Highlight the insularity problem of AMS
AMS formed an ad hoc committee on electoral engagement in April to examine the issue of declining voter turnout rates in the last elections (an ad hoc committee being a time-limited AMS project). Even if the committee includes students in general, it is limited to an investigative role and only three isolated students were selected be part of a committee of twelve.
AMS could have an insularity problem when only three students not affiliated with AMS are selected for a committee presenting recommendations to improve voter turnout for a population of 55,000 voters
This problem stems from a recent trend in AMS leadership to treat the student union more as a brand than a representative organization. Instead of consulting with students to participate in decision-making processes, AMS chooses to hire external companies and use internal committees with limited participation from students outside the organization.
For example: in 2014, AMS introduced a new logo, which cost $ 8,000, coincide with the opening of the Nest. Students in general were apathetic, even though they didn’t feel like spending that much money on a logo. Seven years later, AMS called on a consulting firm, engaging between $ 20,000 to $ 30,000 to update its brand guidelines.
Both times, students should have been consulted first to determine whether the funds allocated to branding were worth the cost. Ultimately, it is the students who foot the costs of AMS and foot the bill for these extraordinary beautification projects.
When it appears that AMS is potentially more concerned with the “The brand of the organization as a whole” as the students he claims to represent, the students who feel that AMS is not working for them become indifferent.
As the former Chief Electoral Officer Isabelle Ava-Pointon told me in a text message: “Student disengagement is a long-term problem … increasing voter turnout is regaining confidence and trust. interest of students in AMS as an institution.
The lack of lone student positions is not unique to the ad hoc committee on electoral engagement. The ad hoc committee on the principles and ethics of AMS Events did not a general student position. In addition, the ad hoc committee of the fermentation laboratory to bring a microbrewery to the campus does not have student representatives in general. You’d think a college campus would be filled with students interested in bringing a microbrewery to campus, but their lack of representation says otherwise.
Increased student participation in AMS must become a top priority. Ad hoc committees should have half of the members drawn from single student positions, and this policy should be implemented in the AMS internal code. The current number of free-roaming students comprising less than a quarter of committee members is unsustainable. The voices of external students should be duly consulted in ad hoc committees, and more opinions of these students should be recognized.
In addition, the student body at large should be consulted through online polls and non-binding public votes in these polls before any major financial movement by AMS. Although not binding, these votes will allow AMS to know the position of the entire student population with the leadership of the student union.
Every March, we don’t vote for a brand, we vote for a union. It is time for AMS management to start recognizing this fact.
Zack Crouch is a fourth year history student specializing in US imperialism. You will often find him brewing lattes at Blue Chip or reading a variety of books for his thesis. Contact Zack for questions / comments on Twitter @ zacharycrouch91.