Meet the Candidates: VP Finance
The VP Finance is responsible for preparing the annual LSS budget, keeping the student body informed about finances, and managing the LSS’s financial activity. He or she also works with the Clubs Governance Committee to oversee ratification, funding, and governance of LSS Clubs.
We asked our three candidates where they’d like to see the money go next year.
Juris Diction: Why are you running for this position?
Ashley Pitcher (AP): I am running for VP Finance because I believe it is a vital role in our law school community. Clubs and events are part of what makes QL amazing — the funding the LSS provides helps to get these initiates off the ground and I want to be involved in that process. Also, I feel that VP Finance is the Core position, given my education and background, that I am most qualified for and the position where I can be the most effective for the student body.
Michael Scott (MS): The reason I am running for the position of Vice President, Finance for the LSS is two-fold: my suitability and my desire to give back to the Queen’s Law community. I know that I have the necessary skills and experience to excel in this position (see the next question). I have deeply enjoyed and greatly benefited from the Queen’s Law community over the past two years; I want to give back to the community.
Joel Schachter (JS): The reason I am running for this position is because I love being involved with Queen’s Law, and I think that I have the skillset to do a good job as VP Finance.
During my undergrad, I was totally apathetic and way too cynical to do any extracurricular activities or be involved with my school. I decided that when I came to Queen’s I was going to see what happened if I actually engaged in some of these types of things. The decision paid immediate dividends. I went to every single orientation event, met tons of people, and had an unbelievable time. If you had told me a year ago that I was going to be part of the 1L dance or part of the QLJ — and actually derive pleasure out of either of these activities — I would not have believed you. Becoming involved with QL outside the classroom has definitely been the most unexpected highlight of going to law school.
One thing I did do during my undergraduate degree was study. I studied Economics, and I also took a Managerial Accounting class. I understand that part of my responsibility will be preparing the LSS budget, reporting on finances to the student body, and managing the financial activity of the LSS. I feel that my undergraduate degree has provided me with the requisite skills to do these tasks well.
The opportunity to combine the skills I developed in my undergraduate degree with my passion for making QL the best law school experience of all the Ivy League schools make me a good candidate for this position.
What qualifications/past experience do you have that you think will help you if you are elected?
AP: Both my education and work experience has set me up nicely to be a great candidate for the VP Finance position. I have an Advanced Diploma in Accounting and a Bachelor of Business Administration. Since graduation I have worked in various positions most of which have been accounting/finance related. I have successfully managed a budget for the Applied Research Department at St. Lawrence College, which also included mini-budgets for specific events throughout the year. In addition to undergrad and work experience, I have represented my year as Secretary-Treasurer this year. It has been an amazing experience and I have gotten to meet a lot of great people this year. I learned how the LSS works and I feel like I have a good understanding of what the VP Finance role entails.
If elected, I have the experience and skills to successfully manage the LSS accounts so that QL can get the most for their money, as well as help individual events with any financial management they might need.
MS: I bring a broad array of academic qualifications and experiences to this post. My background is in Economics. I also completed the Master of Public Administration program at Queen’s.
I also have extensive relevant experience. I previously served as the Treasurer and a Director for a not-for-profit bicycle repair shop, Bikechain, with an annual operating budget of approximately $70,000. I chaired the Finance Committee of the student government of Trinity College. I also acted as Deputy Auditor and Auditor for this student government as well.. Additionally, I served on the budget review committee of the Arts and Science Students’ Union at U of T and sat on the Board of Directors of the U of T Students’ Union.
I have also been involved here at Queen’s. I serve on the LSS Club Governance Committee. I am also a News Editor for Juris Diction and have been involved in a variety of other clubs and committees. I will bring this passion for the student community and my experience in Finance to this position.
JS: Academics aside, one of the experiences that I think has prepared me most for this position is working at summer camp. I worked for five summers at a summer camp in the interior of British Columbia. The biggest lesson I took away from the experience is if you are only meeting the requirements of your job title, you are missing out on half the experience. Most of my best memories working at summer camp come from things that I did or organized that had nothing to do with my job title.
I think working on LSS is in some ways perfectly analogous to working at a summer camp. My title might be VP Finance, but in reality there is so much more to be done on council than the annual budget and financial reporting. I think the fact that I see running for VP Finance as a means to get more involved with Queen’s Law rather than an end in itself is the biggest strength of my candidacy.
What are some of the challenges you see for Queen’s Law right now? How would you tackle one of those challenges?
AP: QL is a place with many brilliant people with great ideas. Sometimes these ideas just need a little TLC to get them off the ground, and that is where I come in. My idea would be to make myself available so we can work together to make sure everybody gets what they are looking for out of their law school experience.
MS: The LSS needs to ensure that all the members of our community benefit from the services we provide. One excellent way to do this is through the numerous clubs within Queen’s Law. If I’m elected, I want to make it as easy as possible for Queen’s Law clubs to get funding under the club regulations.
We also need to ensure that LSS resources are used effectively. We have the (happy) problem that the LSS has accumulated a significant cash reserve. While we should maintain a reserve sufficient to hedge against a number of risks, the LSS is presently taking in significantly more money than it expends. These resources should be expended by delivering services to law students.
JS: There are many challenges I see facing QL including promoting diversity, ensuring students have effective stress management skills, and ensuring effective communication between the LSS and the rest of the student body.
I would really like to increase the extent to which students are heard when the LSS is making decisions. This year, one of the issues that has been discussed on the Faculty Board and within the LSS is how to improve the Legal Skills/Legal Research and Writing component of first year. I think that it was great that the LSS organized the coffee/donut open discussion in the lounge to get suggestions from the student body about this issue. If I am elected, I will continue to make it a priority to keep the student body informed. Personally, I think blending humour with information is a great way to keep people engaged.
Who is your favourite judge, past or present?
AP: I would say Chief Justice McLachlin, is my favorite judge. She is clear, concise, and at least in the judgments I’ve read, she is a lot less of a fan of the tangent than some other judges.
MS: Justice Ian Binnie… What a writer
JS: Justice Thomas Cromwell is my favourite judge. I find that his judgements are clear and forward-thinking. I am basing this off the Bhasin v. Hrynew decision that he wrote for a unanimous court. He also is a Queen’s grad, which I think is something we can all be proud of.
What areas of the law school (clubs, committees, et.c) would you like to see get more funding next year and why?
AP: I would love to see events like Med-Law Games, Cabaret for a Cure, and Lawlapalooza to get more funding. These are events that get us together as a group and get us out into the larger Queen’s and Kingston communities. These events are part of what makes Queen’s Law so special and I want to see them continued for years and years to come.
MS: As I have said, we need to ensure a more efficient use of student resources. A large cash reserve is not in the best interest of the student body. Yet we must ensure this expenditure is not wasteful; it must deliver benefits for students. One of the key areas where funding can work for students is through law student clubs. These clubs deliver numerous useful services and allow the LSS to better connect with our diverse community.
JS: I think that clubs that provide 1L students with an opportunity to practice their oral advocacy skills should receive more funding.
The particular club I would like to see receive more funding is the Minute-Moot Club. The club is run by Ben Segel-Brown and the way it works is simple: every few weeks, everyone gets together and he presents club members with a fact pattern which they then have 30-40 minutes to read and prepare one- or two-minute submissions. For the last 20 minutes, everyone takes turns presenting their submissions, and then gets feedback. I know that a lot of 1Ls want to improve their oral advocacy skills but do not necessarily want to invest a huge amount of time in doing so. I think the Minute-Moot Club strikes the perfect balance.
This interview is the second in a series that will run until Tuesday profiling each of the candidates for the 2015-16 LSS Core Elections. The questions were designed by Juris Diction’s election coverage committee, which does not include any of the candidates who sit on either of Juris Diction’s two boards or current members of the LSS Core. The views expressed are those of the candidates only; they have not been edited for content and do not reflect the views of Juris Diction or any of its board members.
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