Mike Duncan is a candidate for AMS President. Here are his answers.

Why do you want to be the president of the AMS?
I am a very strong supporter of campus engagement. The AMS quite simply has not done an acceptable job engaging the broader campus community. I believe my skill set and the experience I bring to the position can change this. The time where we only listen to a small set of AMS hacks needs to end.

Vancouver is one of the most active and involved cities in the World. We are praised for this fact. Despite this, we still do not have a free gym and intramural fees are absurdly expensive. In order to have a healthy lifestyle, recreation is essential. I will ensure that we engage with UBC Athletics and use the new SUB Renew process to help remedy this fact and help make staying healthy and active an easy thing to do on a student budget.

Finally, I would like to draw your attention to the wall of my facebook site. The first post on there is from a first year student that I really don’t know that well. She took it upon herself to join my group without an invite and write a post on the wall stating how I impacted her on her first day here at UBC, how she was amazed that, despite the craziness of the first day of term, I was still able to take the time to talk to her about how to get involved. It is people like that, people who you impact in your life, that really make me want to be AMS President. That is the reason I am involved.

What personal skills and experiences could you bring to the portfolio?
Where I differ from many other AMS candidates, and many other AMS Presidents throughout past years, is the broad range of experience I bring to the portfolio. I have led teams in the Science Undergraduate Society, in the UBC Aqua Society, in UBC Orientations, and in intramural sports. I haven’t just participated in these activities, but have led these different teams to do great things. Using my teambuilding and leadership skills I have made a great difference in all these above groups, especially the Science Undergraduate Society. I have had to learn how to deal with such a wide variety of teams that I can guarantee that I am well suited to lead the incoming AMS executive team to do great things for the Society.

If there was one thing you could change about the AMS what would it be?
I would change the way we deal with our clubs. Our clubs see us as a burden, not a benefit. Sarah and Brittany have definitely improved how we do this throughout the past year, but more can be done. Right now it is difficult to find clubs, and even more difficult to join them. I would make it easy for clubs to collaborate with us to improve their promotion. I would make a second Clubs Days and in general, dedicate more of the main concourse time to AMS clubs instead of outside vendors. I would also take the current events calendar and make it something the clubs are dying to put their events onto. I would make it a real promotion tool.

How would you be a good leader of the Executive team?
Please see my question regarding what skills I bring to the portfolio.

How will you manage the organization internally given the transition of the General Manager and many permanent staff this year?
The GM and permanent staff that are leaving us this year deserve to be applauded. They have done an amazing job helping our society. Their transition marks an opportunity for some great change in the society. 13 years ago, the AMS hired an independent company to do a review of the society and suggest many things that were not efficient and could be modified. I will look into the feasibility of hiring a company to do this for us again. Even if it isn’t feasible, I will still ensure that we use this opportunity to strategically look at our framework, and to introduce parts of the strategic framework into our society.

What structural changes do you think would make council and committees more effective and cohesive in the organization?
The strategic framework has many recommendations for change capable in our society. Most importantly, it is imperative that we are not standing still just for the sake of standing still. Some reorganization of executive duties needs to take place, especially those regarding the VP External and VP Academic and University affairs. I will also work to empower council more. People don’t work well when everything they do is handed down to them from the top. I will work to ensure council members can take on their own initiatives and set their own goals to help improve the society and what we do.

How will you make the AMS known, relevant, and an attractive place for involvement for all students?
To start, it is important that we make the AMS known. Once it is better known, the rest will fall into place. I believe that to make the AMS known, you need to make it relevant. If we fight for the important issues to students then they will start to see how we are important. I will set up a UBC Roundtable twice a term where we invite campus leaders from across campus to come and discuss current issues that are affecting them. I will also continue the work Jeff has done with AMS Connect to help improve how people get involved with our society. One of the best ways to attain and retain volunteers is to acknowledge their efforts. It doesn’t have to be much, but the sum of many little acknowledgements and benefits can make the difference for many involved students.

Jeff’s role as a governor on the BoG and President seemed effective in giving students a voice. How would manage your relationship with UBC decision makers?
I will most certainly get some criticism for my view regarding UBC decision makers. Many students believe that the only way to deal with UBC Administration is to ‘stick it to the man’. I would approach the situation in a forceful, but respectful way. Students are a force to be reckoned with, but we can’t go into every meeting shouting our heads off because they will learn to ignore us. I still believe we need to be forceful, and to push hard and strong for the change we want to see, but I believe the way to do that is through mutual respect and collaboration.

How would you implement the AMS Strategic Framework?
Inherently, change is difficult for people to accept. We see that with UBC Administration, but we also see that within our own framework. The AMS strategic framework has some very important aspects to it, but I don’t see it ever passing through council in one lump sum. [note: the AMS Strategic Framework passed through council two years ago – Ed.] In order to improve the society, I will select certain important sections of the strategic framework and ensure they get passed. We do need to make progress with this, and this year is a unique opportunity because of the large turnover and the resulting change in ideals. Finally, I will also ensure that any framework that is to be implemented goes through the proper consultation to ensure that council members understand how they are improving their society.


12 Comments so far

  1. Anonymous on January 17, 2008 5:06 am

    Ack. Definitely confusing the Strategic Framework and committee reform. Though good to think of them as one and the same.

  2. Reka on January 17, 2008 5:14 am

    The strategic framework passed two years ago, but as far as I know none of its recommendations have really been implemented. That’s the more important part.

  3. Anonymous on January 17, 2008 6:12 am

    Hmmm. Mike seems to base a large part of his platform on athletics and recreation, which is great, but I just don’t think this is the biggest concern for most UBC students. Overall, I find his platform to be pretty weak.. does anyone else feel the same?

  4. Anonymous on January 17, 2008 6:34 am

    Platforms don’t really matter for presidents. They matter for vice-presidents. I say this having done the job. As president you have very little time for platform points and if you do it’s best that they not be ones that are actually from someone else’s portfolio. Athletics and rec is incredibly important – 20,000 students use it and there isn’t really an executive currently working on it. What’s more important, however, is the ability to lead a team and be an enthusiastic cheerleader for students and the student experience. Who would first year students prefer to see at the Imagine pep rally? That’s an important question because it is the first encounter that 5,000 students have with the AMS and probably their most lasting image of it.

    Being president is entirely about leadership and that’s something that comes from within – a place of maturity, respect for others, and honesty. A presidential candidate could have no platform at all and I’d still give them the time of day.

    -Spencer Keys (Prez #96)

  5. Anonymous on January 17, 2008 6:53 am

    Honestly, from the first paragraph, i feel funny. Look you have been a councillor for at least two years. If you can change the Council attitude to listen to the other students, you should have done so already….

  6. maayan kreitzman on January 17, 2008 7:05 am

    I’m impressed by the focus on recreation actually. Even though it’s not something I care about much peronally, it is incredibly important to alot of students. More important than stuff the AMS spends alot of time on. On the other hand I’m pretty worried about aspects of Mike’s leadership and his understanding of the organization and all its issues. He’s never expressed himself as someone that’s interested in politics at all.

  7. Anonymous on January 17, 2008 7:35 pm

    Lets be clear Spencer…we should be voting for someone who is a good cheerleader on Imagine Day even if they have a weak platform and little knowledge of the issues? Come on. A President may be a cheerleader some of the time, but most of the time you are the serious face of the AMS to the media, politicians, UBC admin, etc… Knowing the issues and not just being an “enthusiastic cheerleader” seems a little bit more important. I would also prefer to vote based on platform…at least we know what these people want to do in their time as President and how they plan on shaping the AMS. A weak platform says a lot about a candidate.

    And no offense… but any interest I or anyone else I know has in the AMS didn’t come from the speech you gave at the pep rally. The only thing I still remember from the pep rally is Martha Piper rambling about Bort.

  8. Paul on January 17, 2008 10:06 pm

    I agree with the above post…platforms are how we get to know who these people are and what they want to do. Not all of us have the pleasure of knowing every candidate well. I think all these endorsements are futile, I really think past execs endorsing current candidates is detrimental to the democratic nature of these races. Why should our current President be able to influence how people vote…should he really have a say in who is predecessor is? I think execs should stay out of it. Both Matthew and Mike have been endorsed by people who they are obviously close with anyways…big deal..you’re friends support you…let’s leave these races up to the voters…

  9. Anonymous on January 18, 2008 4:59 pm

    Anon 11:35 –

    Fair comment and I admittedly did a disservice to my main point by bringing up Imagine. The real point is that president is more about leadership – leadership of the Executive, of Council, and of students. That can take a lot of forms, only one of which is doing a good Imagine speech. While you may not have remembered mine, I had dozens of first years come up to me and say they were inspired by it and were looking for ways to get involved. First years like that are low-hanging fruit for the AMS to capture and get involved in the organization. Being able to inspire and motivate those students is immensely important to organizational renewal.

    The real point of the post is that I would happily trade a detailed understanding of the issues for a general understanding plus leadership abilities. As long as a platform sets out a framework of what a candidate deems to be important, the details will likely come from the VPs.

    Paul –

    If you don’t think endorsements matter, don’t pay attention to them. However I know that a lot of people make their votes based on the preferences of people they trust. And given that this job is entirely about people skills, I would think that you would want the opportunity to get the opinions of those who have worked with both of them. Promises are just that, promises, but you can learn a lot about a candidates leadership abilities by the people that have previously worked with them. Some people recognize that and choose to vote accordingly. In a democracy we don’t dictate to people the reasons they can use to justify their choices.


  10. Anonymous on January 18, 2008 10:59 pm

    Though I honestly believe Mike is connected to students in a way the AMS desperately – DESPERATELY – needs and his rough public speaking can be dealt with, the fact he didn’t realize UBC has a free gym in the basement of the Aquatic Centre is disturbing when he included this in his first platform paragraph AND missed out on the battle to keep it open and free this year – something Jeff, on-campus publications, and a number of students engaged on.

    On another topic – Imagine got me involved, informed and is one of the few successful, useful and universal experiences UBC has.

  11. Anonymous on January 19, 2008 2:53 am

    I think he knows about the aquatic centre gym because he was on the AMS committees that dealt with the Aquatic Centre. I think he means a larger gym that is open and free all the time, like SFU has.

  12. Anonymous on January 23, 2008 4:46 pm

    “Platforms don’t really matter for presidents.” Do members of the AMS not want to know where the candidates for president stand on important student issues? A platform in this case might best best be described a set of stands and viewpoints on some key issues, rather than a set of election promises.

    True leaders are people of deep substance. Some, like Blake Frederick, a candidate for Senate, have demonstrated this in roles they have had. Others have not. If being president of the AMS is just about pep rallies, perhaps the election should be run as a pageant.

Name (required)

Email (required)


Speak your mind

Spam prevention powered by Akismet