Alma Mater Society of Queen's University
Vice-President (University Affairs)
|Affiliations||Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance|
The Alma Mater Society of Queen's University, otherwise known as the AMS, is the central undergraduate student association at Queen’s University in Canada. It is the oldest organization of its kind in Canada. Its roots lie in the old Dialectic Society (now known as the Queen's Debating Union), which created the AMS in 1858.
An umbrella organization, the AMS each year hires over 500 student employees and 1500 volunteers, as it works with member faculty societies to offer resources, services, support, and opportunities to Queen’s students.
Structure and organization
The Society's ultimate authority lies with the AMS Assembly, which is composed of elected representatives from each of the nine member faculty societies (Arts and Science, Engineering and Applied Science, Concurrent Education, M.B.A., Commerce, Nursing, Medicine, Physical and Health Education, and Computing), as well as non-voting representatives of the Residence Society.
The Assembly is the premier student democratic body of both the Society and the University. It holds bi-annual referendums and annual elections to affirm representatives, approve or change student fees, and even gather student approval for different initiatives and plans. The referendums and elections are bolstered by an Annual General Meeting or AGM, typically held in March, which contains a broad agenda of student issues and opens voting to any current students in attendance.
The three-person AMS Executive oversee the student society's general operations and representation. The executive is elected annually in January as a slate with the positions of AMS President, Vice-President (Operations) & CEO, and Vice-President (University Affairs). Responsibilities are generally divided along the lines of the corporate and government sides of the AMS, with the VP University Affairs overseeing the five commissions and two of the three Government Offices, the VP Operations managing three student directors and their many corporate services, and the President responsible for managing four Offices, representing the Society and liaising with the administration. The executive is elected for a one-year term of service lasting from May 1 to April 30.
AMS Executive Team
The day-to-day operations of the AMS are overseen by the AMS Executive Team (formerly known as the "AMS Council") which includes the three-person AMS Executive, four commissioners, one government director, four services directors, and four office directors. The Executive Team is responsible for the operational implementation of AMS objectives from year to year, with major decisions being made in regard to service operation, stances on advocacy and causes (including representation to the provincial government through OUSA), and general management of their portfolios.
The four Commissioners on the Executive Team each oversee their own Commission, which form the bulk of the "government side" of the AMS government. The Commissions are responsible for the organization and oversight of a variety of student programs, activities, community initiatives, external representation, and social causes. As of the 2017/2018 academic year, the Commissions are: (1) Academic Affairs, (2) Campus Activities, (3) Municipal Affairs, and (4) Social Issues.
In 2016–2017, the Commission of Environmental Affairs was dissolved, causing some controversy amongst the student body. The AMS Executive at the time argued that environmental initiatives would be better served by mandating sustainability initiatives within each department, rather than having a single Commission which centrally coordinated these efforts. However, members of the student body were not satisfied, and accused the AMS of attempting to undermine pro-environmental activities on campus.
Seven Offices exists, five of which report to the AMS President. Four of these offices are overseen by the Directors of: (1) Human Resources; (2) Communications; (3) Information Technology; and (4) Advancement, the last of which is responsible for sponsorship and maintaining contact with AMS alumni. In addition, as of the 2017/2018 academic year, the Office of the Secretariat also falls under the President's portfolio; the Secretary oversees elections and referenda, as well as the administrative functioning of the AMS Assembly.
There are a further two Offices which exist under the auspices of the Vice-President (University Affairs). The Clubs Office, led by the Director of Clubs, is responsible for overseeing the nearly 300 AMS-ratified student clubs. The Judicial Affairs Office, led by the Judicial Affairs Manager, is one half of the AMS’s peer-administered system of restorative, non-academic discipline. (The other half, the Judicial Committee, shares resources with the Office of the Secretariat, but is otherwise constitutionally separated from any Office or Commission in order to ensure independence.)
The three Service Directors oversee, directly or indirectly, the operation of the AMS's services and businesses, arranged under three broad umbrellas:
- Hospitality & Safety Services Director
- Common Ground Coffeehouse
- The AMS Pub Services (TAPS), operating both The Queen's Pub ("QP") and The Underground nightclub
- Queen's Student Constables (QSC or "StuCons")
- Retail Services Director
- Publishing & Copy Centre (P&CC)
- Tricolour Outlet (formerly Destinations and The AMS Merchandise Services, operating The Used Bookstore & Tricolour Outfitters)
- Media Services Director
- Studio Q (combining the former Queen's TV and Yearbook & Design Services)
The AMS was formed as an offshoot of the Dialectic Society, the precursor to the Queen's Debating Union. It split off to form an independent organization in 1858.
The AMS was incorporated in 1969 as a non-profit organization without share capital; the Assembly representatives also serve as the voting members of the corporation, and they annually elect a Board of Directors that oversees the services and financial affairs of the Society. These affairs currently have an annual operations budget of approximately $16 million.
At its inception, the AMS represented all students attending Queen’s University. However, that changed in 1981 when the Graduate Students’ Society (GSS), an AMS member society formed in 1962, voted by referendum to secede from the AMS. This secession developed out of a conflict around graduate student representation, student services, policy positions, and other issues. In the 1990s, the AMS saw the Theological Society and the Law Students’ Society also leave the AMS - the latter over a dispute regarding student constables - to join the GSS. Through an amendment to its constitution and by-laws, the GSS was renamed the Queen's University Society of Graduate and Professional Students, in order to recognize the membership of professional students, including law, divinity, and occupational health students.
The AMS currently represents approximately 15,500 students, each of whom becomes a member of the Society upon paying the mandatory student activity fee along with their tuition. Membership in the AMS is mandatory for those in full-time study in one of the AMS-constituent faculties.
Today, the AMS seeks to enhance both the academic and extracurricular experience of its members while fostering connections with the surrounding community.
Provincially, the AMS is a founding member of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA), and thus initially became a member at its foundation 1992; however, the AMS left the organization in 1995. In 2004, the AMS rejoined OUSA as full members, after a number of years as associate observers.
Federally, the AMS joined the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) in 2009 on a one-year associate membership basis. The one-year associate member status expired without renewal in 2010.
- Queen's University
- The Queen's Journal
- Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance
- Canadian Alliance of Student Associations
- List of Ontario students' associations
- "Queen's Encyclopedia". Archived from the original on 6 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-19.
- Whig-Standard March 27, 2009
- "Updated: AMS executive disband Commission on Environmental Affairs | The Journal". www.queensjournal.ca. Retrieved 2017-10-13.
- "ESS Students vote 'yes' to leave the AMS". The Queen's Journal. 2009-01-23.
- "The Price of a Reckless Promise". The Queen's Journal. 2009-03-27.
- "AMS votes to align federally". The Queen's Journal. 2009-02-02.