Statement by the AMS President
“Tonight, AMS Assembly approved a motion to conduct an external investigation on the allegations regarding the AMS President in The Queen’s Journal from November 9th. Please find below, the statement by the AMS President at Assembly prior to the motion being passed.” -Communications Office
November 26, 2018
After much reflection, I have decided to respond to some of the allegations about my conduct that were published in the Queen’s Journal on November 9. Since that article was released, I have listened to the concerns of many students and student leaders alike. I expect that I will hear from many more students going forward, and I welcome their feedback.
I believe that this article omitted critical details and I hope that I can provide greater clarity on the situation.
First of all, Brandon Tyrrell was not dismissed as Judicial Affairs Manager for conducting a Policy Infringement Protocol (PIP) investigation on me, as the Journal article headline suggested. Furthermore, I had no involvement at all in the termination of his employment in the AMS, as I was away from the office in the days leading up to that action. Tyrrell’s PIP investigation, while nominally addressing me, actually took aim at the Student Conduct Office. He claimed that they provided me special treatment while processing the non-academic misconduct case related to my actions at QMP. He alleged, without evidence, that I had abused my power in order to enact this. That allegation is categorically false.
The Student Conduct Office is a professional department led by people with integrity. Even if pressure were enacted on them by some outside individual, there is no reason to think that they would bow to it. Furthermore, I was not yet AMS President at the time that I went through the NAM process and received my sanctions, so I truly had no influence to inappropriately exert over the Office. Like all students who own up to their poor decisions and want to make them right, I was treated objectively and impartially by the University.
When any person, being investigated for allegedly violating policy, raises concerns with the process being undertaken, policy allows for very specific actions to address these concerns. Those avenues include declaring a conflict of interest or raising concerns to the Judicial Affairs Manager or to the Judicial Committee Chair (as appropriate). As such, I contacted the Judicial Committee Chair to raise my concerns with the process the Manager was following. After this meeting, I was not contacted about the investigation again until about a week later on October 26th when I received an email from Tyrrell informing me that he had dropped his PIP investigation due to a lack of evidence.
Tyrrell decided that my contacting the Judicial Committee Chair was a gross abuse of power that had interfered with his investigation so severely that it could not move forward. In reality, I had followed the only remedy permitted in policy that allowed me to have my concerns addressed by an impartial third party.
He had every opportunity to follow the rules and file for a hearing in order to advance the investigation. Instead, he decided to send a dossier containing confidential and highly sensitive information to the Queen’s Journal in breach of his employment contract and the Agency agreement between the University and the AMS which also included private and personal information about me completely unrelated to my role as AMS President. I’m not in any way criticising the Journal’s right to publish the information, but it represented an irresponsible abuse of professional trust by Tyrrell to have sent it to them. His public assertion that he acted in the interest of public safety severely strains credulity.
Make no mistake, this breach of confidentiality should trouble every person on this campus. It goes far beyond my personal wellbeing. Our entire system of student government is based on a common trust, a belief that our peers will act with professionalism and honesty when placed in positions of authority. Brandon Tyrrell’s actions have consistently fallen short of that standard, and I cannot be silent in the face of his malfeasance. This attempt to undermine who I am as an individual and misrepresent my character can go on no longer.
I regret the incident that led to my NAM sanctions. During my time as President, I have endeavoured to carry out my responsibilities with integrity, honesty, and transparency. I have made every attempt possible to foster an inclusive and welcoming environment within the AMS and across all the services that we offer. I have taken strides to rebuild my relationship with Queen’s Student Constables and have worked tirelessly to not allow an incident from QMP to define me as a person and a leader.
I am sorry for the length of time that I’ve had to remain silent since the Journal article was released. Much more than that, I want to express how sorry I am to everyone who was involved in the incident at QMP. My actions before I became President are not representative of who I am now, and I will not let them define me any further.
Over the last seven months, we have been working closely with our team of 70 + salaried staff to serve you as well as we can. We will continue to do that, and will continue to act with integrity, honesty, and transparency in all that we do. You – the student body – deserve no less, and we will do better moving forward. In the spirit of transparency, I welcome and fully support an investigation by an external and objective party as the Board is moving to do. I want you to know that I do support this motion as I will be abstaining from the vote.
Please direct all media inquiries to Rachael Heleniak, AMS Director of Communications, at or (613) 533-6000 x 75850
Alma Mater Society (AMS) – http://www.myams.org
The central undergraduate student government at Queen’s University, the AMS represents over 17,750 students and is the oldest student government in Canada. There are over 1,000 student volunteers and 800 paid staff.