Teams GAP and MCF running for residence

Representation of first-years is a hot topic in elections for Main Campus Residence Council (MCRC) executive

Presidential candidate Josh McCaul (centre)
Image by: Asad Chishti
Presidential candidate Josh McCaul (centre)

Presidential candidate George Huang, vice-presidential (Residence Affairs) candidate Pooja Kumar and vice-presidential (Discipline) candidate Alexandra Shaw want to bridge the gaps seen on Main Campus Residence Council (MCRC).

Huang, MSc ’13, said Team GAP has a number of initiatives to bring together the 3,000 residents across 10 residences overseen by MCRC and the Council.

“We plan to have a first-year representative role in residence next year. This way first-years have an incentive to work in residence,” he said, adding that the position would be low-paying and would replace the currently unpaid social facilitator role.

Team GAP also wants to offer students the chance to be hired in the spring to help plan the residence orientation with Residence Life.

“We want to have a summer job option [and] a part-time job [option] for upper-year students so they can have input as well,” he said.

Huang said upper-year students may also be interested in the mentorship program he hopes to implement.

“[We want] a buddy system for next year. People in upper-years with the same faculty program …can be paired up with first-years and can act as mentors to first-years, show them the ropes. Also, upper-years have an incentive to sell their textbooks,” he said, adding that upper-year mentors wouldn’t necessarily need to be in residence.

Huang said the second gap his team aims to close is between residents and their faculties.

“Other than orientation week there’s no interaction between MCRC … and the other faculties. We plan on changing that by working with ComSoc for example,” he said, adding that he wants to partner with ComSoc in holding case competitions. One potential contest could be finding a business solution to the low usage of front desk services, such as renting board games and movies.

Working with faculties as well, Huang said he hopes to rent sound equipment to AMS clubs, to be used at socials, at a discount.

“[AMS] has a lot of clubs under them. In MCRC we have a lot of sound equipment in the resource room. We want to be able to rent that out to [AMS] clubs,” he said. “This helps both upper-year students and residences.”

Huang said renting out equipment to clubs would result in a revenue stream that could be put towards an operating budget for the MCRC event coordinator. Funds could be used to improve the quality of events, he said, adding that after speaking to current ASUS representatives, he found a lot of interest in this idea.

Implementing more places to use Flex Dollars is also on Team GAP’s agenda. Huang said the team wants to allow Flex Dollars to be used at Common Ground and the Tea Shop in the ILC.

Huang said this idea is something that has been tried before but the AMS executive has not been able to agree with services on the conditions, so whether or not this is possible depends on the elected AMS executive.

“We [also] want to have debit cards accessible at Mac-Corry, the Lazy Scholar … that’s something we want to have on the side,” he said.

Interacting with administration is another concern for Team GAP who plan on adhering to the non-academic discipline system currently in place for residents.

“[The] administration’s view is very skewed,” Huang said. “They want to take the judicial power back from the students and there has been talks in previous years of punishing non-academic offenses … [underage drinking] with academic punishments. A lot of them wanted to list fines on academic transcripts. We believe in educational sanctions, fines and bonds. We don’t believe in a punitive system. [It could] effect career endeavours.”

Shaw, ArtSci ’13, said as a discipline facilitator she knows academic penalties would be detrimental to student welfare.

“If we were to take that away from first-years and only have academic transcripts I can’t imagine the amount of problems,” she said.

Huang said his past achievements show him to be the best person for the position of MCRC president. Serving as Leonard Hall house president, intern to vice-president (finance and operations), chair of Council Advisory Committee, chair of MCRC Board of Directors and event coordinator for Jean Royce Hall Council, Huang was involved in MCRC for the entirety of his undergraduate degree.

Kumar, Comm ’12, said she thinks the ethnic background of her team is representative of Queen’s. Her team has ties to China, Jamaica and India.

“We really think we can represent the diverse Queen’s body,” she said.

Team MFC plans on an open door policy when it comes to running Main Campus Residence Council (MCRC).

Presidential candidate Josh McCaul, vice-presidential (Residence Affairs) candidate Tuba Chishti and vice-presidential (Discipline) candidate Wesley Forget want to increase interaction between residents and MCRC.

“What we need across the board is … communication, between residence staff and first-years,” McCaul, ArtSci ’13 said. “The majority of first-years don’t know much about MCRC. They don’t know who the [executive are].”

McCaul, who has served MCRC as both a discipline facilitator and intern to the vice-president (discipline), said this can be remedied by providing residents with a more accessible website, an updated blog of events and administering a survey to students in their first week of residence asking ‘what do you want from your residence experience?’

Team MFC said they want to hold smaller, more regular events for residents in conjunction with larger initiatives like the trip to New York and annual semi-formal.

“These big grandiose events … are limiting especially on students who have financial instability. We want to increase the number of informal events. We want to look into the possibility of looking at game, movie residence spaces.”

Chishti, ArtSci ’14, currently the chair of the First-Year Advisory Committee, said her team wants to create incentives for first-years to participate in MCRC matters.

“The majority of people who live in residence are first years so it should be what they want,” she said, adding that as a first-year herself she’s well-suited to understanding the needs of residents.

“We’d like [the chair of the first- year advisory committee] to be a paid position because that one person sits on Assembly [and would] run the caucus,” she said. “I want for those floor [representatives] … to have a caucus where all of them can sit together and decide what first-years care about, what they need in residence, what kind of sustainability initiatives they like. The one thing I’m personally really looking forward to is amplifying the voices of first-years within MCRC.”

Equally important for Team MFC is the commitment to non-academic discipline for resident misbehaviour.

“We go by a non-academic discipline system that means it has no infringement on your university marks … we’re going to continue that,” Forget, ArtSci ’13, said.

Having acted as a discipline facilitator, a member of the Judicial Advisory Board and a member-at-large of the Peer Judicial Board, Forget said he thinks there are improvements to be made as to how students appeal their charges.

“The Judicial Board would get information and the dons would have written a Community Standards Incident Report and that’s all the information a Peer Judicial Board would get … they’d be just lost because there’s more information that a don could present,” he said. “[A don] could help the discipline process run more smoothly if they’d show up or give more information. I only saw once in two years a don show up to a hearing when a student tried to appeal the situation they’ve been found responsible for.”

Forget said this means more interaction between Residence Life and MCRC, which can be encouraged in the training week held in late August for dons.

“I want to see more of that fact pushed because that was not when I was trained as a discipline facilitator,” he said.

Click here for team GAP’s full platform, see.

Click here for Team MCF’s platform.

A debate will be held on Sunday at 7 p.m. in upper Victoria Hall common room.

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