Queen's musical lobby groups
By Sara Marett
Queen's University, which has had roller-coaster relationships in the past with student lobby groups, is considering strapping in for another ride.
Both the Queen's Alma Mater Society, its undergraduate student union, and the Graduate Students' Society have belonged to lobby groups in the past. The AMS belonged to the Canadian Federation of Students until 1990, when they pulled out of the organization because of "perceived ills" with the federation, said AMS president-elect Tom Stanley.
Then in 1992, it decided to join the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, but pulled out in 1995 due to accountability concerns with the lobby group, Stanley said.
Queen's GSS joined CFS in 1983 and was a member until 1991 when their executive became opposed to their membership with the federation, said Brad Lavigne, national chair of CFS. Because of implications with how the GSS went about withdrawing from the organization, their de-ratification wasn't legally recognized by CFS until 1996, Lavigne explained. "There is no reason why they can't apply for membership now however, if they would like to rejoin."
The GSS currently belongs to the National Graduate Council, the graduate caucus of the CFS, and is considering becoming an official member of the lobby group again.
The idea of looking into lobby group membership was a high-profile campaign promise of the newly-elected AMS executive during their recent election. "We have achieved a lot of success lobbying on our own accords on a provincial level, but there is a lot going on right now at the federal level and were starting to realize that it wouldn't be a bad thing to be aligned again," Stanley said.
He explained the incoming AMS will be reviewing the different lobby groups to determine which they would like to join. Stanley said he has in particular been watching the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations over the past year and has been impressed with their success. "Their way [of lobbying] is more aligned with Queen's."
Having Queen's as part of CASA would definitely raise the profile of the association, said the group's regional director Ryan Parks. "It's been a real showcase year for CASA and more membership in Ontario would be great."
The AMS' satisfaction with their own lobbying efforts on a provincial level may be reason enough to not re-join a provincial lobby group like OUSA. But if they do decide they would like provincial representation, OUSA would certainly open their doors for them. "We would be happy to have Queen's on board again.They were one of our founding members and it was unfortunate they had to leave before," said Rick Martin, executive director of OUSA.