Race: VP Finance

The vice president finance is responsible for managing the AMS’ money, from preparing an annual budget and financial statements, to working with AMS staff, organizations, businesses, and services to monitor their spending. The vp finance also chairs the Finance Commission, ensuring AMS clubs and constituencies submit annual financial reports, sits on the board of directors of CiTR, and works with the Society’s businesses and SUB building and facility managers to implement the AMS Lighter Footprint Strategy.

Tristan Miller
Age: 21
Year: 4
Faculty or program: Arts, Political Science
Past Campus involvement:
Vice-Chair, AMS Finance Commission
AMS Student Administrative Commission – Finance Commission Representative
AMS Student Administrative Commission – member-at-large
Past non-campus involvement:
Various jobs in retail and groceries as well as involvement in political parties (policy creation, election preparation, election work), CIBC Run for the Cure and Scotiabank AIDS Walk for Life.

What were some things you noticed in your past AMS role (as Vice-Chair, Finance Commission) that you hope to change/improve on in the VP-Finance position?

Well, here are a couple off the top of my head. One is streamlining the process for the submission of required club documents. Like, Budgets, Authorization Forms, ect. As well as reducing the amount of paper by moving some of the forms to an online submission system. Perhaps, improve treasurers training as well, to make sure they really do know what their doing (Don’t misunderstand me, many, if not most, of our treasurers preform incredibly well, but, their are always exceptions, especially given we have around 400 subsidiaries). I would also like to continue revamping the FinCom Policy Guide. The guide (formerly the “Treasurer’s Hand book”) is a very old document, and has been haphazardly updated over the last 20 years. The Commission has already started updating the guide to fall in line with current Provincial/Federal Legislation (tax policies ect.) but still needs some revisions to bring it into this century. I would also look at setting standard times to hold elections for Treasurers, perhaps twice a year, as the current system of letting clubs decided is a nightmare from a logistical standpoint. However, FinCom would have to work with SAC on this last point.

Many students are quite uninformed about the AMS Finances and its financial health. How will you go about addressing this issue?

This is fairly difficult to do. But, one of the ways I would try and combat students being uniformed, is by sending each member of the society the budget (a simplified version) and the quarterly reports from the VP Finance office. The best we could hope, is that students will read it, and take interest. However, it has been my experience that this may be wishful thinking. I have in the past held info sessions, and of the 400 people invited, only about 14 showed up. So we can try and reach out, but it requires that people care. And I’m not sure they do, which is unfortunate.

What do you mean by being “sustainable” in terms of the AMS? What challenges do you foresee in terms of student apathy and buying-in to being sustainable?

Sustainability is a concept that is far to often misinterpreted to relate only to environmental projects and problems. Sustainability is a holistic concept of stewardship that incorporates three main elements. Environment, Economy and Social health. So, when I say we need to work on creating a more sustainable AMS, specifically from the Finance Department, that means we need to create a more stable financial situation. This is so we can ensure we have the funds to work on our environment (“greening” our businesses, services and the SUB) and to continue to provide services to students that benefit the social aspects of the student life (mental health, SASC, tutoring, and lobbying and subsidy programs for students in financial hardship ect.). In order to ensure the environment and social dimensions of sustainability are being addressed, we have to ensure the financial dimension is addressed first, as the dimensions are always linked.

On apathy, lets call a spade a spade. As far as apathy goes, the Finance portfolio is one that is, frankly, unaffected by student apathy (except in regards to policy that requires referenda). That is to say, the vast majority of our day to day functioning does not require students to care, because what we do is largely behind the scenes, internal policy, and done without much volunteer student involvement. Most of what we do is done by paid employees (things like taxes, insurance, contracts, and the list goes on). So, from this perspective, students don’t need to buy-into being sustainable, our internal departments must comply with our policies.

With that being said, Its important that students at least support in principle the policies of their Society. I would also assert that most students would probably agree on the principles of sustainability. But, at the end of they day, as much as students care about sustainability (or not), it is Council that will ultimately have an influence on whether or not we can work towards sustainability. As council must pass major fiscal policy, like the budget for instance, in which suitability would be reflected (by 2/3 majority). Councillors must “buy-in”, not just students, for sustainability to move forward at the AMS.

What is your opinion of the 4 referendum questions?

I think they are well written and well thought out. The AMS is giving students a chance to take part in some big decision making and I encourage all voters to check out both sides of the various arguments, and make an informed choice. Read the report commissioned by the AMS on the Ski Lodge that says we should sell it, and read the opinion articles arguing to keep it. Read about the art and the AMS’ options. When it comes to plebiscites, make your own choice. I, personally, will be voting YES on all the questions. I think these initiative will help move the AMS towards that goal of sustainability. You might disagree, and thats OK. I respect that. JUST VOTE. Thats what counts.


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