Between the Motions: 2021 AMS elections to be held online, student service financials, food bank updates at Council

AMS Council met on Wednesday night for its last meeting of 2020 to discuss next year’s elections, student services usage this term and the society’s financial statements from 2019/20.

Here’s what you missed.

The future is now: AMS elections will be fully online amid pandemic

The 2021 AMS elections will be completely online, after Council approval to suspend portions of code requiring in-person contact at last night’s meeting.

AMS Chief Electoral Officer Isabelle Ava-Pointon presented the changes eliminating all need for any in-person interactions to both run for office and to vote.

Campaigning and candidate form submission will be all virtual. There will be no in-person poll booths — something Ava-Pointon said was unlikely to affect turnout because poll booths are more for raising awareness rather than acting as a voting place.

Answering a question about consequences for in-person campaigning, Ava-Pointon said that the AMS Elections Committee would consider any in-person campaigning a breach of election rules.

“I would consider that quite a severe breach of the rules if they’re willing to put their political career ahead of people’s health,” she said.

The financials of walking safely with Safewalk and other services

Ian Stone, now acting senior manager of student services after a management shuffle in November, presented updates on the AMS’s seven services with Emily Pearson, associate student services manager.

This year’s services are costing more per interaction than in previous years, something Stone attributed to the pandemic.

AMS Peer Support costs the AMS $449 per student interaction, with Safewalk at about $250 per interaction.

According to a financial overview of AMS services covering May 1 to October 15, 2019, those two services cost significantly less per interaction last year.

Before Vice and Speakeasy merged into Peer Support, the two services cost the AMS $136.72 per interaction, combined — Vice cost $22.15 per interaction and Speakeasy cost $114.57 per interaction. Safewalk cost $34.03 per interaction.

Stone justified the Peer Support increase to training costs, and Safewalk’s to the small number of students on campus.

“Costs are generally higher at the beginning because we spent a lot of money on training, so we have a very well prepared team. But we’re now moving into a lot of promotion outreach,” Stone said of Peer Support.

He expects that due to the increase of first years in residence next term, more people will use Safewalk.

Baby steps: AMS reallocates childcare money to Acadia Park community food hub

AMS Council approved the transfer of $58 thousand from the underspent childcare bursary fund to the Acadia Park community food hub.

Dr. Jennifer Katz, an associate professor in the faculty of education, has been running the service with the help of Dr. Jennifer Shapka, the director of graduate programs, in the faculty of education. Stone said Katz was spending $1,500 weekly out of pocket.

“They’re doing it out of the kindness of their own heart, which is absolutely bewildering but incredibly awesome,” Stone said.

The AMS food bank will take over the hub’s operations from Katz in the new year.

The AMS will use the reallocated money to reimburse Katz and purchase childcare supplies such as diapers and formula for the hub.