ResSoc hopefuls discuss student issues at open forum

Uncontested candidates see limited turnout at event

From left to right: Julia Guest, Oliver Flis, and Julie Ro. 

Together, Presidential candidate Oliver Flis, Vice-Presidential (Residential Affairs) candidate Julia Guest, and Vice-Presidential (Judicial Affairs) candidate Julie Ro form Team OJJ. Uncontested, the three presented at an open forum in the basement of Victoria Hall on Sunday night.

The forum, which saw a turnout of fewer than 10 people, covered topics from false fire alarms to residence security. Should they gain a vote of confidence, Team OJJ said they hope to prioritize equity, diversity, and inclusion; mental health and wellness; residence conduct; and governance reform.

Flis, in his fourth year of a dual degree commerce and law program, has extensive experience in residence. He was previously a residence facilitator and currently serves as the Residence Society Vice-President of Judicial Affairs.

Both Guest and Ro are fourth-year ConEd students. Guest is currently the Residence Society marketing coordinator, and Ro is currently a room facilitator.

False fire alarms

Flis addressed the issue of false fire alarms by referencing the implementation of tamper dye in residence buildings last winter, claiming the number of false fire alarms has decreased since then.

“We’re pleased to say, based on that, it’s been working,” he said. “That’s something we’re continuing to work on and give money towards making sure all the stations are equipped with the tamper dye.”

Residence security

Team OJJ is against cameras in residence.

 “We think in trying to solve damages [with] specifically cameras, it might create more issues than we’re trying to solve,” Flis said.

He pointed out that Queen’s will have 17 residence buildings by 2022, and the costs of installing cameras in all of those buildings would be too high.

“We looked at the installation cost of cameras, and on average, it’s potentially $200 per camera,” he said. “Plus, there’s a monthly monitoring fee. The cost is very steep.”

Flis also pointed out that cameras in residence could threaten student privacy.

“Residence is essentially a student’s home. It’s often called a home away for home, and for good reason,” he said. “To have cameras in every building in every turn, that’s not fair to the students.”

Instead, Flis said the most cost-effective method to prevent damages in residence buildings is education, stressing that any student damages will be paid for out of their own pockets.

Chown Hall

Acknowledging the October Chown Hall incident, which targeted LGBTQ+ and Indigenous students, Julia Guest referenced a 2016 racist Queen’s party, using it as another example of students feeling unsafe in their own environment.

“Residence is home. It’s where students are supposed to feel safe and comfortable,” she said. ”This is something that we don’t want to ever happen again.”

One of the team’s goals is to feature one equity, diversity, and inclusion event per semester for students in residence. Guest said these events could feature movies, guest speakers, or involve field trips. 

While the plan isn’t yet concrete, Guest said the team is also looking into collaborating with the University and with Four Directions to make an Indigenous course mandatory for all students during Orientation week. She acknowledged not all students attend Orientation week events, but said the team could look at event statistics to determine which have the highest turnout.

Regarding the Chown Hall incident, Guest said, in town halls, students prioritized education as a preventative measure.

“Their biggest thing was, for the incident, one of the most important things would have been to have education before the incident.”

Guest said the team wouldn’t have full jurisdiction over improved security measures in some of the older residence buildings like Chown, but would look into advocating for better student protection.

“We would be able to advocate for students and talk to students to figure out what security measures they’ve noticed in other buildings they feel they don’t have,” she said.

West Campus

Julie Ro acknowledged students living on West Campus can have a more difficult time transitioning to social life at university.

“We definitely understand that the distance can be very isolating,” she said. “That is something we definitely want to address and tackle with some initiatives that can possibly better that initiative.”

If elected, Ro said the team will continue the West is Best campaign and host community dinners. The team is also considering working with Hospitality Services to bring exclusive food options to West campus and have more residence-wide events hosted on West campus instead of main campus.

Ro also said the team would like to apply some of these initiatives to Harkness Hall and Waldron Tower.

Government Reform

If elected, Flis said the team wants to allow two or more students the opportunity to be floor representatives.

“What we’re really hoping to accomplish with these is to make the whole process easier, make it more streamlined,” he said.

Flis added there’s no practical difference between students on separate floors of a building.

“We don’t think it’s a good idea to artificially restrict people based on what floor they’re on in a building,” he said.

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