The spell of SDL

Presidential candidate Sacha Gudmundsson (right)
Image by: Justin Tang
Presidential candidate Sacha Gudmundsson (right)

Presidential candidate Sacha Gudmundsson, vice-president (Operations) candidate Dan Szczepanek, and vice-president (University Affairs) candidate Lara Therrien Boulos are big on fun, but just as big on ideas.

With nine main points in their ‘REDesign’ platform and numerous suggestions to improve the commissions and services, they have a lot to work with.

The REDesign calls for a VIP Birthday line-skip at Alfie’s where students can skip the line with three friends during the week of their birthday.

Team SDL’s platform also includes the development of an online database of resources to provide students with support when graduating. The database would include information about interview preparation workshops and a calendar of job and graduate school fairs for the 2011-12 year.

Team SDL has made mental health awareness a focus of their platform and said they want to collaborate with Eric Windeler, Comm ’82, in support of the Jack Project to fight mental illness at Queen’s. Windeler’s son Jack, ArtSci ’13, committed suicide last March in his Leonard Hall residence room. The Jack Project aims to reduce stigma surrounding mental health issues and increase mental health support services.

Gudmundsson, ArtSci ’11, said that because one in four people face mental health issues, it’s important to make resources more available.

“We would be interested in hosting one initial mental health conference in the early fall for organizations to come together and discuss different objectives and initiatives they have,” she said.

Therrien Boulos, ArtSci ’11, said the point of the conference would be for these organizations to find ways to collaborate each other instead of duplicating services already on campus.

Bringing information to students is a major focus for team SDL.

They plan to do this through the ‘South of Union’ approach.

“No one comes to the JDUC anymore, and it’s ridiculous for AMS to assume students will come there to ask questions,” Gudmundsson said, adding that she wants to establish AMS booths in Bio Sci, Goodes Hall and other places on campus.

“We’ll have booths set up in various places on campus with AMS information set out on table. AMS reps will be right there to interact with students,” Szczepanek, ArtSci ’11, said. “If a student doesn’t know someone in the AMS office it’s a very intimidating place. If a student sees a person’s face on campus they would be more comfortable going into the office.”

According to Szczepanek, using the South of Union approach and making the municipal affairs commissioner especially available on campus during November and December will give students the opportunity to learn about housing conditions and availability in the Student Ghetto.

“Students don’t know that landlords aren’t allowed to kick them out of their houses without notice, or that landlords are required to uphold property standards,” Therrien Boulos said.

Team SDL wants to reintroduce the Golden Cockroach award and Key to the Village awards in order to ultimately improve students’ relations with landlords.

“We think it’s important to highlight poor housing situations in order to warn other students,” Therrien Boulos said, adding the Golden Cockroach award is an AMS award given to landlords responsible for the worst properties in the Student Ghetto and it often caused landlords to make changes to their properties and improve housing standards.

“Landlords whose properties won this award have ended up winning the Key to the Village awards [for best properties] the next year,” she said.

Keeping a balanced budget is another priority for Team SDL.

Szczepanek said stricter financial review is necessary in all aspects of the AMS.

“We need to do monthly internal reviews—sit down each month with individual commissioners to ensure there is full transparency of all AMS and that spending is happening in a responsible matter,” he said.

SDL commits to making AMS assembly less intimidating and more accessible by having meet and greets with the executive prior to AMS assembly and offering web tutorials that explain how its run. SDL also wants to expand employment opportunities by allowing one semester employment terms for students who are athletes and those going on exchange for one semester.

Gudmundsson said the most important part of Team SDL’s platform is collaboration.

“It comes down to work with the students,” she said. “We want to all work together and realize that even though we have a team, its not just the three of us—its about students and providing opportunities for Queen’s students to shape their own experiences.”

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