AMS President demands more respect from University administrators

Den Otter says students need more support in remote term

Den Otter said “working together” will allow the University and the AMS to support the entire student body.
Journal File Photo

AMS President Jared den Otter asked the University to show student leaders more respect through consultation and collaboration in pandemic-related planning at the Board of Trustees meeting on Sept. 25.

“I’m sure we’re all facing similar struggles as a result of the pandemic,” den Otter told the board. “It has revealed many flaws in our system and created new issues for students, which calls for greater collaboration between the AMS and the University.”

Den Otter said the main issues stem from inequalities faced by QTBIPOC students on campus and concerns related to COVID-19. 

READ MORE: ‘[W]e do not have jobs to formally offer as of now’: Queen’s reopening plan doesn’t account for AMS service staff

“Students were underwhelmed when the University released its 11-point declaration of commitment to address systemic racism,” he said. “This commitment didn’t mean anything to students because of the lack of measurable items. Since Aug. 13, no updates or information items have been released and no progress has been commented on.”

“We would like to encourage Queen’s University, and its administrators, to release regular updates. Transparency is necessary in ensuring that the institution can create meaningful change.”

Den Otter suggested the University consult with QTBIPOC students on campus and compensate them for their labour in anti-racism efforts. 

“We expect that the institution we’ve chosen to pursue our undergraduate studies at is prioritizing the concerns addressed by QTBIPOC students and is truly committed to transparent anti-racism work on campus,” he said.

Den Otter said “working together” will allow the University and the AMS to support the entire student body and overcome challenges associated with COVID-19.

“The AMS is a partner and a stakeholder to the University […] We are an asset that is being underutilized currently,” he said, adding that increased communication and consultation with student government leaders need to occur to ensure the viability of plans made by the University.

READ MORE: AMS concerned about lack of communication from University about isolation residences

The AMS has experienced friction with the University during fall term planning. Den Otter had previously told The Journal in September that the AMS was not “consulted prior to the University’s decision to designate the JDUC as an isolation residence” for students with COVID-19.

Acknowledging that remote delivery is the reality, den Otter said the University needs to provide students with more support going forward. He said safe spaces to study and socialize on campus need to be treated as an essential safety protocol for promoting student mental health and the physical health of the community. 

“As students ourselves, we truly are the best people the University and its administrators can consult with and rely on to communicate to students effectively,” den Otter said. “My role is intended to serve my peers. In doing so, myself and my entire team need better communication, more priority, and more respect.”

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