Teams ERA, KMV, & TBD face off at AMS executive debate

Electoral debate takes place in person for the first time in three years

Candidates debate in the hot seat.

AMS executive candidate teams ERA, KMV, and TBD went head-to-head in a debate in Theological Hall before polls open on Feb. 6 and 7. It was the first-time teams debated in person since 2020.

The panel opened with a short address from Reem Al-Rawi, the uncontested undergraduate trustee candidate, who hopes to create “meaningful connections” with the AMS executive to provide opportunities for collaboration on projects, such as holiday house checks over the winter break.

“The health and safety of students is at the top of my priority list,” Al-Rawi said at the debate.

Al-Rawi jokingly said she would wish to go to medical school if she could wish for anything.

On team ERA is Ryan Chen, Kin ’23, running for president, Elisabeth McHarg, ArtSci ’23, for vice-president (operations), and Alicia Parker ArtSci ’24, for vice-president (university affairs).

Team KMV comprises presidential candidate Kate McCuaig, vice-presidential (operations) candidate Michelle Hudson, and vice-presidential (university affairs) candidate Victoria Mills—all ArtSci ’23.

Presidential candidate Thomas Crawford, ArtSci ’23, vice-presidential (operations) candidate Ben Bertin, ArtSci ’23, and vice-presidential (university affairs) candidate Dante Caloia, ArtSci ’23, make up team TBD.

Event sanctioning

In response to a question, Bertin spoke on event sanctioning, stating he had consultations on campus affairs and explained what he has learned about the process.

Parker commented on this too, saying event sanctioning is the “number one way” clubs are interacting with the AMS.

“What's come out of that is the AMS team has already put any plans to have a new assistant manager next year. That will take the load off the incoming commissioner, which I think will be a great first step,” Parker said.

Parker said meeting with AMS IT services, Niki Boytchuk-Hale, AMS marketing director, and current Vice-President (University Affairs) Callum Robertson was helpful in the process.

KMV described their proposed event sanctioning triage system. Parker replied by saying it can be effective, but it will be better as a check-in ticketing system.

Lobbying the provincial government

In response to a question about lobbying student issue to the provincial government, ERA’s Parker said she wants to make opportunities for students to get involved in advocacy work.

“A lot of the barriers come from above; it comes from governmental legislation—and something that's really important is your tuition,” Parker said.

When the University must fund projects, ERA said they don’t want it to come out of students’ pockets. Parker believes it is a “huge privilege” to be an AMS executive and wants to lobby the provincial government to improve healthcare for students on campus.

On behalf of KMV, Mills said accessibility would be their main objective.

“[When going from an] in-person model to a kind of online model, and then to a hybrid model—a lot has changed in the way in which students learn. I feel like it's something that university administration and facilitators have not caught up with,” Mills said.

She said lobbying for financial accessibility for students is one recommendation team KMV has, pointing to tuition and increasing housing prices.

By lobbying the government for financial accessibility and more textbook options for students, Mills would get “as much input as possible” from students and the AMS.

She wants to begin educating high school students about mental and financial resources and believes change starts at a governmental level.

Caloia spoke on lobbying the provincial government, saying it can be achieved through equity focus, scholarships, and grants.

“Subsidies and making things more affordable is definitely necessary, but I think that can go hand in hand with equity and representation,” Caloia said.

Budget allocations

The vice-presidential (operations) candidates were asked about their management of the AMS’s 20-million-dollar budget.

Team TBD wants to make the budget more accessible for students. Bertin said there isn’t an “easy” approach to allocating funds. He said he would communicate with other members of the AMS and its permanent staff to ensure it is “distributed and used well.”

The AMS’s 2022 budget was “hard” to view, according to Bertin—and after viewing it, he was still confused about where the money goes.

McHarg wants to improve the efficiency of equity awards, considering the goals of all teams to help them “achieve their goals.”

By allowing online students to opt into AMS-mandated funds, team ERA would ensure online students receive the same benefits as in-person students.

“[Allocating the budget] comes in line with transparency with faculty societies and working in collaboration with faculty societies to serve students, so they can do what they do best: serving the student body,” McHarg said.

Hudson said it’s vital to be transparent about fiscal deficits when managing portfolios.

“I can’t pretend to know everything going on in [the] student body [or] student government, but I can listen to others, incorporate their voices, and also lift them up so they can also make informed decisions—and we can all make informed decisions together,” Hudson said.

Hudson said this year is the first year Common Ground (CoGro) is not “losing money.” In response, TBD’s candidate Bertin indicated this service is in fact projecting a deficit.

Funding model

Vice-presidential (operations) candidates were asked about the changes they would make to the current funding model of services.

Bertin would allocate funds toward clubs, explaining they have been “lacking” since the pandemic.

“Clubs and events are really the lifeblood of the student experience,” he said.

Hudson said she would advocate for a direct say in where the money goes, to work collaboratively within the AMS, and for a tuition cap.

McHarg said bringing money back into students' pockets is essential, which can be achieved by reducing activity fees.

“It's on us to again, [to] lobby at the government for more increased grants since it hasn't been increased since 1960,” McHarg said.

Receiving fees from the government and reducing costs for food are important considerations for McHarg.

Presidential goals

The presidential candidates offered their plans for how they would accomplish their goals where past presidents have failed.

Crawford mentioned there’s a lot more room for student advocacy. Going out and talking to students, listening to their problems, and advocating for them to the school and government are among his agenda if elected.

“I was kind of thrown into the Judicial Affairs Manager position, not really knowing what I was supposed to do. I did get transitioned, but you learn along the way,” Crawford said. “It’s the nature of how [these positions] work.”

McCuaig says communication will be essential to her presidency. In contrast to Crawford, McCuaig believes transitions are a huge deal and plans on adjusting them to a month-to-month basis, limiting the chance of student burnout.

“Having a transition that's done month by month, instead of at the end of positions is a key piece of our platform. It's something that we look forward to implementing uniquely to our campaign,” she said.

Chen plans to have ongoing conversation regarding what works and what doesn’t, and to be realistic with his goals by building off team ETC’s previous endeavors.

“This stems beyond the presidential profile and making sure [I] understand the entirety of the AMS,” Chen said.

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.