The candidates making up team TBD are counting on passion, not experience, to win students’ votes in the upcoming AMS election.
TBD consists of Presidential candidate Thomas Crawford, ArtSci ’23, vice-presidential (operations) candidate Ben Bertin, ArtSci ’23, and vice-presidential candidate (university affairs) Dante Caloia, ArtSci ’23.
In an interview with The Journal, Crawford said he’s running for AMS President because he appreciates the AMS’ role in enriching his experience at Queen’s.
“[The AMS] has done so much for students and done so much for me personally. I want to give back to the community that has given so much to me,” Crawford said.
Crawford worked as the Judicial Affairs Manager for the AMS this past year and was first exposed to the AMS as a first-year intern. He is the most experienced member of Team TBD but is confident his team has a refreshing perspective to offer students.
“I think our perspective is unique—and especially different than those of the other two teams running,” Crawford said. “Our philosophy is we talk to [students], we don’t put up an image, we talk to you the way we talk to regular people, this is just it.”
Having been invested in running for AMS President since last year, Crawford recruited friends Caloia and Bertin to join him as the potential future AMS executives.
“I like to put things bluntly,” Caloia said. “I think that the AMS has a long way to go. As I’ve been thinking more and more about this job, I feel like I can come in with a neutral standpoint of not [having been] in the AMS, and I can do my best to fix it.”
Working as a DJ at both Queen’s radio station CFRC, and at Kingston’s Ale House, Caloia has gotten to know Queen’s students from a different perspective.
“The AMS is gonna be my priority,” he said on juggling his creative projects.
For Caloia, focusing on equity-based clubs is at the forefront of his platform.
“If I could have the head of every cultural and every equity club come to a bimonthly meeting, every second month for the entire year, I’d feel like I’ve accomplished something,” Caloia said. “Having these different groups bounce their ideas off each other, providing an outlet—I feel like these groups don’t feel like they can always open up to everyone.”
Ben Bertin, the newest addition to the team, wants to work for students after COVID changed his university experience.
“I feel like involvement in the community is something that I really missed out on,” Bertin said. “I would like to be more involved.”
Bertin has experience managing teams in the past. His work as a lumberjack over the summer taught him to lead by example.
“I’m a firm believer in the fact that if you surround yourself with the most qualified and talented people, it is the most sure-fire way to succeed as an organization,” Bertin said.
As a candidate vice president (operations), Bertin has a plan to make all AMS services more accessible.
“[Co-Gro] doesn’t have a toaster for gluten free products, which is such a simple fix in my mind,” Bertin said. “If it’s not in the budget, I’ll drive to Canadian Tire; it’s a toaster!”
TBD’s platform includes five pillars: student engagement, fostering community, equity, working environment, and accountability and transparency.
TBD wants to bring Queen’s students together, which is reflected in their platform by creating actionable items for every AMS service and commission, with an emphasis on supporting student-led events.
“One of the things in our platform is we’re going to implement a new assistant manager position that is solely in charge of sanctioning events, making sure they’re up to code, make sure they’re up to the AMS’ standards,” Crawford said.
To allow events to occur as planned, Team TBD is re-thinking advertising for student constables, which are essential for providing many student events with security.
“I would like to involve all of the faculty societies, and really blast with marketing for StuCons,” Bertin said.
During consultation, Bertin was concerned by how many students were depending on the AMS Food Bank, and if elected, would like to improve the quality of the food.
“It’s important to me to involve faculty from the Health Studies department to help the Food Bank develop an adequate shopping list, and really made sure that students are getting very nutritious foods,” Bertin said.
Team TBD emphasized the importance of unifying, all students, especially those part of equity-seeking groups.
Caloia disagrees with the current AMS’ decision to dissolve the Committee Against Racial and Ethnic Discrimination (CARED), Education on Queer Issues Project (EQuiP), and Accessibility Queen’s (AQ).
“They are all extremely important committees, in my opinion, that should be prioritized. I think that getting those back on track, and basically reinvigorating them, and bringing them back is something that I would really want to try to do,” Caloia said.
Those close to Team TBD agree the team lacks experience, but really believe in their ability to ask for other opinions when addressing students’ concerns.
“[Team TBD] was talking about getting menstrual care products into the Queen’s bathrooms,” Kirsten Miller, the team’s marketing manager said. “They were like, ‘We don’t really know what would be the most useful–what is useful to you?’”
Miller agreed to work on the campaign because she saw their passion.
“It’s so refreshing to see guys who care this much about helping people amplifying other’s voices to have support and find resources where there aren’t resources,” she added.
While hesitant to make too many campaign promises, Presidential candidate Crawford promised to advocate for students to the university.
“That’s a promise I can give you: I will speak up,” Crawford said. “I don’t stay quiet when things when things are happening that shouldn’t happen. We’re here for the students, we’re here to talk on student’s behalf.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.