Transparency & accountability is a must for student leadership—and RTZ doesn’t deliver

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Student government leaders must be honest and transparent when addressing problems within their institutions—and team RTZ is no exception.

Since the beginning of their term, four members of the AMS senior management team have resigned—three of whom are women of colour. In interviews with The Journal, two former members alleged an overwhelming workload, racial bias, and cliques in the work culture as reasons motivating their resignations.

During an equity town hall meeting on Nov. 16, when asked about the resignations, RTZ—consisting of AMS President Zaid Kasim, AMS Vice-President (Operations) Tianna Wong, and AMS Vice-President (University Affairs) Ryan Sieg—implied it was a coincidence three major resignations were women of colour. Only after some probing did Kasim admit it likely wasn’t “completely coincidental.”

Understandably, the workload of a student politician role is large—especially when coupled with the daily responsibilities of being a university student. However, this doesn’t explain or excuse the still-prevailing ‘cliquey’ culture within the AMS or the concerns of senior management members who’ve resigned.

RTZ has proposed a new “whistleblower policy,” an opportunity for racialized students to flag discrimination within the AMS without repercussions. Even so, the current AMS team failed to do what every good student government should—protect the students that work for them.

RTZ’s failure to openly address their shortcomings is an even bigger problem.

When RTZ was campaigning to be elected AMS executive, they made promises of activism and advocating for the student body. They said they believed their experiences external to AMS would help to “fix” the issues within the organization.

Student leaders are inevitably going to fall short sometimes, and they deserve the chance to learn and grow. They also don’t inherently owe students activism—unless they promised it.

RTZ’s commitment to activism is what made voters—and The Journal—believe RTZ would be able to provide solutions to these same issues that have plagued the institution for years. Their current performance is disappointing in comparison to their buzzworthy promises made last winter.

The AMS has been unable to foster an inclusive or accessible environment for years, and it’s unrealistic to expect a group of students to find a solution to every problem within a one-year term. But even though RTZ didn’t create the problems, they sure are continuing to perpetuate them.

It’s okay to acknowledge a lack of resources to bring about change in an inherently flawed institution. Transparency about obstacles to equity would at least validate students’ experiences—and perhaps instigate a long-overdue discussion about what needs to be done to overhaul the institution as a whole.

It’s difficult to be publicly confronted with one’s own mistakes, but accountability is important. Team RTZ should’ve been honest about their failings instead of pretending the problems don’t exist.

RTZ has a semester ahead of them to reaffirm their commitment to their original platform instead of continuing performative leadership, paying lip service to their values without the actions to back them up.

The Board hopes RTZ is up to it.

Journal Editorial Board

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