AMS Council: September 23, 2009

Posted by: | September 24, 2009 | 2 Comments


  • Q: What’s going on with the NEW SUB project? A: We discussed that in the in camera session
  • A few more SUB renovations
  • Student access to Whistler Lodge during Olympics preserved
  • You’re on your own, Equity And Diversity Coordinator

NEW SUB presentation
Blake, Crystal, Jensen (NEW SUB coordinator) and Guillaume Savard (Project Management, maybe?) gave a quick rundown of all the things we already knew about the project. Then they went into a lengthy in camera session to discuss the actual relevant things. There was a UBC Insiders hallway party.

When we were let back in, there was a short question period. Alex Lougheed asked about a document that went to the Board of Governors stating that UBC Properties Trust was the project manager. Until that came out, everyone had been under the impression that that’s what Guillaume Savard of MHPM was here for. Blake’s answer was first that it had been discussed in camera (well, duh) and that the board docket is an information item, and is non-final. That does not accurately represent what’s going on. So, what is actually going on? Still unclear.

Alex then asked about the architect selection process. Another vague answer about a committee to be struck with final say. They hoped to include a student-wide plebiscite. No details yet about the composition of the committee, but students are supposed to have majority say. Alex’s third question was about the ETA on the lease. This document is too far away on the horizon to give an ETA.

I asked about whether there were any recent developments about linking the NEW SUB to the underground bus loop. They have asked to develop that link, but it’s still pending.

SUB Renovations
Motion 1: To put two baby changing tables in the SUB. Each cost $350 and $1000 of funding was being requested to be safe. Comments to ensure the existence of these tables is well-publicized. Motion passed.

Motion 2: Renovations to Interfaculty Publishing Office (IFPO) and CopyRight’s photocopier room. The plan is to move CopyRight’s 8 self-serve copiers into the IFPO. The current copier room would be converted into 7 clubs offices. The IFPO would cease to exist. Total budget for these renovations is $81,252.

More deets: Each office would be approximately 10 ft by 10 ft and it’s likely three clubs would be assigned to each office. Of 350 clubs currently, only about 70 currently have offices. SAC does not keep a waiting list for offices so don’t know what demand is. Best question was from Chris Diplock: had they looked at whether there was other space available that could be rented for clubs? The concern was that $80K was a bit big when we’re moving out of the SUB in ~5 years. If we could rent space for those 5 years for significantly less than $80K the difference could go into NEW SUB funding where it would be arguably better used. That had not been considered. Motion passed.

Blake’s Broadcast
Read 2nd Quarterly Report here. Firstweek was fantastic, went to a bunch of events; Welcome Back BBQ went off without a hitch; gave speeches to GALA and Imagine; met with GSS president; talked to Toope about hospice; talked with B.Sul and Tim about Policy 71, decided policy is fine but needs to be followed which hasn’t always happened; talked to Barbara Crocker about expansion to work-study program

Tim’s Talk
Read 2nd Quarterly Report here. Met with UBC Daycare council; met with students about renter’s rights; got non-finalized transportation plan of bus re-routes during olympics; finalizing U-Pass agreement for Translink to sign it; went to mayors’ council meeting; signed up ~200 volunteers since beginning of school; AMS financial subsidy applications are done

Crystal’s Chat
Read 2nd Quarterly Report here. SUB stuff; clubs days; all president’s dinner

Pavani’s Prose
Read 2nd Quarterly Report here. Promotion during first few weeks; lots of volunteers for all the services; some more hiring; performance reviews of coordinators upcoming

Tom’s Tirade
Read 2nd Quarterly Report here. David Hannigan (formerly of Purdy’s Chocolates) accepted preliminary offer for HR manager; new registration system being tested; new policy on security personnel at events being looked at; looking at endowments for student accounts; alumni centre MOU with UBC finalized; homecoming this weekend; did mini review of support staff and himself; went to art show at SUB gallery and you should too

Johannes’s Jargon
Read 2nd Quarterly Report here. Johannes is at Harvard, checking out their First Year Seminar Program.

Whistler Lodge Motion
In 2007, the AMS rejected a proposal for renting out the AMS Whistler Lodge during the Olympics. At the end of July 2009, AMS Council instituted their own revised pricing policy for the lodge which reserved half the beds for students and half the beds for the public. Now they are considering a new offer to rent the entire lodge out.

Tom presented what he thought were the advantages:

  1. More Funding: Status quo proposal would net $60-90K. The proposal at hand would net $143K. Also, the latter funding is guaranteed, the former is dependent on the AMS’s ability to successfully fill the beds. The overall difference is about $80K
  2. Better Administration: It’s a turnkey proposal for the AMS. They wouldn’t have to run a lottery to distribute rooms, or do marketing to ensure public rooms are all rented. Wouldn’t have to do security or ensure tickets aren’t scalped.
  3. Additional Funding Opportunities: Could we offer catering? Parking? A 4-month rental instead of only 1-month? These options could possibly be negotiated as well.
  4. More Students Derive Benefits: The number of students that could stay at the Whistler Lodge during the Olympics is very small. They money could have an impact on a much greater number of students.

Matt Naylor first tried to propose an amendment:

BIFRT in the event that the contract is fulfilled, an amount totalling $30,200 shall be transferred into the External and University Lobbying Fund from revenue generated by the rental.

He felt that he could not support a motion that didn’t specify where the additional revenue would be directed to. He proposed external lobbying. This amendment was quickly debated, and called to question so that the students-at-large had waited quite a while to speak. It was defeated and debate went back to the main motion.

Lin Watt wanted to know if we were actually voting on a deal or just on continued negotiations. It was the latter. Ian Brown (UBC Ski and Board prez) gave a speech about why he was fully against this. He said that the lodge is about students, not to make money for the AMS. It’s about a bed for students to go to Whistler on the cheap. He felt like the AMS takes student fees, puts it through bureaucracy, then is put back to students in largely intangible ways. The lodge is a tangible benefit to students. He wants the AMS to give students a pro-active way to experience the Olympics.

Blake said he thought a lot about this and also consulted constituents. He won’t support it because we already made decision and communicated that. The AMS changing its mind would not look good.

Morgan Hall (Ski and Board) was next. He felt this proposal was well beyond what is appropriate. When students find out they will be shocked and unhappy and no students-at-large have had a word in this up until now. He urged the AMS to think about the students they represent, not just the money. Why is the AMS willing to sell out its students for some money?

Luke Lukkonen (GSS) expressed his support for the motion. It will bring in funding for other AMS activities.

Chris Diplock (08/09 AMS VP Finance) talked about how the AMS’s services work. But what do you price them at? We could raise prices on some things but does that benefit students? The lodge is what it is because of students. Thinks the AMS could somehow raise extra revenue by charging a bit more to students. They’d be willing to pay and it could still be affordable. The AMS would get some extra cash while ensuring student access.

Joel Mertens said he likes money, but that he talked to students about it and they don’t feel the same. They want the service instead. If we take away this service to students, what do students get in return? Nothing proposed is at all tangible.

Natalie the Forestry proxy wasn’t sure why it was such a bad thing to forfeit some money to benefit a small group of students given that council had spent $80K earlier that evening for offices that would benefit very few students.

Tahara Bhate was also keen to see where the money would be directed, a sentiment that was also later expressed by a number of other councilors. Tim Chu thought the proposed plan would not put students first. Guillaume Houle spoke against it even though he had previously voted in favour of it as a member of the Business Operations Committee.

Jeremy McElroy raised an excellent point. If the AMS were serious about renting out the lodge to a third party, why are we only considering this one proposal. Why wouldn’t the AMS have put out an open call for proposals? Can’t support it, would look bad to change our minds.

At this point there were some words exchanged meant to imply that Tom might not have gone about this on the up and up. Tom felt he had dealt with it properly; council had indicated it was interested in hearing the proposal. He presented it to council and the decision is in their hands. I don’t think there was any actual conflict of interest here, but there were things that did seem a bit strange.

Kyle Warwick waxed poetic about his divided mindset about this motion and Iggy Rodriguez also felt torn. He asked the Ski and Board reps where they think the money should be directed should the proposal be accepted. They didn’t offer anything concrete, but said themselves and the Varsity Outdoor Club should have a say where it should be directed. They also mentioned that they don’t officially use the lodge, but they strongly recommend it to members as a place to stay. Colin Simkus commented that he thinks council is good at doling out money, but not as good at bringing it in and that’s the difference between this motion and the money spent earlier on clubs offices.

The Varsity Outdoor Club president (whose name I didn’t catch) gave a quick rundown of the lodge’s history. The VOC had built the lodge. He was very disappointed that the AMS wanted to sell it out for a quick buck. Lots more people spoke, mostly going over the same territory that had already been covered. There was a call to question, the a challenge of the chair.

Eventually Matt Naylor re-motioned the earlier thing about giving the profits for lobbying. More debate, failed again. Andrew Carne made another amendment to give profits to a new fund to support student projects. That also failed.

This whole debate took forever. And I mean forever. Probably in the two hour plus range. Finally, on the third call to question, voting finally occurred. And the whole motion failed. The Ski and Board, and VOC guys walked away satisfied, but probably extremely flabbergasted about why the process had to be so ridiculously drawn out. Actually, that’s how I feel too.

Equity and Diversity Assistant Position
This motion was to create this position. Thinking it was rather straightforward, I didn’t pay much attention. As it happens, it turned into a huge debate about the necessity and usefulness of equity initiatives, and whether doing this was simply duplicating services UBC already offers. Colin Simkus proposed two amendments, which passed. A side-effect of one of the amendments is that the requirement for passage went from simple majority to 2/3rds. The vote got the majority, but not the 2/3rds and it failed.

At this point, around 11:30, a motion to adjourn was moved and passed. Thankfully. Motions to approve minutes, make committee appointments, and re-direct the president’s fund will have to wait until the next meeting. Look out for KatDov’s recap which should be up on Facebook soon to get another opinion of tonight’s events.


2 Comments so far

  1. Peter on September 24, 2009 5:30 am

    With regards to the AMS Whistler Lodge, does the AMS have a concrete plan as to how they will be selling tickets to students? Have they begun to do so already? I mean, I’d imagine it would already be sold out if students actually knew about it.

    If nothing has been done to sell the spots in the lodge yet, it might be worthwhile just to rent the thing out to these guys and not have to administer it. Just imagine how many accusations and incriminations there will be once tickets to do on sale alleging bias in selling to insiders and the like. And, frankly, I’m sure some of it will no doubt turn out to be true. It’s the nature of the beast.

    Maybe the best way the AMS can safe-guard itself, and the student interest, is to put the lodge at arms-length for the month of the Olympics?

    As to 4 months? I think that’s pushing it. That’s the AMS Lodge forgoing an entire ski season in revenue and denying that season to students. I think that’s unacceptable.

    Lastly, does anyone know if there are any statistics available on usual load of the AMS Lodge? Does the Business Committee look at that stuff? It might be relevant to know how many students use the lodge, for what, and who they are (ie. to make sure its not just the AMS, CUS, SUS, etc retreats :P).

  2. Ryan (Past AMS'er) on October 6, 2009 3:43 pm

    Regarding the AMS Whistler Lodge, I think it should be rented out to the highest bidder. This isn’t a comparable time to the rest of the history of the Lodge. The students who would be fortunate enough to stay in it during the Olympics will already (supposedly) be residing in Vancouver! The benefit these FEW students will receive is nothing compared to what the AMS could do with the money.

    “The AMS changing its mind would not look good.” Look back, the AMS changes its mind all the time.

    “Why wouldn’t the AMS have put out an open call for proposals? ” Way to go buddy, you’re thinking with your head… there’s still time.

    This should be moved to committee, you’re wasting the Council’s time. Good to see you’re still debating it!

    Tangible or not, the AMS provides valuable services for students.

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