UBC Insiders has asked current Board of Governors Representative and Student Senator Christopher Roach his thoughts about the AMS elections and how he is voting. And remember to vote for us in the VFM contest!
One of the hardest things about being president of a student society is remembering your role. The best president knows their role is to support the Executive; this often means being the number two on all major projects. They are responsible for guiding four vice-presidents, numerous staff, and a student council which can be difficult to deal with in one unified direction. Most importantly, the president needs to be able to work with council. We’ve seen an inability to do so with some current executives and it always leads to a breakdown in the AMS’s ability to work for students.
Aaron Bailey is exactly what the AMS needs in a president and is what it’s been lacking for the past year (full disclosure, I am campaigning for him). While I could go on about how he is articulate, knowledgeable, and a great leader, I’m going to focus on something else – understanding of the position. He knows the AMS, he knows the university system, he’s been an influential council member, and is probably one of the most engaged people on campus being involved in almost every student social circle. While I’m not too happy with some of Aaron’s platform, I acknowledge that presidents don’t actually get to have grandiose platforms and those are hard to run on. While I have been impressed with Cheniel Antony-Hale, her lack of understanding of the AMS and what it does will be more of a problem than people realize when it comes time to convince the AMS Council of its priorities next year. While I think Cheniel would make a great leader, the AMS needs Aaron Bailey at the helm. Vote Aaron.
Vice-President Academic and University Affairs
It’s never fun to see races uncontested, however even it was I would recommend voting Jenna Omassi. She’s a take no prisoners, kick down the doors type of person who reminds me of Kiran Mahal (arguably the best AMS executive we’ve seen in the past five years). Jenna has the experience, she’s not afraid to tell off the university administration, and is familiar with the intricacies of the portfolio. I could go on, but you probably are cool with just voting already. Vote Jenna.
Vice-President External Affairs
For some reason people think the Vice-President External Affairs needs to be a political mastermind who knows all the right people. The AMS has staff that researches and writes policy and staff that organize events. Furthermore, no single student is responsible (or capable) of pulling meetings with the VIPs of the political world. This is why we are part of the Alliance of British Columbia Students and Get on Board (and why we should rejoin the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations… but that’s another story). The VP External should be a good team leader, an experienced manager, and someone who is personable and can talk to politicians.
Jude Crasta is this person. While a lot of my interactions with Jude have been sitting across the table arguing over AMS finances, I know Jude to be an incredible proficient individual. I’ve heard great things about Janzen Lee, however I am concerned about his lack of understanding of what the AMS does and of his “political connections”. It’s a problem for me if you’re asking people “what is the AMS and what does it do” 3 weeks before nominations are due. It’s a problem for me if you think the recent alumni of your fraternity who are well known in one or two local ridings of a federal party are people who can help get you a meeting with the minister of advanced education or finance. While I think Janzen has the passion for the position, I think he should take an additional year to better familiarize himself with the Society. Vote Jude.
The Vice-President Finance is the most boring position to watch in an election. Now that the Business and Administration Governance Board is up and running, the VP Finance has (and should) very little involvement in the running of the AMS businesses. If the VP Finance can get anything done this year it needs to be redoing how the student government side of the AMS does its budgeting with an emphasis on moving towards value-based budgeting.
Based on what is needed I think both Mateusz Miadlikowski and Will Pigott would make a good VP Finance. I’ve chatted with both of them about their positions and they are very similar. Because of this and that of all the executive positions the VP Finance is probably the most administrative in nature, I’m supporting Mateusz as there will be no learning curve and students will get a full 12 months of effective work. However this comes with the caveat that I would like to hear him speak up more. Vote Mateusz.
For me this race was really between Ava Ansiri and Alex Remtulla. While James Jing came off as a decent candidate, the knowledge and experience of the other two is far greater. I voted Ava over Alex because she is experienced in the position and an incredibly effective executive. She’s often unfairly criticized for delays in the Student Nest, however based on how her predecessors handled the project this was always going to be the case and is unfair to lay at her feet. While Ava’s start to her current term was rocky, she has quickly identified herself as the most productive executive and should be allowed to continue. Alex would serve students well, but the combined learning curve and inexperience with council would result in a less productive year. Vote Ava.
Board of Governors
As a current student member of the Board of Governors, I know that a successful board member must have a fierce intelligence, the ability to stand up to university administration, and be able to cut through bureaucracy. Moreover, student board members must be highly dedicated to the student community.
Without a doubt Veronica Knott is the best fit for the position (I am also campaigning for her). I am torn between Tanner Bokor and Julie Van de Valk for the second vote as they represent two different approaches to the board. Tanner is without a doubt the most knowledgeable student on campus when it comes to UBC and would be a great policy wonk. However his propensity to want to always please all parties involved in any issue worries me – sometimes you need to take a stance and accept the outcomes. Julie will need some hand holding in order to navigate the inner workings of the board, however working with my partner Nina Karimi this year showed me that someone other than old student politicians can be an incredibly effective board member and can bring great perspective. Vote Veronica and either Tanner or Julie.
Instead of going through each candidate one by one, I want to start with what I look for in a senator. The UBC Senate, while generally underappreciated, is the single most important body for academics at UBC. Numerous individuals have suggested that it should be a place to help grow and develop young student leaders – if students want their Student Senate Caucus (“SSC”) to be better this view needs to change! In my mind there were four candidates who stood out.
Aaron Bailey has been one of the most outstanding senators this entire year and is the chair of the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Flexible Learning. He is directing the committee in an amazing way and should continue this work. Eric Zhao is another outstanding senator who has taken major leadership within the SSC in regards to mental health and wellbeing. One of the few senators that goes above and beyond his duty, Eric needs to be re-elected. While a new comer to the senate, I voted for Jenna Omassi because of there is a natural synergy between it and the VP Academic. Marjan Hatai is new to the senate but commands a surprising amount of knowledge about the senate and its current on goings. While she is untried, I am excited for her platform and would like to see her serve. The final spot vote was a tough decision between Gurvir Sangha and Viet Vu. Having worked with them both I’m confident that regardless of the outcome either of these individuals would do well. Viet is often unfairly criticized for the issue of VSEUS’ rocky first year but I doubt anyone can take on the AUS and leave unbattered. At the end my decision came down to my belief that VSEUS will need Viet next year and that he should focus there as opposed to the senate. Vote Aaron, Eric, Jenna, Marjan and Gurvir.