Candidate profile: Lauren Benson, VP administration

Second-year arts student Lauren Benson is running for AMS VP Administration, vowing to increase communication between the AMS and students and establish a COVID-19 recovery benefit for clubs.

As the first person to have held the role of digital media coordinator at the AMS, Benson said that she has fully immersed herself in the society’s operations and witnessed what goes on behind the scenes of many of its initiatives.

“[My] platform was made through talking to students and hearing the issues they are caring about firsthand,” Benson said. “This isn’t just a platform of things that I’ve come up [with] that I want to see, but these are things we all want to see.”

Benson praised her predecessor, Sylvester Mensah Jr, on his work with CampusBase, calling it a “great idea and great resource.” However, she took issue with the limited impact the platform had as well as the lack of open communication from the AMS around the service’s privacy issues.

Communication is a tenet of Benson’s platform. She said that she has observed a lot of negative feedback about the AMS from students while working as a digital media coordinator and said that many were uninformed about the programs and services the AMS could offer them.

“I was saddened when I saw the disconnect between students and the AMS, and in my position I knew I wanted to do more.”

Benson believes that the solution to this disconnect is to streamline communication through increasing the accessibility of AMS content, boosting social media engagement and creating spaces where execs can talk to students.

“The AMS communication line is broken right now, in my opinion,” Benson said.

She acknowledged that this task would be a big challenge, but one that she is nonetheless excited to tackle.

Benson said that in light of COVID-19, she plans to combat any challenges she may face by being adaptable and having multiple backup plans — but didn’t provide specifics.

A key initiative Benson is advocating for is a new clubs recovery benefit, which she said would provide online resources for student leaders, provide COVID-19 supplies like disposable masks and hand sanitizer if events are to be held in person and increase awareness of the existing video conferencing grant launched by the previous administration.

“There are so many platforms that clubs are learning how to navigate and worrying about the funds for that should be the least of their problems right now.”

When asked about how she would enforce mask wearing in the Nest, Benson said she would both approach it from an educational standpoint and continue check-ins with security to ensure compliance.

“[We will put out] frequent COVID-19 updates and really clear-cut information so students have a good understanding of this is what’s expected if you are in this building and that this is something we follow to keep everyone safe,” Benson said.

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