Senate, anyone?

Posted by: | January 31, 2009 | 16 Comments

While I’ve been busy blogging about most of the ongoing races, I sort of let it slip from my memory that there aren’t any people running for Senate this year. It turns out that only 2 people submitted nomination forms, and as a result they automatically get seats. Currently, the available seats are being offered to this year’s Senators. I’m quite frankly astonished by this practice- rather than opening up nominations again, they have decided to simply offer the seats to people who did not apply, and who could take the seats without actually going through an election. I’m sure there’s some sort of term for this practice, but I can’t quite remember what it is right now.

[ hat tip to, and more analysis from The RBT]


16 Comments so far

  1. Blake Frederick on January 31, 2009 9:52 am

    Hey Maria,

    The procedure you’re referring to is in the University Act. I would personally prefer to see a bi-election, especially considering that there are 3 open seats and the election was not as well promoted as it could have been. Unfortunately for this to happen, it would require that all current Senate members agree not to take the seats and AMS Council decide not to appoint people to the vacancies, but run an election instead. This is not, however, entirely impossible.

  2. Rodrigo Ferrari Nunes on January 31, 2009 10:32 am

    Wow – this is definitely something that should have been promoted! Why wasn’t there any type of advertisement asking students to run for the Senate elections? Can there still be a bi-election?

  3. radicalbeer on January 31, 2009 6:58 pm

    I hope that it’s possible that the AMS could still appoint the Senators. I’ve looked through some of the regulations and have posted some analysis here.

  4. Maria_Jogova on January 31, 2009 7:27 pm

    I’m not sure that simply appointing people to positions is a good idea, though. People keep talking about how they want to involve more students with the AMS, and this sort of thing only solidifies the opinion of students that the AMS doesn’t care, and isn’t particularly interested in getting students at large to represent their fellow classmates or whatnot. It just further propogates the image of the AMS being a clique where, if you’re in, you get to continue being there by virtue of knowing people. But appointing Senators? I know that people like to play at grown-up politics, but even there they’re considering elections. Plus, our own government isn’t particularly great, if people hadn’t noticed, so I’m not sure why we’d want to go in that direction…

  5. rodrigoferrarinunes on January 31, 2009 8:19 pm

    I agree completely with Maria here. If Council has the power to ‘appoint’ Senators, it can also declare a bi-election, like Blake suggests. The fact that the student Senators themselves did not bring this issue forward at the last AMS Council meeting is disappointing. People talk a lot about connecting with students, and being a source for consultations, but they keep disappointing students. I find that the main issue here is student ignorance about the UBC Senate. I hope that our next executive team can lobby for instituting a first day of class standard curriculum, which would be basically a 20 min or so lecture professors have to give to students in the first week about how the university works and how to get involved. It should include information about all the elections and seats available for students, and explanations about the AMS and political bodies (e.g., Senate, BoG, GSS, AUS, SUS, CUS, EUS and so on). Every time students go away in bulk (end of terms, reading break) and at least 1 month before any elections, the AMS should come together with the other student organizations to put together a poster and media campaign about the coming elections. The material from the standard first year course on the political structure of the university should be widely shared. I think such an initiative could help us deal with phenomena such as what Maria reported on here. I was wondering what happened with the Senate elections since there were no debates and nobody talking about anything, and I figured that maybe they take seats for three years, because I heard Bijan saying that he was in it for three years when he talked about his ‘need’ to remain in the Board of Governors for another year. Whose responsibility is it to inform everyone else when such a blunder occurs with an election? It is obviously not fair for students who do not know about it now to keep them in ignorance about what just happened with the Senate race. They did call a bi-election last year for the VP-Admin race, so I don’t see why we should not have one this year – the reasons seem compelling to me: 1. we have not enough candidates, 2. students were not properly informed about what the position entailed, why it is now open for all students to run, and why it is important to get involved with the UBC Senate, 3. Council may be appointing people who self select arbitrarily or their own friends, 4. More publicity for the elections is needed (we can have more exciting election things happening [e.g., debates, jello-wrestling, VFMs, issues).

  6. radicalbeer on January 31, 2009 9:02 pm

    Oh, I’m not implying that we should be specifically appointing Senators. I just view this as the most convincing legal argument that will achieve the ends that we want – a by election. See our previous post on that here.

    I think think that the most expedient way to achieve a by election would be to use the currently existing regulations to gain control of the nominations, then pass a motion to appoint those who win an election that we hold. It’s a kind of responsible government thing – government in self binding consultation.


  7. radicalbeer on January 31, 2009 9:11 pm

    Oh, and because the election for the Student Senators is not an AMS election, it’s a University election, which are governed by the university act, and through that, the senate. They give us the chance as the AMS to run their senate election each year, and when the results come back (according to our rules, nominations close at a certain point in the election, and we can’t arbitrarily reopen them – it would be unfair to the other candidates who got their forms in on time to have to run against people who jumped on the bandwagon) they will go through the procedures that are laid out in regulation.

    It’s just a question of what those regulations are.


  8. Maria_Jogova on January 31, 2009 9:22 pm

    I think you could still have the people who did submit their nominations take the seats- but the remaining 3 seats should be opened up again instead of just asking people to take them…

  9. Blake Frederick on January 31, 2009 9:27 pm

    Naylor – I’m not sure I understand your argument of fairness. The bi-election would only be open for the 3 vacant seats. The other 2 who submitted their forms on time would still be acclaimed.

    Now, this bi-election would probably not be a “real” election in that I don’t think it would be governed by the University Act, but it would be an election outside of those procedures that the AMS Council would just decide to hold so that they know who to appoint to the positions. That’s how I envision it at least.

  10. Alex Lougheed on January 31, 2009 10:00 pm

    I think it would be hilarious if council directed a bielection, and decided to run it as ranked-pairs.

    First Condorcet senate election ever.

  11. Chris on February 1, 2009 7:56 am


    I’m also concerned by the lack of candidates, but, to be fair to this crop of students, this is not the first time this has happened.

    The issue is that the three seats in question are not actually vacant (potentially) as of April 1 because senators are elected until replaced. The “vacant” language does not take effect until we either have a senator resign, be removed, or become ineligible to continue to serve.

    If anyone is curious why we go down the list based on number of votes received, it’s because student senators at-large are not elected to any one seat in particular out of the five available (i.e., it’s not as if Blake occupies At-Large Seat #4, and Rob has At-Large Seat #2), so likewise the two students who submitted forms aren’t assigned to specific seats either. As such, we needed a mechanism to fairly decide who should be given first opportunity to continue in office out of the five.



    PS – The AMS Council is free to devise any mechanism it sees fit to come up with its recommendations if need be. I suppose that could be an election-like process, sortition, an episode of “The Weakest Link” or even trial by ordeal. The University generally tries to avoid by-elections as much as possible because of the time involved by our processes (8 weeks minimum).

    PPS – Who’s Radicalbeer? I’d love to clarify a few things in your blog post…

  12. Alex Lougheed on February 3, 2009 6:37 am

    Mr. Eaton,

    That Radical Beer entry would have been from Mr. Naylor. Mr. Lougheed has his contact if you so wish.

  13. Amin on May 28, 2009 5:57 pm

    Hey. So what happened on this issue? Is there going to be an election the fall?

  14. Amin on May 28, 2009 5:57 pm

    Hey. So what happened on this issue? Is there going to be an election the fall?

  15. Neal Yonson on May 28, 2009 6:23 pm


    Student Senate Caucus collected applications and chose three people to be Senators. These people were then recommended by AMS council and finally, appointed to Senate at their May 13 meeting.

  16. Neal Yonson on May 28, 2009 6:23 pm


    Student Senate Caucus collected applications and chose three people to be Senators. These people were then recommended by AMS council and finally, appointed to Senate at their May 13 meeting.

Name (required)

Email (required)


Speak your mind

Spam prevention powered by Akismet