As per UBC Insiders tradition, we asked this year’s president to make some endorsements. As Blake cannot due to slate rules, this is a guest post by Mike Duncan, the illustrious president of the AMS in 2008-09, and current Board member.

If you know me, you know that I care deeply for this school and for the AMS. I want to see the best for students and think that the AMS must play a role in improving this campus. It is with this in mind that I tell you who I think would be the best for the future of the AMS.

Mike’s Ballot


President: Natalie Swift

VP Academic: spoiled

VP Finance: Elin Tayyar

VP External: Jeremy McElroy

VP Administration: Ekaterina Dovjenko

BoG(2): Azim Wazeer, undecided

Senate(5): Joel Mertens, Johannes Rebane, Spencer Rasmussen, Ryan Bredin, undecided

SLFS: roll a dice

International Rep: roll a dice

Ubyssey Publications Society: listen to the Ubyssey coverage

Referenda Questions

Student Court Bylaws: Yes

Impeach Blake: No

Impeach Tim: No

Engagement Levy: No

CPI: Yes

Bylaw Amendments 2010: Yes

Access UBC Fee: No

Reduce/ lobby for lower tuition fees: it’s your personal choice

Disabilities seat: No

General Observations

I have to be honest; so far, I have not been impressed with the individuals in the elections. I know how difficult the election time can be, but this year I see too many candidates trying to be overly political and refusing to commit to real change. My overall advice for all the races (with the exception of the Board race, which has been quite exciting) is to stop hiding and show us your personality and passion.

Presidential Race: Natalie Swift

This race is the easiest for me to endorse. Natalie Swift has, from the beginning of her time on this campus, impressed me with her dedication to her values and her ability to see the greater picture. She has the experience being a president and VP academic of a student society and would be the only person who can repair our society. Furthermore, while I respect Bijan’s ability to relate with the Board of Governors, I have seen first hand how he sides with the University when the student interest is elsewhere. I also don’t think he has the vision to be able to unite a diverse executive to achieve great things.

Vice President Academic: spoiled

So far, neither of these candidates has impressed me. Rodrigo has been at UBC for quite some time (approaching Bijan territory) and knows the issues quite well. The problem is, he doesn’t understand how to go about fixing these issues. He is an important part of this campus where he frequently defends minority positions, but he doesn’t have the leadership necessary for this position. As for Ben, he still has yet to get his platform line. Furthermore, I am not confident that he understands the position and what is necessary to succeed in it. The governance issue is going to be the largest and most important part of the VP Academic’s duties in the coming year and he hasn’t taken the time to understand this issue.

Vice President Finance: Elin Tayyar

This is an unfortunate race: one candidate vs. a joke candidate. Elin is competent and will do a fine job. Unless you want the accountability of the “Invisible Man” then I recommend voting for Elin.

Vice President External: Jeremy McElroy

This is one of the few interesting races. It includes a funny joke candidate, an incumbent who many students are unhappy with, a serious candidate from the ‘inside’, and a serious candidate from the ‘outside’. Despite what I consider to be an unfortunate website, my vote will be going to Jeremy. Jeremy has frequently demonstrated that he is on top of his game, has impressed me with how prepared he is and he truly stands up for student values. His platform is quite long (maybe too much so), but it shows a deep understanding of the issues and a commitment to making a difference. Stas seems like a good guy who cares about this position, but his platform is seriously lacking. It includes things that any VP External should do, and others that aren’t truly related to the position.

Vice President Administration: Ekaterina Dovjenko

I have been very happy with this race and would be equally comfortable with either candidate being elected. It has been hard to decide who I truly think would do a better job for the AMS. Both candidates have done their homework and know a lot about the current ‘New SUB’ process. Michael is a much more reserved character and I think his personality would fit well on an exec team; however, despite its name, the VP Administration position is the “Student Life” executive and is the position that should be spending more time engaging students. Ekaterina’s type A personality is better suited for that. Also, through watching the debates, Ekaterina seems to be able to continually trump Michael’s ideas and provide better answers.

BoG(2): Azim Wazeer

This has actually been a race where people show emotion and passion. Thank you for that. I respect where Blake comes from and appreciate his passion. I know that the UBC Administrators doesn’t like him and while I believe that personal opinions shouldn’t affect the Board, the truth is that they do and that Blake would never be listened to. Sean is another interesting character who could do a good job. Unfortunately, his election platform focuses on solutions that will not work. Guillaume spoke with passion at the debates, which I was very happy to see, but he needs to focus more on his platform as opposed to basing it off of attacking Blake. There is no doubt in my mind: Azim should get this position. He is an intelligent individual who has done a variety of things on this campus, has actually attended BoG meetings, and is aware of the issues and dynamics. He knows how to play the Board game and will do it well.

Senate(5): Joel Mertens, Johannes Rebane, Spencer Rasmussen, Ryan Bredin

Caveat: there are so many candidates in this race that I am basing my opinions primarily on the debate and previous knowledge of the individuals.

I have to say that I was quite disappointed with answers from the senate debate. People who actually knew the pertinent information were few and far between and a lot of time was spent diverting questions. That being said, I choose these 4 for a variety of reasons. Primarily, they all showed the commitment to actually come to the debate. Joel has been a senator before, knows his stuff, and while I don’t always agree with his stance, he does indeed take a stance and backs it up well. Johannes is the other knowledgeable candidate and it is inherently beneficial for the student voice to have past VP Academics on senate. Spencer was a difficult choice. He is a one-issue candidate: focusing almost entirely on sustainability. That being said, you can’t do much as a single senator and with him focusing all his energy on sustainability, he may actually be able to get results in this field. Ryan impressed me with his knowledge despite never having been ‘involved’. That being said, I am not a big fan of his “defeat the hacks” slogan.

SLFS: roll a dice

I really haven’t seen much in the way of campaigning for this race and I think that the fact that there is one slate against a few individuals, students will automatically vote for the candidates who are in the slate and are aligned with each other. This is unfortunate because it will decrease the variety in this body.

International Student: your choice

Okay, I haven’t seen much campaigning for the SLFS, but I have seen even less for this position. The AMS website has pictures and short bios with information about three of the candidates. With that, I let you decide whom you want to vote for.

Ubyssey Publications Society: listen to the Ubyssey coverage

I don’t know enough about this position and am sure the Ubyssey will have better opinions on who should get elected. Listen to their coverage.

Student Court Bylaws: in favour

This is a confusing set of bylaws and I am still not entirely convinced of its implications. In general, it will ensure that AMS Council cannot overturn election’s appeals decisions handed down by Student Court. This is important because it is very easy for AMS Council to be biased towards certain candidates in an election and it is a huge conflict of interest for council to be able to not accept these decisions. More work needs to be done to make this body useful, but for now, this referenda question is a good start.

Impeach Blake Frederick: opposed

This is no longer about trying to benefit the society by removing an individual who wasn’t following council’s views. This is now vindictive and political. Removal of Blake will cause a difficult transition, a vacancy of the Presidential position for some amount of time, and only removes him for a few weeks. It is petty to vote to impeach Blake and I can’t support it.

Impeach Tim Chu: opposed

Same answer given for Blake’s impeachment.

AMS Engagement Levy: opposed

I know there are many AMS folks who support this, but I have to say, it is not a way to increase engagement. Just because you have to vote in the AMS Elections to get your money back, does not mean you will be engaged in the slightest. If we want to solve our engagement problem, lets actually address it rather than trying to raise a fee, which will probably just piss people off.

Tie fees to CPI: in favour

I truly understand that people don’t have enough money to go to school and don’t want to see any fee increases: I am one of them. But right now, the AMS is losing money each year because our costs go up and our income stays the same. The AMS has some of the lowest student fees in the country because our businesses keep us afloat. The AMS can’t do its job if it keeps loosing this money. This question only makes sense to pass.

AMS Bylaws: in favour

These are a little complicated and there are a bunch of small changes. Basically is solves a bunch of institutional mistakes with our code. I don’t have enough space to outline all the changes but they are good for the society.

Increase in fees for Disability Students: opposed

I agree that we should help fund issues related to underprivileged groups. The problem with this is that the group that this money goes to is not a UBC group. It has been created by UVIC students and doesn’t seem to have any affiliation with UBC. Sorry folks, if they want money to improve their issues, they should go to their own students.

Reduce tuition and increase support: depends

I am not taking a stance on this issue because it is a personal debate that each person should have independently. Do you think that tuition is a right or a privilege? We need to do more to ensure that education is accessible despite your personal background, but strictly lowering tuition is not the most effective way to do this.

Add a seat for Disability Students: opposed

Unfortunately I have to oppose this question. I agree that we don’t listen to underrepresented groups enough at the AMS. But the council voting system is based off of a proportional representation system and if we start adding random voting seats in a piecemeal fashion we are going against the principles of democracy. There are better ways to solve this problem that will actually make a significant improvement in the representation of these groups. Lets focus on solutions that actually work.

Editor’s Note

We also offered Blake Frederick the opportunity to give us a write-up detailing his selections. However, because he is running for BoG and Senate, the Elections Administrator ruled this would be unacceptable under slate regulations.


16 Comments so far

  1. Steven C on January 23, 2010 12:48 pm

    Hey Michael,

    Just wondering if you could apply some more transparency to your post.

    For example, what do you mean by “depends” to the above question of tuition increase. I thought this was a black and white exercise.

    And on the point of the AMS presidential race, it’s cool whoever you support but you only seem to have reasons why you chose Natalie, and none for why you didn’t chose Bijan.

    Can we have an example of when he hasn’t defended student’s interests? You gave no specifics which smells like personal vendetta to me…

  2. garner on January 23, 2010 7:40 pm

    Mike’s thoughts on the academic race, as well are not thoughts – i read Rodrigo’s platform and was impressed by how much detail he has put together and it will make me very confident on the AMS to have someone with a graduate degree around. I have not really read anything that impressed me in this post. I also feel Mike was extremely unfair with Bijan, we all know Mike is just doing campaign for Natalie, plain and simple. Just the good old smear tactics – name calling, no explanations, and hasty judgments… later we hear these guys are trying to bring people together, yeah right


  3. Martha L. on January 23, 2010 7:57 pm


    I agree with the above posts as well.

    Mike- Are you not the campaign manager of Natalie Swift-if so do you not have an obligatioN to declare that?
    If so shouldnt the Insiders have marked that with red ink??Weird.

    I must also flag this judgement:

    Impeach Blake: No

    Impeach Tim: No

    AMS Engagement Levy: opposed-is that JUST b/c you are opposed to Matt N.?

    “Just the good old smear tactics – name calling, no explanations, and hasty judgments… later we hear these guys are trying to bring people together, yeah right”

  4. Alex Lougheed on January 23, 2010 8:40 pm

    Mike’s not Natalie’s campaign manager, and even he was that would simply serve as an endorsement of her campaign. It’s also not a conflict of interest because it is the same interest when you provide an endorsement and when you work on a campaign.

  5. Alex Lougheed on January 23, 2010 8:41 pm

    Also, Insiders’ endorsements coming up Sunday! Stay tuned.

  6. Natalie Swift on January 23, 2010 9:03 pm

    Just to re-iterate, no Mike is not my campaign manager. My dear friend Tracy Wootten is my campaign manager and she has been working tirelessly on my behalf. I am incredibly grateful for her involvement and support (along with all members of my campaign team)

    I have done my research, just as any individual should when running for AMS President. I have gone not only to Mike Duncan but also Jeff Friedrich for their advice and thoughts. I also interviewed all members of the current executive, including the ECSS and sustainability coordinator to determine their vision for the AMS. None of these individuals are on my campaign team, but all served a role in assisting me understand the complexity, depth and issues associated with the position I am seeking. It is simply the responsible thing to do.

  7. Jennifer Farouzi on January 24, 2010 6:19 am

    If Mike is not actively helping Natalie campaign, what was he doing sitting right next to her during the entire all-candidates meeting and assisting her? Maybe Lougheed was not around at that time. Mike also commits a logical absurdity, and claims that less experience is a better thing, in the case of Bijan and Rodrigo. For Mike, others having too much experience on campus is dangerous. His experience, of course, of living 5-6 years on campus (mostly to party) is more valid and important than that of grad students. This posting is sad for how much logic it lacks. Mike even goes on and claims that the ‘disabilities seat’ will privilege ‘random’ people. This is insulting at the least, and he shows his ignorance of the issue by insinuating only UVIC has the seat. It’s just painful to read – we can all be relieved that Mike will partying away and trying to finish more than a single course this year. Students should be very glad he is not running for anything, because the problem is that he would probably win it

  8. Collective Farmer on January 24, 2010 6:26 am

    Natalie’s response here is quite telling: she looks for advice from AMS execs, previous execs and whoever else has been involved in the past inside – she DOES NOT even mention going to students to see what THEIR vision for the AMS is. She cares more for what Duncan and Friedrich may think, because she is afraid to do something that will show too much personality, and we have to make sure that the previous men in power approve of us before we can be allowed to be candidate. Partying together is the most important thing for Friedrich and Duncan (oh, forgot the ‘r’) – they certainly were regulars at the Pit when I worked there and I saw plenty of non-president worthy actions being taken there in public.

  9. Andrew Carne on January 24, 2010 11:37 am

    Folks, please keep in mind these are ‘Mike’s Picks’. These are the stances/candidates he prefers and his reasons behind them. If you disagree with him, then that’s your prerogative, but please understand that this was is intended to be a more personal take, from someone who has formerly been AMS president.

  10. Michael Duncan on January 24, 2010 12:18 pm

    Thank you for the comments. I don’t usually comment on blogs, but I am excited to have a discussion here.

    1) Steven C. You are correct. This post doesn’t provide much backing to my positions. I did this on purpose because I thought that the average person wouldn’t want to read a novel. Clearly I judged wrong and hopefully I can further clarify my decisions in this post.

    2) Presidential Race. This is probably the most important one to talk about. It would be a lie to say that I was not giving advice to Natalie. I am. I am doing this because I am convinced that she must be the next AMS President and I want to make sure this happens. And it is with that certainty, that I list above who my endorsements are. I think that is pretty reasonable.

    As for Bijan, many of you know that we have had some disagreements. Before the start of this election period, we had actually been working well together. Unfortunately, with the start of this election, and my refusal to support Bijan, he has started to attack my credibility (case in point: Ubyssey article titled UBC uses “secretive voting procedure”. In this article Bijan misportrays many facts about what we were doing collectively to figure out what was going on, and he directly blames me for the lack of action. This was both of our failures.) He has also directly told me that if I am to help Natalie’s campaign, things will not go well for me on Board this coming term: insinuating that he will make things difficult for me. Yes, you can see that I do not like Bijan, but when I said the above comments in the post I was speaking the truth. I have seen Bijan act in opposition to the student interest (case in point: when he tried to convince the Board that students are transient beings and should not be given control of project management of architectural selection for the new SUB Project.) And I honestly don’t believe that he would be able to bring a diverse executive together (case in point: absolutely any AMS council meeting.)

    2) Academic Race. I never claimed that more experience is worse. If you look at what I said in my post, I was defending Rodrigo’s knowledge of campus by saying that he had been here quite a long time and I made a joke that it was similar to Bijan. It is difficult to actually say during a race that you want to spoil your ballot because that angers everybody in that race. I ask you what leadership Rodrigo showed in his term as an executive for the GSS? If you can show me tangible actions maybe I will change my mind.

    3) No on impeachment of Blake and Tim. This is an easy one. If there is a benefit to doing this, let me know. All I see are the negative implications of damaging the transition period, leaving the AMS leaderless, and showing students that they are correct when they say the AMS is too political.

    4) Increase in fees for Access UBC. Do your homework. Why don’t you take a look at who is running this ‘Access UBC’ group. It is entirely UVIC students and the group is based out of Victoria. This does not help UBC.

    5) Disabilities seat. I actually said ‘random’ to show that we have picked a disabilities seat instead of a LGTB seat or something else like that. Please don’t misquote me.

    6) Personal attacks. This has always been why I don’t post on blogs. People have a right to attack me and I don’t particularly like to fuel those attacks. Lay it on me: I must be a horrible person because I like to work hard, and party hard.


  11. Chris on January 25, 2010 12:55 pm

    The only “smear tactics – name calling, no explanations, and hasty judgments” I found here came from the comments. Accusing Mike of helping a certain candidate when a) he never claimed he wasn’t and b) this is an OPINION piece stating who he’s supporting… it’s just illogical!!

    Thank goodness some people here aren’t running for office.

  12. Martin on January 25, 2010 6:40 pm

    Hey Chris- I know who you are. Sure if this was an opinion piece-FINE. But if the Insiders were concerned about maintaining any credibility -why not an opinion piece from A Bijan supporter??????????????

  13. Neal Yonson on January 25, 2010 8:37 pm

    The preface to this post was quite clear. We wanted the endorsements of the current AMS president. Since Blake was unable to do so, we asked Mike, who was president before Blake. If you feel our credibility is damaged, you are free to stop reading.

  14. TLG on January 25, 2010 10:15 pm

    All – the purpose of this site isn’t necessarily to be without bias. That’s impossible. All you can do is your best to declare your bias and the basis for it. And it’s rather silly to suggest that the site should be opened up to someone advocating for each candidate; that’s what their own web sites are for.

    The purpose of this site is to invite smart, intelligent, and knowledgeable people to provide their perspective. Mike’s just expressing a view, and, helpfully, explaining his own bias.

    No, I take that back. It’s not a bias. It’s an opinion. And I value that opinion.

    He’s also spent a year working with Bijan on BoG. Whether or not that’s worth something is up to you, but that’s the beauty of free speech – the speaker gets to say it, and you get to decide whether or not to listen. Take it or leave it – your call. But, in my view, one would be foolish to ignore the perspective of someone who’s worked closely with many of the candidates.

  15. Natalie on January 26, 2010 12:50 am

    it seems to me Duncan has so much trust in himself!
    and he is picking Natalie Swift because he is mad at Bijan for personal reasons!
    its sad to see where you come to Mike!
    I am happy you are not running anymore because I was getting sick of your strip pole dancing.
    you are just against Ahmadian because your dont like his personality!
    Bijan has done way more than you have done for UBC students!
    as I heard, you told Natalie Swift you will support her if she runs against Bijan, and you were one of the biggest hopes she has!
    its sad to see the previous AMS president is so shallow and selfish on his opinions!

    very well said –>“Just the good old smear tactics – name calling, no explanations, and hasty judgments… later we hear these guys are trying to bring people together, yeah right”

  16. Maria on January 26, 2010 2:34 am

    And this is exactly why I stopped blogging and lost all interest in being involved in any way, shape, or form with AMS politics. It’s also why students don’t vote. It’s really frustrating to see someone voice their opinion, and to have people accuse that person of being biased- especially when they then present their own biased views to counteract the opinions of others. It’s Mike’s opinion, and it is as legitimate as the opinion of any other person. When you all have as much experience in AMS politics, perhaps you too will be asked to write opinion pieces. Those smear tactics you’re accusing Mike of using? You’re using them as well. Seriously- stop acting like 6 year olds and sulking when someone disagrees with you. It’s time to grow up and understand that just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean that they’re some sort of awful person out to get others. Yes, our experiences with people affect how we vote- it would be a problem if we ignored all negative experiences with others and blindly voted for them even though their actions contradict the principles they verbalize.

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