Candidate profile: Cole Evans, president

AMS President Cole Evans is running uncontested for re-election to see the society’s COVID-19 response through.

Evans, a fourth-year political science major, bore both successes and controversy during his term. Now, he’s running on a platform of support for the COVID-19 recovery, an AMS governance review and creating an AMS equity unit.

“My passion really lies with AMS,” said Evans. “… That’s why I’m running for re-election, because I really want the AMS to succeed. I really want it to be an organization that students trust to be working for them.

“This is not a victory lap by any means. There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.”

Consultation is underway for the AMS’s equity plan, a project Evans picked up from his predecessor. In addition to seeing it finalized and planning its implementation, he wants to grow the AMS’s single equity position to a dedicated equity office.

As administrators plan for the possibility of in-person instruction this fall, Evans promised to champion student safety as Canada’s vaccine rollout hits roadblocks. He’s campaigning for an AMS COVID-19 recovery strategic plan, on-campus immunization clinics and a campus-wide rapid testing program.

However, the AMS came under fire under Evans’s administration last fall after AMS Events photos showed attendees flouting COVID-19 guidelines.

While an AMS Events organizational review is underway, Evans pledged to regain control over AMS Events by aligning its goals with the executive and having a manager report regularly to Council. However, the committee reviewing AMS Events management is expected to meet for the first time in March, months after it was created.

This year, students criticized Evans for driving attendance at the October AMS annual general meeting with cash prizes and the narrow approval of controversial bylaw changes that have failed for years. Evans has defended his record, pointing to other student societies who awarded prizes as an honest means of engaging students.

Calling the AMS “bureaucratic” and “inefficient,” Evans is campaigning for an AMS governance review.

However, accountability questions arose with his support for a new committee to investigate executive discipline on an ad hoc basis.

Evans faced a failed censure vote in April 2020 for missing a report deadline. Deeming the vote overkill for the offence, Evans recommended with Council support that the Governance Committee explore alternatives for exec discipline.

The result was the Ethics & Accountability Committee — which began VP External Kalith Nanayakkara’s conflict of interest review in mid-January, two months after the issue was referred to the committee.

When asked how creating a new committee in the mire of AMS governance wasn’t a move to avoid executive accountability, he said he wished the committee moved faster.

“Whatever decisions I’ve made in the last year as president or the last two years of being an AMS executive, whether they’ve been the right decisions, whether I’ve made some mistakes — at the end of the day, they’re decisions that are always made trying to help students the best I can.”

Voting is open online from March 1 until March 5. This article is part of our 2021 AMS elections coverage.