Rector candidate hopes to rebrand position

Inspired by climate rally, Sam Hiemstra hopes to be student liaison

Rector candidate Sam Hiemstra.

Rector candidate Sam Hiemstra, ArtSci ’21, is the sole person vying for the position this year. It’s the first time in at least 20 years the position hasn’t been contested.

“The big over-the-cliff moment for me was the climate change rally that we had this year,” he said in an interview with The Journal. “It was so incredible to watch the sheer amount of students just speaking up for what they believed in. I was thinking to myself, we need someone who can take that to the Administration and say what’s happening here? Why haven’t we been doing something?”

Hiemstra said he’s seen many barriers faced by students, and seeks to bridge the gap between students, the Administration, and the City of Kingston.

“As students of this university, we pay tuition, we pay student fees, and I think they should be represented in the actual action and actual student voices being heard,” he said.

Hiemstra, who has experience in Queen’s Model Parliament, currently serves as the President of the Queen’s International Affairs Association (QIAA). He has also been involved in The Observer’s Right of Reply podcast, and has taken up a logistical role for the Model United Nations team.

Given that the race is uncontested, Hiemstra said he believes his interpersonal skills and experiences speak to his candidacy for the Rector position.

“I’ve kind of gotten my foot in the door of a bunch of different things on campus, so I know what student engagement takes, what it looks like, [and] what possible challenges we might have going forward.”

If elected, Hiemstra said he hopes to work with the AMS, SGPS, and faculty societies to ensure better continuity of student services.

“Something I’m looking to change is how the office is run, and how it sits as a part of the institution,” Hiemstra said. “I think it should be much more along the lines of liaison work [and] case work. If students have issues or ideas that they want to bring forward, things they think faculty or administration could be doing differently, they can go to the Rector.”

Hiemstra was involved in starting a charity organization with peers called Students for Students, which aimed to offset cuts to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) while encouraging donations toward the Queen’s bursary program. He added that he hopes to address mental health issues exacerbated by the Student Choice Initiative.

“As someone who’s come from financial instability into university, to me, I think the mental health aspect of these cuts and these changes should be addressed because students everywhere are feeling the effects of it,” he said.

Another issue Hiemstra hopes to address should he be elected is interfaculty relations. The candidate highlighted the success of the commerce alumni network program, and sees the lack in interfaculty relations as an opportunity for the Rector to connect the different faculties and make better opportunities for all students.

Hiemstra also wants to improve the relationship between the University and the city of Kingston. He said his experience working with Kingston and the Islands MP Mark Gerretsen last summer gave him insight into issues the City faces.

“This is a good opportunity, especially with the new principal coming in, who is very open about discussing things with the City just to make sure that there’s a mutual respect going,” Hiemstra said. “Obviously, there are things we can change as students to be a lot kinder to the communities that surround us, but the city has to recognize that we’re also a part of this community just as much as they are.”

Hiemstra also hopes to be a more vocal and accessible rector.

“It should be a reminder that students are the ones who pay the tuition, who use the services, who walk on campus and use it every day, and they should be reflected in every policy change,” he said. “It’s only one voice that the students  have on the Board of Trustees, but it’s an important one, so make sure it’s as vocal as possible.”

Students will be able to cast a vote of confidence in the Rector election from Jan. 28 to 29.

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