see what unfolds and deal with it as it comes. 

“There’s not much else to really say about the Student Choice Initiative, because it is so uncertain,” Den Otter said.

Henriques told The Journal about her experience working in the AMS throughout the SCI. “I’ve learned best practices from [the current AMS Executive],” she said. “Our budget will be conservative and smart about spending student dollars.”

Considering this is the third consecutive year the team is running uncontested, Den Otter said the team will rely on consultations to inspire their strategy for increasing student engagement. 

“I think that we’re very excited to see what we can do during our consultation period to figure what our students are looking for,” he said. 

“I think, at least I would really hope, that our passion and our presence, if elected, will inspire people to get engaged,” Samoyloff added. “The amount of student engagement when policies are known is inspiring. We would like to make issues known to students and actively hear them out.”

To mark the success of their term, Den Otter and Henriques agreed that connecting with students will be the metric of the team’s success.

“We will put 101 per cent effort towards reaching out to as many students as possible,” Den Otter said. “It will be a success if every student on campus feels we have reached out to them and made an effort to advocate for them.”

Samoyloff focused on her own values as a metric of success. “I practice and lead with empathy,” she said. “A big success will be if I continue to hold my core values.”

In responding to questions about the 2018 Student Voices on Sexual Violence Survey, mental health advocacy, sustainability, AMS divestment, the Student Choice Initiative, and any key changes they want to usher in next year, Team AJA declined to answer, directing The Journal to their platform, which was partly released on Monday. The full release will come on Jan. 24, halfway through the campaign period.

Team AJA said they’re looking forward to continuing much of the work the AMS has been involved with over the past few years, including healthy relationships with the administration and AMS presence on campus.

“Every year, there is a lot more face-to-face communication with the AMS exec,” Samoyloff said. “I really admire how much work the [executives] have been putting in to be present on campus.”

Henriques agreed with Samoyloff’s positivity about the trajectory of the AMS since the two started at Queen’s. “I can’t say I would have done anything differently,” she said.

Henriques drew attention to the fact that Team AJA, like their constituency, are students, in response to a question about how the team plans to regain lost student trust in the AMS.

“The AMS is student-run,” she said. “We’re all peers. We are students who happen to be leaders, who care and are passionate about student life and engagement.”

Team AJA is excited about what the future holds. “We are so excited to reach out to students and make sure their voices are heard,” Den Otter said.

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