Executive Candidate Profile: Team RTZ ready to clean up the AMS

“If it’s broken, then someone’s gotta go fix it,” AMS presidential candidate says

Team RTZ consists of Zaid Kasim, Tiana Wong, and Ryan Sieg.

The candidates that make up Team RTZ are coming from an outside perspective—not one of them has been directly involved with the AMS in their prior years at Queen’s.

Team RTZ consists of Presidential candidate Zaid Kasim, Sci ’21, Vice-Presidential (Operations) candidate Tiana Wong, ArtSci ’21, and Vice-Presidential candidate (University Affairs) Ryan Sieg, Kin ’21.

In an interview with The Journal, Kasim said he’s running for AMS President because of his frustration with the organization. 

“I became fed up, and I became fed up with the inaction, and the incompetency, and how much wasn’t getting done,” he said. “I was like, ‘if it’s broken, then someone’s gotta go fix it’ [...] So I figured I would do it myself.” 

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Kasim was the Vice-President of Student Affairs in the Engineering Society last year. This year, he’s on the executive teams for Jack.org and the Queen’s Women in Applied Science and Engineering Conference (Q-WASE). He was also involved in Engineering Orientation and has sat on AMS Assembly.

“The AMS is broken,” Kasim said. “Students are fed up. Students are unhappy, and students think there’s been a failure in the AMS.”

After deciding to run for President, Kasim asked Wong to run alongside him as Vice-President (Operations). Wong is the current Services Commissioner on the Arts and Science Undergraduate Society’s (ASUS) Council; in past years, she’s been involved with ASUS Orientation and the Life Science DSC.

“While running the services really does interest me, I also want to make it clear that I’m really interested in advocating for the student body,” she told The Journal.

Sieg has been involved in every stage of Kinesiology Orientation and was on the executive team for Queen’s Health Outreach. Now, he’s on the executive team for the ASUS Mentorship Program. 

“Having the opportunity to be able to try and revitalize student engagement through the role of [Vice-President (University Affairs)] is what really drew me in,” Sieg said.

Kasim said Team RTZ is “really, really excited” for the campaign process. The team has held ongoing consultations with all the faculty societies, the Rector, and various clubs to form their platform. 

“I’ve been ready to run for like seven months now,” Kasim said. “We feel very, very confident in our campaign and our platform.”

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The team noted that while COVID-19 is a big challenge—they expect an online election campaign week to lead to decreased engagement, for example—they won’t use it to put other issues on the backburner. 

“I don’t think it’s hindered us or stopped us at all in regards to creating a platform that’s fair for students,” Kasim said. “We do not use [COVID-19] as an excuse for anything.”

Team RTZ’s platform includes six pillars: wellness, advocacy and action, accountability, COVID-19, culture, and sustainability. Each of these pillars incorporates feedback from the team’s consultations.

“These consultations have been truly invaluable to us,” Wong said.  

Kasim said the team’s diverse backgrounds give them an edge to provoke change within the AMS.

“All three of us have come from all walks of student life,” he said. “Throughout all three of our times’ at Queen’s, we have met with students, we have seen how students have interacted, we’ve been on their ground, we’ve interacted with students and we’ve had our consultations.” 

Kasim also pointed to his prior experience in student government and advocacy, saying it contributes to his confidence in succeeding in the presidential role. 

“The only reason I’m running for the AMS is because I think that it needs me,” Kasim said. “I think that it’s time someone comes in and proposes sweeping changes. I want to do what’s best for the students [and] I think I know what that is.”

Sieg added Team RTZ’s external perspective provides a fresh take on how to best incorporate feedback from consultations. 

“We’re not just set on doing things the way they have always been done, but [will] take all these opinions and try to incorporate in doing things differently,” he said. “People aren’t happy with how the AMS has been run in the past, and we think by bringing in a fresh perspective we can make big changes because we’re not committed to broken systems.”

All three candidates agreed that, if elected, lack of student engagement is a challenge they’ll face in implementing their platform.

“Right now, it feels that the student body doesn’t care who gets elected for the AMS because they think nothing will change,” Wong said.  

“We have so many actionable items we want to act on in our platform, but it all comes down to that [our goals] won’t work unless students trust the AMS and want to hear us [...] It’s really hard to speak on behalf of the student body when they won’t speak to us.”

Kasim agreed that student engagement is critical to the success of their platform.

“Student leadership is important, but students are way more important and way more powerful,” he said. “If they aren’t involved and they don’t care, those student positions are way less effective.”

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