Team ETC zeroes in on rebuilding student trust

Engagement, communication, and transparency are top priorities for AMS executive candidates

Team ETC hopes to better compromise with the City of Kingston.

This year’s uncontested candidates for AMS executive, Team ETC, say they’ll put students first.

Team ETC is comprised of Presidential candidate Eric Sikich, ArtSci ’22, Vice-Presidential candidate (Operations) Tina Hu, ArtSci ’22, and Vice-Presidential candidate (University Affairs) Callum Robertson, ArtSci ’23.

ETC’s experience with student government is concentrated within their faculty societies. Robertson was previously Governance Officer of ASUS, while Hu is the current ASUS Services Commissioner.

Sikich became involved in ASUS and various clubs in his second year, working in Good Times Diner, Common Ground Coffeehouse, and as a Student Constable. He’s also been a Head Gael.

“We tackled a lot of issues on-campus that first years would face. I worked with a team of 36 orientation coordinators, four chairs, and about 200 Gaels. We touched on EDII and sustainability issues in orientation,” Sikich said in an interview with The Journal.

“I think Queen's has such an amazing student voice, so I’m really looking for that advocacy from students to be able to connect them with other individuals within the AMS and outside of the AMS.”

Sikich said students have “lost a little bit of faith in the AMS” over the past years. If elected, Team ETC hopes to rebuild trust through improved communication, advocacy, and student engagement.

Incorporating student voices

Team ETC held consultations with various stakeholders on topics, including the university’s sexual violence policy.

Robertson, who successfully campaigned for a fee increase as ASUS Governance Officer last year, wants to ensure transparency.

“We made sure students understood why that increase was needed,” Robertson said in an interview with The Journal.

“I think we need to do a similar thing here where students need to understand we want to pay our real wage in some form. We want to compensate our employees and our volunteers better,” he said.

He will also work towards allocating funds to support the “emotional labour” of students working to improve the university’s EDII initiatives.

Regarding COVID-19, Team ETC hopes to support students while they learn remotely and work with clubs to streamline event sanctioning.

“That's something that we need to take into our third year of the COVID pandemic. We know what we're doing at this point, we’ve been doing it for two years,” Sikich said.

“There's no excuse for why we're not either reducing fees, having a better education online, or being more flexible.”

Vice-President (Operations)

As the potential incoming Vice-President of Operations, Hu said she’ll manage the fiscal health of the AMS with the support of AMS permanent staff.

“It's safe to say that the AMS has a massive budget […] knowing that I have the support of the permanent staff who will support my team and our initiatives is something that is important,” Hu said in an interview with The Journal.

Hu hopes to ensure AMS services can run smoothly to protect student jobs—as well as student safety, in the case of services like Student Constables.

“I don't think that things will be 100 per cent the same [should the pandemic ease]. I think that's just the nature of life. Ensuring [student] jobs are there will be a priority,” Hu said.

Hu hopes to partner with other AMS services during her term to support their marketing efforts by “leveraging” available resources and involving more students to meet their demands.

Hu believes, despite being a candidate external to the AMS, that she can work to understand the intricacies of the organization.

“Once I get into this position, I will be asking questions, speaking to permanent staff, individuals who have held the position prior, and will continue the consultation process,” Hu said.

Vice-President (University Affairs)

If elected, Robertson wants to work with the City of Kingston and Queen’s on matters such as Homecoming and harm reduction measures.

“Our students, especially coming from marginalized backgrounds, don’t feel safe in the presence of Kingston police, and for very good reasons,” Robertson said.

“I can't in good conscious sit idly by and let the university make such a large payment to a police force that doesn't make our community feel safe.”

Robertson will work with the commissioner of External Affairs to determine what actions can and should be taken.

“We have lots of great city partners […] sometimes [the City] forgets that we are their constituents.”

Robertson added that he intends to work to reach an understanding and improve town-gown relations.

“I will always try and shoot for compromise—I don't want anybody on the City of Kingston staff to read this article and think that ‘this guy's not going to work with us,’” Robertson said.

“My job isn't to represent the City of Kingston, my job is to represent students, and I'd love to come to compromises, and I believe we can—but I have a clear priority.”

Student choice initiative

Sikich says ETC will not take a stance on the student choice initiative (SCI) because it’s a “tough” topic.

“That's a very tough topic to take a stance on as the AMS. There is a population of students who support the student choice initiative, then there are also a lot of individuals who see the downside,” Sikich said.

Sikich says ETC will instead work to explain to students the impacts of the SCI.

“Look at what [SCI] has done to our Social Issues Commission, or perhaps the Queen's Food Bank,” Sikich said. “The place of the AMS is almost as a mediator between a lot of issues. So, it is tough sometimes take a stance.”

Sikich says he needs to delve into the issue further and understand the student's voice.

“Our goal is also not to alienate the student population. It is a difficult issue.”


Although they’re passionate about getting students involved whenever possible, Team ETC acknowledges the limitations of placing heavy responsibilities on undergraduates.

They say redeveloping the AMS’ website and managing the student association’s human resources team to address the “cliquey” culture at the AMS may be tasks better left to permanent staff.

“With hiring the permanent staff, we're not taking away opportunities for students,” Hu said.

“We're in fact increasing options for students to work on projects that are less administrative, and that opens up more opportunities for students to be doing things that can enhance their professional development.”

Hu added that the AMS is a valuable resource, and she aims to improve engagement with the student government.

“It's not that the AMS doesn't matter anymore, which is why people aren't engaging with it, it's just that we need better communication, and I think we can try and increase engagement.”

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