7+ hours of defeating motions. Highlights:
- No disability seat
- No unbanning of slates
- Stephen Owen and Nancy Knight bring the spin about Metro Vancouver’s proposed bylaws
- The AMS Foundation has achieved a balanced budget!
- YVR Add Fare opposed for U-Pass holders
- Electoral Code Changes for appeals and the international student seat
- Committee Appointments
The AMS Foundation
The AMS Foundation had its annual meeting. This is the AMS’s charity arm. It received exactly $0 in donations last year and also had $0 in expenditures. It was a short meeting.
Matthew Naylor proposed that in the face of an extremely imposing agenda for this meeting, that each speaker be limited to 3 minutes, a call to question every 30 minutes, and that all debate be closed after 90 minutes unless 2/3rds of council agrees to extend it. It came in handy.
Disability Seat Presentation – Rory Green (AVP External) and Emma Ellison (AMS Equity and Diversity Coordinator)
Rory and Emma outlined why council should vote in favour of the proposed non-voting disability seat. The reasons included more inclusivity and representation, sends a positive message, and “council privilege” (oxymoron?). They also listed the other non-voting seats, which seemed… mostly irrelevant.
They had examples of other student societies that had disability representatives, and words of support from those student societies and tried to put to rest some of the concerns about the fact that candidates and those that vote in the elections are self-selected.
Over an hour of debate, most of which I thankfully missed. Tears! Accusations! Drama!
10 For, 21 Against, 5 Abstain
Lots of disappointed students who came out to support this motion leave the room.
Stephen Owen demonstrated his experience as a politician to spin UBC’s opinion on Metro Vancouver’s (MV) proposed zoning bylaws. He gave a kind of rambling speech with extremely broad themes. He started with things like “The is not about rapacious development and market housing,” “it’s not about democracy,” and “it’s not about getting together to having a planning session”. Rather, it’s about academic freedom.
Among other things, he put forth the claims that market housing is regulated as tightly as any other municipality in the GVRD. In his opinion, the bylaw breaches the MOU between UBC and Metro Van, breaches the OCP, and is just generally unlawful. Under the proposed zoning, the New SUB would not be appropriate under the zoning for its proposed location. He feels it would not be democratic to have UBC zoning rules determined “by 35 people in Burnaby” where only 1, the Electoral Area A director, represents UBC. UBC has declined to sit on the working group proposed by Metro Vancouver because they don’t want to legitimize its existence. He brought up Marine Drive as an example of Metro Vancouver meddling, and the UBC Farm as an example of UBC being responsive. Then the questioning began.
Andrew Carne asked whether anyone knew what Metro Vancouver’s motivation for proposing this was. They did not. Andrew agreed that external regulation is disconcerting, but it may be because of concerns over the model UBC currently uses. Will there be some thought given about how to change the current processes? Stephen Owen said “yes, definitely” in a way that I have no confidence will be followed through on.
Bijan asked how the bylaws might affect projects that are currently underway. Owen talked about possibly having to get zoning amendments. Bijan said the proposed location for St. John Hospice near the botanical gardens had been ruled out because it would have had to go to MV for zoning restriction.
Hayden Hughes (AMS Ombuds) asked about what legal recourses UBC has to fight this, and about UBC’s willingness to go to those options. There was some lawyer talk, and Owen said that he was going to launch a lawsuit tomorrow about the bylaw, it would be on the basis of it not going through due process.
Matthew Naylor expressed that he has problems with how both MV and UBC regulates things. He then basically asked if UBC could become a city. Wishy washy answer to that one.
Mike Duncan said he wasn’t yet entirely sure how academic freedom is threatened by development rules. How will UBC commit to listening to UBC if they retain control over land use development? Stephen Owen: Think about the farm. We listened.
Note: Stephen brought up the farm ad nauseum as an example of how UBC was a great listener to the community. As far as I could gather it was the only example. And that required months and months of work and 15,000 signatures.
Johannes Rebane: Governance is a huge issue. We should really have this talk. Would the university be willing to organize committee discussion about governance? Answer: That’s up to BoG.
I asked if he could outline again how it’s not a conflict of interest that UBC regulates its own land. His previous example had simply been that Vancouver does it as well. Just because other people do it doesn’t suddenly make it not a conflict of interest. Owen’s answer was that he wouldn’t say whether or not it was a
conflict of interest but that he doesn’t think it’s fair to accuse them of that when other people do it.
Alex Lougheed gave a wonderful speech. In his words:
1. This is more than a Board of Governors issue.
Fundamentally, if the community of UBC (AMS & UNA) were to agree that the status quo is insufficient, then we could force a referendum, and take away control. It is not only enshrined in law that it is the community who ultimately calls the shots, but also in UBC’s interest, if they wish to maintain control, to appease this electorate to not invoke this power.
2. History of the UBC Farm and advocacy at UBC
Stephen characterized the Board’s response to Farm activism as an example of the UBC democracy working. Wrong. Years of direct dealing with the administration, at the end of days, failed. The AMS had been speaking to the Planning department and VP as to the value of such a site for some time. It was at the end of the day the large-scale activism of FotF (and the AMS’s support) that caused Metro Vancouver to care, and pass a unilateral motion endorsing the farm. They responded better in a couple of months to the wants of the community than years of trying with UBC. Effective democracy does not require 15,000 signatures to stop bad ideas. Effective democracy begins with good ideas.
3. We all want to see academic democracy on campus.
Currently, zoning and planning are done with the academic arm absent. The ‘academic checkpoint’ in the planning process is at the President’s Property and Planning Advisory Committee. This committee, where academics represent a minority, assumed the jurisdiction of the Senate Academic Building Needs committee. Proposals only come up once to this body. They come up to the Board three times, and the Executive three times. Academics are shut out of the process as is.
Overall, students aren’t listened to when they don’t want to be heard.
Tahara Bhate asked about how other universities, which are located in municipalities, did things. Stephen Owen gave his opinion that UBC seems to be as regulated now as others.
Blake expressed his opinion that rather than the farm being a good example of UBC listening to the community, it exposes a weakness in governance that it takes 8 months and 15,000 petitions to exact any sort of influence on the Board. There is something fundamentally wrong with that. Jeremy McElroy asked (I’m paraphrasing) Are you prepared to take us seriously? In his expert opinion, Mr. Owen things students are very well listened to currently.
Andrea (from Friends of the Farm) pointed out that 15,000 signatures is not easy to do. They had to skip class just to ensure they would have a classroom. They presented to both Metro Vancouver and to BoG about the farm and they felt much more welcomed at MV, and found the discussion to be much more intellectual and reasoned. MV was looking out more for the community than UBC was.
Finally, I asked about the timeline: How early could this be done? Nancy Knight estimated 6 months to 1 year if everything goes smoothly within Metro Vancouver.
I can’t speak for the rest of the people, but Stephen Owen’s visit felt like a whole lotta lip service. We were asking to be listened to and taken seriously, and in doing so, were not really listened to nor taken very seriously with this request. Fail.
VP Finance Trip to StudentCare Conferences
Tom went to the StudentCare conference, the people who run the AMS/GSS health plan. We like StudentCare.
Wrote a quarterly, read it; SUB negotiations; trying to figure out what the hell is going on with Metro Vancouver’s proposed zoning bylaws
Quarterly; TLEF application for FYSP; themed housing discussion with VP students office; read in Flander’s Field at remembrance day ceremony; salt spring coffee has been evicted from the old barn; met with Peter Dauvergne; looking at undergraduate writing programs
Tahara: What about AMS exam database?
Sounds like things are extremely disorganized on that project.
Quarterly. Looking at putting rules upon shared space; will be giving update on SUB project next time; last reno project may be concourse security and space.
Alumni assoc board meeting and alumni achievement awards; Henry Chen, AMS treasurer found out that the university athletics fee can now be considered a university fee that might result in a tax credit; impacts committee meetings; issued a quarterly, and then a second quarterly;
Quarterly Report; Suicide awareness, thrive week, looking to review services
Quarterly – has pictures!; last Friday held second cuts and coffee; Translink adding two new B-line stops: Arbutus and Fraser; BC comptroller general’s review of Translink recommended other stakeholders being included in mayor’s council – could mean UBC representation; does anyone want to clean my office?
Constituency Reports, BoG, Senate
It’s well after 10 pm by the time these are finished. Mike Duncan leafed through his enormous binder ofBoG materials for next week. Go to Geoff’s Place (as awesome as it is egotistical) for a full Senate write-up.
Oversight Committee Motion
BIRT council direct the executive committee to meet at least once prior to each regularly scheduled meeting of the AMS Council prior to the next AMS Annual General Meeting.
The exec haven’t been meeting. They should be. Council agrees. Passed.
Grad Class Council: Please help us be useful.
Alex Lougheed, president of GCC presented us with the GCC “Cycle of Fail” and presented ways to fix it.
GCC bylaw changes proposed and passed. There, he fixed it. Now hold a sweet party.
Electoral Code Changes Presentation – Andrew Carne
Outlined three major issues.
- Appeals: 72hr deadline for appeals was unworkable. New proposed deadline: 7 days after balloting closes for all appeals
- International student election: No definition of what constitutes an international student; Lack of overall procedure: who can vote? Who can run? Who can nominate? Some code written to fix this. The definition of an international student would be: not a canadian citizen, nor permanent resident.
- Slates: First motion is to unban slates. Back-up plan is to clarify the existing ban. The unbanning of slates code formalizes the whole thing and puts regulations on it. Previously they had been allowed simply because they were not explicitly disallowed.
International Student Election code changes
The international student rep proxy was not in attendance. I thought this is why they wanted a seat, to provide the international student view on issues that affect international students. How useful. Passed.
Elections Appeals code changes
No debate. Passed.
Geoff Costeloe started off with an amendment to remove Senate elections from the proposed code changes. Plenty o’ debate, and passed.
Then onto the main debate, which will not be summarized because seriously, y’all know how long it was. The arguments for and against are already well-established. There didn’t seem to be any particularly groundbreaking new arguments on either side. It’s a divisive issue and always will be. End result: 14 For, 15 Against, 3 Abstain. No unbanning slates.
YVR Add Fare Motion
Whereas TransLink has proposed a Canada Line YVR Add Fare which would require a passenger, travelling between Bridgeport and Templeton Canada Line stations in either direction, to pay $2.50 in addition to the applicable zone fare for travel to Richmond; and
Whereas TranLink has indicated that, if implemented, U-Pass holders would be required to pay the YVR Add Fare; and
Whereas TransLink has agreed to provide U-Pass holders “unlimited use of TransLink funded bus (including Community Shuttles), SkyTrain, and SeaBus transportation services within the GVRD”;
Therefore Be It Resolved That the AMS oppose the inclusion of U-Pass holders in the scope of the YVR Add Fare; and
BIFRT the AMS President submit comments to the TransLink Commissioner prior to November 30, 2009, articulating the AMS’s position on this matter.
We oppose the YVR Add Fare for U-Pass holders unanimously.
University and External Relations: Andrew Carne, Tahara Bhate, Bijan Ahmadian, Joel Mertens, Katherine Tyson, Kyle Warwick
Student Life: Mike Duncan, Jeremy McElroy, Fraser (HKin), Jimmy Yan, Carolee Chang, Ryan Trasolini
Business and Facilities: Aaron Sihota, KatDov, Jimmy Yan, Luke Lukkonen, Maria Cirstea, Mike Silley
Legislative procedures: Dia Mongomery, Julian Ritchie, Andrew Carne, Maria Cirstea, Iggy Rodriguez, Matthew Naylor
Education: Aaron Sihota, Tahara Bhate, Geoff Costeloe, Joel Mertens
Code precludes a sitting council member from working with the AMS. Matthew Naylor wants to work for AMS Security, and would require a suspension of code for that. Defeated.