Wednesday night’s AMS presidential debate saw discussion on student engagement and advocacy priorities for the AMS.
The two presidential candidates, Team WRL’s Allison Williams and Team SMH’s Scott Mason, both ArtSci ’14, also debated about sanctioned Homecoming events, enrolment, relations with faculty societies and other issues facing the AMS.
When asked about Homecoming, Mason advocated for the beer tent that is featured in SMH’s platform.
He said the beer tent is a realistic option, as opposed to WRL’s idea of a Tricolour Festival.
“The Homecoming Working Group rejected [the Tricolour Festival],” he said. “We have to be realistic as student leaders, or we’re going to lose out on student programing.”
Mason also brought up the concept of introducing a deputized campus police force, akin to one at the University of Toronto. He said this would put an unsanctioned Aberdeen St. party under the University’s control.
“I would be a lot more amenable speaking to campus security than a police officer,” he said.
Williams said a deputized police force wouldn’t be a good idea, especially in light of the behaviour of London, Ontario’s LEARN police force, which uses off-duty police to patrol student areas. Last September, officers gave out a $140 ticket to Western’s cheerleading team after they gave a performance on their way to a football game.
“The way they saw students treated and the way they were treated differently was concerning,” Williams said. “It’s not something I want to bring to Queen’s.”
Williams said WRL’s Tricolour Festival would be serviced by an external contractor, since TAPS and Student Constables services are at capacity during Homecoming already.
The candidates were asked if they feel enrolment is too high, too low or about right.
Enrolment increases have been handled well by the Faculty of Arts and Science, as they have offered new programs through continuing and distance studies, Mason said.
“The University’s hands are tied by the province … [they] are handling it well,” he said.
Williams said the enrolment White Paper she wrote with the AMS’s Thomas Pritchard and Catherine Wright, along with AMS advocacy efforts, has had an effect on enrolment policy at Queen’s.
“The amount of students they wanted to enroll has been clawed back,” she said.
The University should seek alternative revenue streams, she said, such as programs offered online or on satellite campuses.
When asked about the visibility of the Executive, Mason said the AMS Executive must connect better with the students it represents.
“Student engagement is falling. Applications the AMS have been receiving have been on the decline,” he said.
Mason said this could be due to an atmosphere of professionalism, and negativity within the AMS.
“If I was in the role [of president], I would try to be an advocate who was positive,” he said.
Student engagement is a pillar of the WRL platform, Williams said. Some of the team’s ideas include marketing street teams who would gather feedback from students, and a monthly morning show to update students.
“It would be a video at the end of every month to say hello, and have some guests on to say what we’ve been doing,” she said
In his closing statement, Mason chose to address his recent struggle with having his identity stolen.
“I would be lying if I said the [theft] doesn’t deeply affect me. [The AMS] is not about this,” he said. He then connected this to his desire to change the culture of the AMS to be more positive.
“We have a culture that turns people away,” he said.
“We’re supposed to reflect the diversity of students. We should work hard to include every single student.” In her closing statement, Williams said Mason’s speech had brought up important issues, and that she was amending her statement to keep it brief.
“We are not three individuals, but a team. I believe we are more than the sum of our parts,” she said. “I hope we are able to bring that to the AMS.”
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