AMS ratifies new Rector Candidate at first assembly of the year

President Zaid Kasim advocates for more student representation at the Board of Trustees 

AMS Assembly gathered for the first time this school year on Sept. 21.
The AMS held its first Assembly of the 2021-22 school year on Sept. 21. The agenda included discussing President Zaid Kasim’s upcoming speech to the Board of Trustees, ratifying a new candidate for Rector, approving budget items for the year, and exploring the possible introduction of policy papers to guide the AMS’s advocacy. 
 
President’s Report
 
President Zaid Kasim shared with the Assembly a list of topics he planned to address in a series of upcoming speeches to the Board of Trustees, one of the three governing bodies of Queen’s. Topics included concerns surrounding online learning, mental health and wellness needs, and the amount of student representation on the Board  of Trustees.
 
“Over the past couple of weeks, the AMS has gotten quite a bit of feedback that there are students who are still not quite as satisfied with the online versions of their classes, as [the quality of instruction] does differentiate quite significantly between departments and faculties,” Kasim said. 
 
“Because all of us are paying full tuition, all of us deserve that sense of quality in our education. So, I am mentioning that directly to the Board of Trustees and really ensuring that they know that there needs to be guidelines in place for instructors on how to develop those classes.”
 
He added the importance of continuing to provide accommodations for students in the transition to in-person learning.  
 
“Although we are moving into in-person instruction, which we’re very happy about, we’re still in the middle of a pandemic. And accommodations for students need to be in place more than ever.”
 
Kasim said he would call upon the Board to provide increased funding to Student Wellness Services (SWS) so students can receive mental health and wellbeing support for during the adjustment period. 
 
The president concluded by stating his intent to increase student representation on the Board of Trustees. He plans on speaking to the Board and proposing they allow each faculty to have an Undergraduate Trustee.
 
“While we have an Undergraduate Trustee, and we have a Rector, just currently vacant, we think that every single faculty should be able to elect its own Undergraduate Trustee, similar to how every single faculty has a senator,” Kasim said. 
 
He also suggested that there should be a Student Trustee Caucus, similar to the existing Student Senate Caucus. 
 
“The more students on the board of trustees, the better.” 
 
Vice President (University Affairs)’s Report
 
Vice President (University Affairs) Ryan Seig congratulated the Assembly on the successful execution of in-person orientation, the Tricolour Open House, and senior management training over the last few weeks. 
 
He also said he’s looking to find ways to improve relations between students and Kingston residents following several large street parties held in the University District during Frosh Week.
 
 
“Something else that’s been an ongoing topic that I know many of you are aware of is the idea of town-gown relations, and tensions with the city and increased enforcement with partying in the University District,” he said. 
 
Seig is especially interested in amplifying clubs with community service projects that give back to the city—such as neighborhood clean-ups—as a way of rebuilding the relationship between Queen’s and the City of Kingston.
 
New Rector Candidate Ratified
 
Following a successful nomination period, the AMS Assembly ratified Maya Morcos, HealthSci ’24, to appear on the ballot for the election of the Rector.
 
Morcos, who’s running on a three-point platform focusing on accessibility, social justice, and supporting the transition back to in-person learning, took part in a short question and answer session with the Assembly before being ratified. 
 
“Although I’ve only lived [in Kingston] for about a month, the community is unlike anything I’ve ever been part of. I’m wanting to do everything in my power to improve it,” she said.
 
“When I heard about the rector position, I did my research and learned about the tremendous responsibilities that entails, and I saw it as an opportunity to leave my mark.”
 
Rector elections will take place on Oct. 1-2.
 
Discussion Period
 
During the discussion period, Seig and Commissioner of External Affairs Jacob Marinelli proposed the introduction of policy papers to the AMS. The policy papers will be similar to the system already in use at the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA).
 
Policy papers are research papers outlining recommendations for policymakers to follow based on concerns identified by students, as well as data and feedback collected from the university.
 
If implemented, Seig and Marinelli believe these papers would help guide the AMS’ advocacy by providing the organization with concrete goals in addressing student needs. 
 
These policy papers will be renewed and updated on a quarterly basis, and further held in library as a form of institutional memory, they said. 
 
“By doing this, we’re hoping to be able to engage with all of you and be able to get feedback directly into the [policy] paper,” Seig said. 
 
“We really want to engage with you as well as your students, to ensure that our policies are consistent with what they want and the actionable change that they want to see,” Marinelli added. 
 
Other Motions Passed
 
The AMS motioned to pass budgets and goal plans for five AMS Commissions, the Secretary of Internal Affairs, and allocations for the standing committee. 
 
Included within the approved budget of the Campus Affairs Commission is a new International Student Bursary for international students seeking financial aid.
 
“Last year’s Commissioner had this [bursary] passed and this year we’ll be opening it up, which is really exciting,” said Commissioner of Campus Affairs Anika Chowdhury.
 
The AMS also ratified three new Elections Deputies, six Judicial Committee members, and a Judicial Affairs Deputy. 
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