The Arts and Science Undergraduate Society (ASUS) executive candidates participated in an open forum on Zoom on Wednesday where they discussed the future of the faculty society, including ASUS fees and student accessibility.
Amaiya Walters, ArtSci ’23, presidential candidate, Therese de Rivera, ArtSci ’24, vice-president (operations) candidate, and Preston Harrison, ArtSci ’23, vice-president (society affairs) make up Team ATP, the only team running. The election is on Jan. 29 and 30.
The team said ASUS is the “central hub for understanding student life” and is a “basepoint [for students] to find other interests” at Queen’s.
During the debate, the team asked which office or commission they think will be the most challenging to overlook, and how they would address these challenges.
Walters and de Rivera both agreed the equity office would be the most challenging. Walters said she has devoted a lot of time to equity work, but still feels as though she hasn’t yet accomplished her goals.
“[If] you step back and look at all the work you’ve done within equity […] you see a lot of progress,” she added.
Walters said the challenges for the equity commission stem from the fact that the commission is mainly composed of unpaid volunteers who are representing marginalized groups. These volunteers must deal with the “emotional labour” of working with heavy topics.
Respecting how much work people can take on and having open lines of communication is key to ensuring the equity commission continues to provide beneficial support to the student body, Walters said.
De Rivera followed up Walters’ response by adding that, in her personal experience, there were clubs “that did not have a [Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Indigeneity] director.”
Since the lack of EDII directors is “an issue that is always going to be [at Queens],” de Rivera emphasized how important it is to educate students on equity as the commissions continue to tackle new issues on campus.
De Rivera also discussed the barriers that come with financial equity and the importance of bearing students’ diverse economic circumstances in mind.
De Rivera was asked about how she plans to promote the benefits of opting in for the ASUS fee. She said it’s important students are aware of the ASUS fee and what it provides. She noted some students are not in a financial position to opt into the ASUS fee.
Overall, de Rivera plans to implement more education and “orientation” regarding the student fees to ensure students understand the benefits of the ASUS fee.
Harrison was asked how he plans to support the relationship between ASUS and sibling societies. He said it’s vital to acknowledge the importance of smaller societies, hear their voices, and give them opportunities.
When asked how she plans to improve ASUS initiatives, Walters noted the ASUS yearly BBQ as something the society can work on because there’s “a lot of standing” at it. She plans to make the BBQ a fun experience for students who are not physically able to stand in line for long periods of time.
“There is always going to be a barrier when providing accessibility for students,” de Rivera added.
Student accessibility on campus is something Team ATP plans on tackling by ensuring all Arts and Science students have their voices heard.
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