Race Profile: Board of Governors

Posted by: | January 22, 2010 | Comments Off on Race Profile: Board of Governors


UBC Insiders Analysis

Click here to skip to profiles of the candidates in this race.

The 21-member Board of Governors at UBC is composed of “the Chancellor, the President, eleven persons appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council (representing the province), three students elected by students, three faculty members elected by faculty, and two employees elected by employees.” Two of these students are elected during AMS Elections from the student population at UBC Vancouver. (the third student is from UBC Okanagan).

These elected representatives are privy to a vast amount of information about UBC, as essentially every major decision is passed by the Board. They also have a unique opportunity to speak before the Board about student issues, and ensure that major developments at UBC are not negatively impacting quality of education or the student experience.

We asked candidates about which Board Committees interest them; what the biggest problems with the Board are; what is important about the role of the Board; and how they will advocate and increase student accountability to the Board.

See Candidate Profiles and what would make Andrew’s ideal BoG candidate, after the jump.

As two of the 21 members of the Board, it is often argued that the student representatives have effectively no power around the table. In addition, as the issues are often complex, with long and detailed amounts of background information, it can be difficult to break down issues in a way that the average student can understand. This is exemplified by the constant theme of “improved communication” which has been present in BoG candidate platforms for the last several years. While we constantly hear candidates talk of how they will bring all the issues to students, seek feedback, and represent them effectively, I have yet to actually see a BoG rep follow through on these commitments and do anything truly innovative to reach the student body.

A particular pet peeve of mine with respect to BoG candidates, is those who come forward with very specific issues, elaborate plans, or particular goals. While this is how you often want to campaign for other positions, when I see this from Board candidates it simply shows me they fail to grasp how the Board really works. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a *good* thing that the student reps will be unable to spearhead any real initiatives during their one-year terms, but sadly that’s the way things are. If someone is elected who only cares about a particular issue or two, it becomes a dangerous waste of the position. The correct mindset (in this editor’s humble opinion) is to research *every* issue in detail to determine how it will effect students, seek feedback, and ensure that the student view is communicated.

This is not an easy job. Yes, the Board only meets a few times a year. To the layperson this might seem like BoG rep is an extraordinarily simplistic and laid-back position. While there may be some quieter periods, if the position is done correctly, it will not be easy. As mentioned above, the issues the Board tackles are incredibly complex and often rely on a large amount of background information. Student reps must be willing to put in the (often hours of) time necessary to fully understand the implications of every motion. Communication should happen both at the table, during meetings, as well as in the weeks before-hand after the docket is available.

Board is also not a soapbox, or a place to voice particularly controversial topics. Like it or not, if we want the people we elect to this position to be effective, they must be able to work effectively with the rest of the members. This means that they may have to take a more neutral position than they might personally feel is applicable, but in doing this they are more likely to effect *some* positive change, than if they were to argue voraciously for the opposite viewpoint.

This year is a particularly important one for whoever we elect to represent us in this position. With the Metro Van controversy planting the issue of Governance firmly in the forefront of everyone’s mind, there will be excellent opportunities to effect change in the structure of how UBC is run, and how decisions are mad at a very fundamental level.

In short, an effective BoG rep will be: a good communicator; a “moderate” in terms of how they tackle issues; very knowledgeable about UBC and its inner workings; well-liked by both the University Administration and the student body.

With no further ado, I leave you with the Candidate Profiles and responses to the our questionnaire.

Candidate Profiles


Name: Sean Heisler
Age: 20
Year: 3rd
Faculty and program: Integrated Engineering
Years on campus: 2
Past campus involvement: Applied Science Student Senator, EUS Equity Officer, Advocate for Transfer Student Housing with Student Housing and Hospitality Services
Past non-campus involvement: Working Group Member in the Business Process Review of the BC Transfer System for the Ministry of Advanced Education, Canadian Engineering Competition Champion for Impromptu Debate

1) What committees will you sit on? Why?

Property and Planning Committee -> Both the transit plan and the Housing plans will be coming through here, and being on this committee I can advocate for student consultation, as well as ensure that housing continues to expand in a student-centric manner.

People, Community and International Committee -> This would be where I would be able to push for developing a metric for student consultation as well as a database for contacting interested students and groups.
Governance Committee -> With the MetroVancouver  discussions coming to the forefront, Governance will become immensely important. Here is where the student voice can be entrenched into University policy, and consultation and votes mandated.

2) What is the most important role of the Board?

The Board exists to govern UBC, and because students are the foundation of the University (without us it would merely be a research lab), the Board thus exists to support students, be it directly or indirectly. In that role, setting the policies and protocols new projects must follow is their most important role, and where students can be most pivotal.

3) What is the biggest problem with the Board of Governors?

Currently the Board of Governors is very isolated from students, and from other student leaders. Regardless of the reasons that led to this, the Board governs from above students right now without a real perspective from genuine students. Members need to spend more time with students, and develop a student perspective for themselves, instead of the ones administrators might put forward.

4) In what way will you advocate on the Board?

For me, voting against every motion that might be contentious doesn’t further the student cause, it would only discredit my voice for future causes. The effective way to advocate is through discussion and comments, constructively instead of combatively. Through the subtleties of that advocacy, policies and initiatives can be aligned with student needs.

5) What will you do to increase student accessibility to the issues the Board discusses?

Ideally I would want closer relations with the AMS executive than this year, though the dynamics of the executive are beyond my control. If that isn’t possible (and even if it is), close ties with media outlets such as UBC Insiders, Ubyssey or the UBC Spectator would also help broadcast issues to the hacks who care, and hopefully through them the student body at large can become more in touch with the Board.


Name: Azim Wazeer
Age: 23
Year: 4
Faculty and program: Commerce – Real Estate
Years on campus: 4
Past campus involvement: UBC Senator elected by the students at-large (two terms), Assistant – Centre for Student Involvement, Imagine UBC, President – Inter Fraternity Council, AMS Business Operations Commissioner, President – Phi Delta Theta at UBC, 4th Year Representative – CUS Board of Directors, Speaker – TEDxTerry talks 2009
Past non-campus involvement: British Columbia Mainland Cricket League

1) What committees will you sit on? Why?

I hope to sit on primarily the Property & Planning and Governance committees for their key role in questions surrounding land development (be it student housing, institutional development or market projects) and the response/approach to a brand new and uncharted campus governance structure. These two committees are directly aligned with my platform objectives to push for more student housing, faster and ensure a strong role for students in any new governance structure that UBC might find itself in. I would also aim to take a seat on the Finance committee to make sure dollars spent by UBC are enhancing the student experience in as many facets as possible. But most importantly, I look forward to working with the other elected student member to ensure effective representation and advocacy for students is met on all committees through a coordinated, team-based approach.

2) What is the most important role of the Board?

In a broad sense, the most important role of the Board is that of strategy: aligning all the elements of the university in order to achieve its goals (be it the vision, mission or 5-year plan). What comes along with this is a responsibility to hold the executive and administration accountable for achieving strategic objectives as well as advocating for the University’s interests to the community, Government and various other relevant groups.

3) What is the biggest problem with the Board of Governors?

Beyond the controversies (as far as students are concerned), I think the biggest problem that the Board faces which can actually be addressed in my term, if I am to be elected, is poor communication. Most students, and potentially the wider community, are unaware of and may not understand what the Board is doing and possibly it’s purpose. I say this because I was certainly in this camp in my early years on campus. After experiencing student government and, especially, the University Senate was I able to understand the Board, its framework, its recent policies and how decisions are made there. Herein lies the the problem most relevant to students. If the Board cannot be understood or is off the radar to students who are not hacks, much of the meaningful student consultation required to back up proposals can’t happen. Without this, an additional layer of difficulty is encountered by students on the Board trying to make change and create good policy.

4) In what way will you advocate on the Board?

As someone from a diverse multi-cultural background who is well-versed in student issues and the business world, I will act to build bridges between the Board and student interests. My diplomatic demeanour and ability to communicate in a style and tone that other Board members, executives and administrators alike will understand will allow me to communicate student priorities in a constructive and effective fashion. This coupled with my legislative experience in the Senate chambers and tense and complex relationship as a Fraternity leader dealing with the University and campus community, which sometimes created opposing sides, provides a wide variety of approaches to that I can bring to the table as I advocate for students.

5) What will you do to increase student accessibility to the issues the Board discusses?

There are two immediate ways which I will do this if I am to be elected. The first is to be personally accessible via office hours, telephone and e-mail as well as a sort of ‘Board Awareness Campaign’ that I want tour campus with to highlight the current issues and generate a better understanding of the body’s functions and purpose. The second way is through a blog that posts analyzed and relevant sections of every Board docket in a form that is comprehensible to students that are disinterested in complex policy language. I want to encourage vibrant discussion of these issues via the blog that will hopefully allow for myself and my fellow student rep to see what the real-time students pulse is.

Name: Guillaume Houle
Age: 28
Year: 3rd year
Faculty and program: Faculty of Arts, Major in Political Science and Minor in IR
Years on campus: 3
Past campus involvement:

* Le Club Francais AUS Representative from September 08 to January 09
* Arts AMS representative from January 09 to April 09
* Member of the Arts Last Lecture 2009 committee
* Treasurer of “The Great Arts Send Off 2009” organizing committee
* 2009-2010 Arts Undergraduate Society President
* Permanent member of the SUB renewal committee since April 2009
* Member of the AMS Business and Operations committee since April 2009
Past non-campus involvement:

* 2000 Junior National champion in downhill mountain bike racing
* Treasurer of the BC Francophone Youth council from 2001-2002
* President of the BC Francophone Youth council from 2002-2006

1) What committees will you sit on? Why?

Once settling into my position of student representative on the Board of Governors, I would primarily seek to be part of the Governance committee because it will be the committee where the student representatives will have to strongly voice their concerns over the impending changes to the governance of the University. I would also look to join the Property and planning committee because I want to make sure that student’s interests are included in future infrastructure projects at the University. I would perhaps elect to sit on other committees but at the moment, those are the two that I feel are absolutely fundamental for students to have a voice on.

2) What is the most important role of the Board?

The Board of Governors’ main role is being the main source of responsibility and oversight of the university’s financial well-being which includes its administration, its financial viability, its land and the operation of its many business units.

3) What is the biggest problem with the Board of Governors?

From a student’s point of view, I would say that the Board of Governors of the University is simply unknown to students. Since getting involved in student government at UBC, I have noticed that a substantial amount of students know that they are part of a student union and that it manages the SUB where it operates a diversity of business and student services. However, most students I have encountered on campus are oblivious to the governance structure of the University which makes them unaware of the Board of Governors.

I also believe that the Governors are largely detached from the student population and that they are often so far removed from issues that are fundamental to student life. This disconnect is most likely the driver behind many student’s qualm with the Board; there simply is not enough communication about Board and student issues being communicated in both directions.

4) In what way will you advocate on the Board?

I will advocate by being a strong voice for students and making sure that our issues are being heard and taken into account when votes and important decisions that affect students are being made. I fully intend on using my strength as a relationship-builder in order to foster meaningful and good working relationships with board members.

5) What will you do to increase student accessibility to the issues the Board discusses?

I will increase student accessibility to issues of the Board by being in tune with the electorate that I will represent on the board. I will communicate to every student I encounter through either student government involvement or classroom announcements that I am their student representative on the Board of Governors and that their feedback will be welcome on the issues currently up for debate at the Board level. To put it nicely, I am a friendly, approachable and a great listener and plan on using all of those qualities when it comes to fulfill my duties as student representative on the Board of Governors.


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