We can’t be lenient on supporting student politicians that don’t meet our expectations, even when there’s no alternative. We need to expect better.
In a 19-0 vote with one abstention, The Journal Editorial Board voted to not endorse Team ECN for the 2018-19 AMS executive.
Team ECN, comprised of Emily Vanderheyden, Craig Draeger and Natasha Kornak, is the only team campaigning to be our AMS executive this year.
The decision not to support ECN didn’t come easily. At the end of the day, The Journal endorsement isn’t a prediction of the election results; it’s a stamp of approval for the team that proves to us they can make the school a better place than it is now.
We want a team that inspires change, one that’s willing to surpass the ambition of their predecessors. A hasty platform shouldn’t be a winning one, and just because ECN is the only team doesn’t mean they have to receive our support.
There was some great potential in Team ECN’s platform. Unfortunately, they couldn’t demonstrate they were prepared to get all of the things they’re promising done. Many of their current platform points involve what they plan to implement in the redeveloped JDUC. However, the JDUC revitalization project isn’t set to break ground until the end of their potential term.
Although ECN could plan for things like more gender-neutral washrooms, an Indigenous student lounge and increased club space during their time in office, they can’t promise students that subsequent executives will honor those plans.
Many of their platform points also included creating new jobs as well as adding funding to clubs and initiatives. Worryingly, the team didn’t effectively demonstrate how they would navigate these added expenses coupled with the recent minimum wage hike.
For the majority of the endorsement meeting, Presidential candidate Vanderheyden rarely spoke. Both Draeger and Kornak were more than willing to step in on every question the group was asked, and more often than not, Vanderheyden was left with nothing to add.
If elected, Vanderheyden is going to be representing students by liaising with Queen’s administration and the Board of Trustees. However, in an endorsement meeting where both Vice-Presidential candidates overpowered her on every issue, she didn’t convince us she was going to be able to put up much of a fight for students.
It’s not a set expectation that the Presidential candidate of an AMS team dominates the conversation. On the contrary, balance between the candidates would have been something to support. But what we saw was a team with three very different members working towards a common goal, but never actually working together.
For a team with years of extracurricular experience on campus, ECN gave no indication of how their past positions would prepare them for the executive roles. Instead, they credited themselves with personal anecdotes and asked us to trust them.
In their hour and a half interview, each member of ECN gave their teammates high praise in an attempt to show they were worthy candidates. In one unprompted instance, Kornak emphatically stated that Vanderheyden was the best manager she’s ever seen, and in the same breath, admitted she had never worked with her in an official capacity.
Throughout the endorsement meeting, each member of Team ECN retroactively called for some comments to be ‘off the record.’ It’s common to encounter this in journalism, even student journalism. But seeing it multiple times in a meeting centred around trying to convince a student newspaper to endorse you, all while repeating how committed you are to being transparent with the student body, doesn’t bode well.
When someone makes a mistake in the digital age it will follow them for a long time. While Kornak and Vanderheyden may have forgiven Draeger for his past mistakes, the student body is under no obligation to do the same.
We can’t forgive so easily; we can’t allow racialized students to continue to be let down by those that would become their representatives.
Despite his obvious capabilities, the racist video Draeger was a part of several years ago isn’t something we can separate from his campaign. Regardless of whether or not he’s apologized, Queen’s has a terrible history and omnipresent record of tearing racialized people down. If we endorse Team ECN, we’re allowing that to become acceptable of our campus leaders when it should be a disqualifying factor.
We can’t tell our peers to settle for less than they deserve. We can’t judge the people the AMS would vote in instead of them, but we can judge these people. We won’t accept this kind of executive team anymore.
Our vote is a symbolic one and we couldn’t justify giving our endorsement to a team we don’t have confidence in.
— Journal Editorial Board
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