UBC AMS Election for the Clueless

Note: this post is backdated from Jan 20, hence date references are a bit blurred. Wait til I track down the person who sneezed in my face and gave me a fever… *sputter*

Who better to write an entry on the AMS Election than some mere first-year who was not aware that an election was going on until a few days ago? According to the latest survey of made-up data, 1/3 of you didn’t know the AMS had elections (if not for those Facebook group invites!), 1/3 of you is more interested in how pigeons get into the SUB than how your peers get voted into office, 1/3 of you will vote when forced then arbitrarily pick a candidate based on some funny-sounding foreign last name, and 1/3 of you can’t do math.

What is it? The Alma Mater Society of UBC (basically university student council) holds an election every at around this time to determine who holds those impressive-sounding titles, who gets to control the millions of dollars in the university fund, and who will bring about “change” in the upcoming year.

When is it? Campaigning officially started last Friday (Jan 16), hence the onslaught of Mr.Clean look-a-like posters on campus. If you missed out on the nomination process then… tough luck, maybe next year! Voting starts on Jan 29 and ends on Feb 4.

Now the candidates. With the power of social networking, a lot of the campaigns went on the internet. Candidates, I tried to pick the most flattering picture of you and avoided those that looked like they were taken in a sketchy ghetto =D

Presidential Candidates

… will the gentlemen please take the stage!

Blake Frederick “Bachelor” #1 Blake Frederick

Background: 4th year philosophy, AVP academic, student senator
Best known as: one of the voices behind UBC Insiders
Platform: lower tuition thru BC government, better housing, save the farm, more buses, fund raise for new SUB, reduce athletics fee
Thoughts: definitely a comprehensive platform (by God, do you know how long it took me to read all of it?!) I like the idea of turning towards the BC government for credible improvement of campus resources; it shows this candidate has both short-term plans and long-term visions. I would vote for Blake Frederick AMS President for his clearly articulated and relevant blog entries. A blogger *cough* can do no wrong (most of the time)!
Links: Facebook Group | Website

Paul Korczyk “Bachelor” #2 Paul Korczyk

Background: 6th year student, residence advisor for Vanier, residence coordinator
Best known as: “That Polish Guy” aka President of the Polish Club
Platform: open communication, open communication, open communication (oh and better housing, bring back AUS County fair, oppose move to NCAA, green space in new SUB)
Thoughts: a bit vague in contrast to Blake’s platform. It’s very student-based however, but I see no efforts to reach out to the government and external sources for change, funding, and support. I would vote for Paul Korczyk for AMS President because the AMS really needs some new blood. For those of you who sat in British Columbia Youth Parliament with me saw first hand the deterioration that can happen to an organization if the governing portion becomes too exclusive and fails to delegate leadership to the newbies.
Links: Facebook Group | Website | Twitter

Alex Monegro “Bachelor” #3 Alexander Monegro

Background: 4th year commerce, arts transfer, VP external for CUS
Best known as: the guy from the Dominican Republic (wow we have such a regional diversity for the race!)
Platform: Create book exchanges, increase student say in prof tenure, strengthen UBC services thru stricter hiring/internal evaluation/campus wide promotion, maintain Upass, maintain tuition hike a fixed percentage
Thoughts: Finally, someone who was born in the real world and realizes that shouting to the government/the board to drastically slash tuition or take tuition away altogether is utterly ridiculous. Taking away tuition charges from a public institution that is so meagerly funded by the government such as UBC is like… hmm… TAKING AWAY MAGIC FROM HOGWARTS (Phoebe apologizes, she hasn’t had a HP reference in a while). Moving on.  I would vote for Alex Monegro for AMS President because he was very active in AMS Council meetings (anyone else just spent his/her Sunday morning reading AMS minutes?!) making motions and voicing his opinion, and of course, because I have a strong commerce bias 😉
Links: Facebook Group | Website

VP Academic and University Affairs Candidates

… Arguably the fiercest bunch. I will focus mainly on the VP Academic portion of their platforms.

David Nogas David Nogas

Background: 4th year science, no positions listed (don’t make me dig for your titles… well unless they’re the cool sketchy ones like … you know)
Platform: talk about public transit, bring back water, work with campus housing to emulate other univ’s plans (I’m quoting here!!), no dough to CASA, new gym, coordinate advertising in SUB to make it prettier, encourage Blue Chip to give $0.25 worth more of chocolates on their chocolate covered doughnuts in exchange for students bringing their own coffee mug (… can someone pinch me please?)
Thoughts: David seems like a nice guy. Maybe he needs a campaign team to help him out or an older AMS-veteran as a mentor otherwise he’s going to get trampled once and if he gets inside the AMS. His previous platform (which was still up on Fb a few days ago before I was hit by the fever of the century) actually included two academic-related suggestions: a used-book store and an “everything lecture”. Maybe he’s scrapped them? I would vote for David Nogas for VP Academic because at least he’s not Jeremy Wood.
Links: Facebook Group

Sonia Purewal Sonia Purewal

Background: 4th year computer science and biology, no positions listed
Platform: review course fail policy, review tutorial curriculum, shift less difficult courses to the morning and harder ones to later in the day, optimize timetables to have days with no classes, set up conglomerate university services website (I like, I volunteer XD), implement an Academic Grievances Database
Thoughts: Sonia was a bit late getting someone to set up her Facebook Group. I believe it went up just under 48 hours ago. I would vote for Sonia because she is determined to cater towards commuter students, who believe it or not, make up a HUGE portion of the campus population (just look at the 480 bus line, ugh).
Links: Facebook Group | Website

Johannes Rebane Johannes Rebane

Background: 2nd year finance and international relations, VP Academic for CUS, exec for International Business Club
Platform: Allocate more funding to TA training, introduce, freshman seminar classes (see Berkeley), create more dual degree options, hire career counselors, pass Pass/D/Fail Policy in Senate, bring academic focus to Farm, set up conglomerate website with all career resources (i like v. much), increase student and leadership advising
Thoughts: Okay, this is what an actual VP Academic should sound like. I helped out with a campus interview a few weeks ago in which I asked students at different parts of campus, “What career resources do you know about on campus?” On one hand we had the Sauder students gushing about the wonder that is the Business Career Centre and on the other hand, over 90% of science students gave responses such as 1) “What career services?!” and 2) “I’ve never gone to see a career adviser”. The lack of a career resources at UBC is a HUGE, APPALLING issue, more so than *gasp* the Farm, because believe it or not, one day you’re going to graduate and step out into the real world with a degree in hand but no idea what to do because your VP Academic, your AMS, your University never thought about students’ long-term needs. Career resources are a huge part of Johannes’ platform; other candidates barely touched the issue. As for the freshman seminars, my friends from Berkeley and other US Schools have been telling me that they’re a God-send. FS’s discussion-based and engaging, definitely a non-daunting way to start off the school year. I would vote (and campaign) for Johannes Rebane for VP Academic because he has the abilities to do what he says, a comprehensive academic platform, and one hell of a kickass website. And oh, because I want a course in my timetable called Rhetorics 24 – Arguing with Judge Judy: Popular “Logic” on TV Judge Shows.
Links: Facebook Group | Website

Jeremy Wood Jeremy Wood

Background: 4th year History, no positions listed
Platform: extend exam hardship to 36 hour period, open pass/fail option, expand funding to smaller academic departments, fight for the farm and oppose market housing there, more need-based scholarships, more social spaces etc.
Thoughts: After hearing the Monday Debate, I gave Jeremy “Best Speaker” award in the VP Academic race. I have to keep telling myself that Jeremy is not a joke candidate. In the last 24 hours, especially, I lost all respect for him. For those who missed it, Jeremy pulled out of the race for a few hours – first reported by UBC Insiders then confirmed by my source – to endorse Sonia Purewal and “bring Johannes down”. Scared much? So this candidate finally realized that his platform has neither depth nor substance and decided to withdraw from the race to be VP Academic. Great. The sun continues to shine and Phoebe continues her love affair with Halls and Chinese herbal medicines. Lo and behold, this morning I find out that it’s FALSE ALARM, Jeremy’s back in! To quote the lovely UBC Insiders (yea yea I’m glued to that site), “I’m not quite sure yet how I feel about a candidate who feels like he lost sight of the issues, only to regain focus when others supported him.”
Links: Facebook Group | Website

So that took a week longer than I thought to type up. I’ll do the VP External, VP Admin, VP Finance, and Board of Governors blurbs another time, or never. Coming up next, a definitive list of all worthy UBC media covering the election =P

[Lovely Photo Credits]