Bikes and Boards, The Commission of Environmental Affairs (CEA), and the closing of Fluid. What do these seemingly unrelated instances have in common–The AMS. That’s right the Alma Mater Society has been behind every major change to campus life and the Student Ghetto–cough* “University District* cough cough–and I’m about to prove it. So strap-in, strap-on and enjoy the ride.
It all started back with HOCO 13’, or for those of you that don’t know, it was the first homecoming after a series of “Fauxcomings” that went back to the famous student initiated bonfire involving a pale blue car and the collective regrets of the sober population. Yes dear friends, across those two weekends of homecoming bliss, where “Don’t Fuck it Up” was the punchline, Mayor Mark Gerretsen’s infamous “Not Good” became the phrase that launched 1000 memes. At that moment, the AMS decided that our University needed to change. Their mandate was aimed at reducing the negative press that the University receives from the collective stupidity of few-to-most students, sober or otherwise.
Deep in the bowels of the JDUC the AMS executive meticulously poured their heart and soul into a long-term strategic plan for the continued success of the University: for weeks they held open forums, had multiple consultations to hear the student voice, and ran a transparent campaign, before scrapping it all and choosing the second option–the one they decided was in the best interest of students behind closed doors–sound familiar? Even if it doesn’t now, it will next Fall.
The rebranding of the University District signalled the end of an era, and with the new signs that all but screamed student suburbia, the AMS took the first step straight through our hearts. Did you ever wonder why they bothered to auction off the old street signs? Well with those many hundreds of dollars, they did what any self-respecting governing body would do, and donated it all to the underage drinkers of Kingston fund to put towards cover costs at Fluid. And do you know what happened next, Fluid just so happened to shut down over underage drinking. Coincidence?
With the AMS’ cock-blocking of Fluid (seriously just look at the logo) in June of 2016, Queen’s students had one less “respectable” place to party, adding to longer lines at Ale, and Stages, and The Spo–… Well two of those anyway. It was only a matter of time before a house party would take things too far, and when that happened, the AMS was ready to pounce. Cut to November 2016, and the infamous costume party that put Queen’s on the National map for all the wrong reasons. Boom, a quick statement later and now there is a Committee focused on the issues of racism and diversity on campus.
Well this may seem like a good end (it actually is by the way), it was only a matter of time before another party would be the focus of debate. With the magnifying glass firmly fixed on house parties the stage was set for the Orientation Week Teach scandal. In a move to make O-Week more inclusive, or less frightening, SOARB asked Teaches to avoid the traditional hickey party. On the surface this seems like a rational decision, yet if the participants were all willing, and a casual orgy breaks out, does SOARB have the right to intercede over the presence or absence of hickies? Can SOARB control what happens to someone’s body? What’s next, the casual bullying of the SHRC by the AMS over something like, oh I don’t know, becoming an AMS service? Oh wait, throwback to 2015.
Is the AMS clamping down on the drinking and sex lives of University students? Is the environment at Queen’s turning into a parent friendly day-care for young adults? Do fortune cookies have any bearing on my life and future successes? At least one of those are probably true!
Well even if we are headed towards turtlenecks as a school uniform with nothing but actual water in tinted water bottles, at least the AMS is staying true to a sustainable future. They even made a blog about it on August 22nd: “Many students have told us in the past few months that they want us to place a greater focus on sustainable advocacy and environmental action…” Alright that makes sense, though coming off of the January 19th, 2017 AMS referendum that limited speaking time for students to voice their concerns and ultimately resulted in the dissolution of the Commission on Environmental Affairs, it might be tough to shift the focus back on a sustainable campus. Taking a look at the current AMS exec’s platform outline “sustainable” shows up twice, and “sustainability” appears 12 times, including my personal favourite: “to ensure the long-term financial sustainability of the Journal” (Page 57 of 72).
Huh, well call me Shirley and remove salaried positions from Bikes and Boards then. Clearly the $8.62 mandatory student fee doesn’t help. To put that into perspective, Queen’s First Aid gets $3.75, the Sexual Assault Crisis Centre gets $1.00, and the Campus Observation Room gets $0.85. That’s right, slightly over 10 COR’s could exist on the Journal’s mandatory fee alone, and I would argue that the COR easily serves more students than the Journal does.
This relationship between the AMS and the Journal should come as no surprise, as there was an article published on February 16th, 2017 in–you guessed it, the Journal–with the AMS congratulating the new Editor-in-Chief. And if you think back on how it all started, who published then Mayor Mark Gerretsen’s statements about HOCO 13’? That’s right, the Journal, and now Gerretsen is our MP.