AMS Assembly: Queen’s to be back in “full-gear” by September

Assembly approves Holocaust Education Week, discusses Sustainability Action plan

Assembly met last Thursday evening on Zoom.

AMS Assembly met Thursday evening on Zoom to discuss the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA), ratify commissioners, and hear from special guest speaker, Dr. David Walker.

COVID-19 at Queen’s 

David Walker, special advisor to Principal Patrick Deane on COVID-19, joined Assembly to discuss the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. He summarized what’s happened so far and made predictions about what will happen going forward. 

“Your generation has paid an enormous price to protect my generation,” he told Assembly. “I’d like to thank you, because […] you’ve given up an awful lot so that my generation is protected. And I think that needs to be recognized.” 

Regarding the upcoming academic year, Walker predicted that in September restrictions will be lifted and Queen’s will be able to engage in “full operations”—without social distancing. 

According to Walker, Dr. Kieran Moore, medical officer of health for Kingston, Frontenac, and Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health, has encouraged the University to return to full, in-person operations in the fall.

“He’s put it in writing—he said Queen’s should be back full-gear,” Walker told Assembly. “[He] said there should be no restrictions.”

Walker added that this will change in the event of a “catastrophic” interruption to vaccine supply or a variant that is “so insensitive” to current vaccines that they become ineffective. However, he told Assembly these possibilities are “unlikely.”

“I think we’re [going to] see a very different setting between now and September, but […] we are right now at a very critical juncture,” Walker told Assembly. “So it’s absolutely essential […] to follow the rules until our vaccination penetration’s reached.” 

He said the University will have to be “delicate” with large-scale events like Orientation week because while Moore isn’t concerned about it, the general public might be.

Assembly Business

In her report, Alexia Henriques, vice-president (university affairs), spoke about OUSA’s Spring General Assembly, which took place from March 18 to 21. Student representatives passed two policy papers: the Student Health & Wellness paper and the Racial and Religious Equity paper. 

“We’re really happy with the outcome,” Henriques told Assembly.

Assembly voted to ratify the incoming AMS executive team for the 2021-22 academic year: Laura Devenny, incoming secretary of internal affairs; Anika Chowdhury, incoming commissioner of campus affairs; Jacob Marinelli, incoming commissioner of external affairs; Samara Lijiam, incoming commissioner of social issues; Brian Seo, incoming commissioner of clubs; and Jessica Wile, incoming commissioner of environmental sustainability.

It also voted to approve the Society’s collaboration with Queen’s Hillel to ensure the annual implementation of Holocaust Education Week. This week is a student-driven initiative intended to raise awareness for and provide education about the Holocaust through various events.

Assembly also approved a motion requiring all faculty societies to produce an annual Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Indigenization (EDII) action plan in accompaniment with their annual strategic plan.

Procedure for Sustainable Action 

A discussion period was held to review the AMS Procedure for Sustainable Action. Molly Urquhart, commissioner of environment sustainability, presented the plan. The procedure manual will replace the environmental policy introduced in 2016.

“This one is a little more accessible, a little more easily comprehensible, and a little more tangible,” Urquhart told Assembly.

The updated action plan combines the corporate and government sides of the AMS, so they can both participate in sustainable actions.  

It outlines recommendations regarding proper waste sorting, energy management, food, office supplies, and sustainability training—the AMS Commission of Environmental Sustainability will develop environmental training for all AMS employees and volunteers, which will be delivered starting in the 2022-23 academic year.

“We hope [it] will help folks out on their journey to sustainability.”

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