Little known fact: Student politics is a cutthroat world. It’s full of enough intrigue, betrayal, and backstabbing to make even the Lannisters on Game of Thrones feel out of their depth.
Just kidding! Did I get your attention?
Sure, student governance may not have quite the same visceral thrill as watching Cersei brilliantly consolidate power in GOT (#TeamCersei). However, what it lacks in swords and dragons, it makes up for in direct impact on your time as a student.
You have the opportunity to have your say in how UBC runs through the upcoming 2019 AMS Elections. Though they may seem complicated at first glance, the opportunity to vote for your fellow students and make change is worth the effort.
This year, the AMS Elections will be held from March 11 to March 15.
I know how it feels to be confused by the whole thing—nobody said democracy was simple! Therefore, I'm here to guide you through the positions up for election and how to cast your ballot so the process feels like a breeze.
What is the AMS?
The positions you’re voting for make up the UBC Alma Mater Society. Our AMS has a variety of responsibilities, but some of the most visible include:
- Running student services like the Sexual Assault Support Centre, Safewalk, and the AMS Health and Dental plan
- Managing and overseeing UBC clubs
- Operating the Nest and the businesses inside it
- Organizing events, like the annual end-of-year Block Party
They also have a variety of committees that work on everything from student-related legal cases to opening a microbrewery on campus!
What positions are up for election and what do they do?
There are 8 positions you can vote on:
President: The public face of the AMS, who communicates messaging and supports the Vice-Presidents’ portfolios.
Vice-President Academic and University Affairs: The intermediary between the student body and university governance. They work on a number of key university issues, like sexual assault, tuition, sustainability, and campus planning.
Vice-President External: Works mainly with external governments to get politicians to support student causes, like fees, housing, and public transit. They also advocate for students to get civically engaged like I’m doing right now!
Vice-President Finance: Collaborates with various groups and committees to make sure the AMS coffers are in tip-top shape.
Vice-President Administration: Manages all 350+ clubs on campus, as well as helping run the Nest.
Board of Governors (BOG) Student Representatives: Two UBC Vancouver students sit on the BOG (thankfully not IN a bog), and these positions are up for election. They work on non-academic matters, like tuition, the university budget, and university buildings.
Senate Student Representatives: The student-elected positions work with academic policy, like admissions, exams, and student awards.
Student Legal Fund Society Representatives (SLFS): The SLFS provides legal services to students in areas like tenancy rights.
You can check out all the candidates and their platforms on the AMS website.
How to vote
The actual process of voting is pretty easy—you don’t even need to leave your bed. Once you’ve read about all the candidates and know who you want to vote for, log in to AMS Voting using your CWL anytime during the voting period. Scroll down to find the 2019 AMS General Election option, and you can start choosing your favourite candidates.
If you don’t feel well-informed enough to choose a candidate in a certain category, that’s okay. You can always choose to abstain, though I would encourage you to research as many candidates and positions as you can!
Why it matters
In the 2018 AMS election, only about 20% of the student body voted! That’s like trying to play a basketball game where only one team member shows up (and no, that team member is not LeBron James).
It might be hard to see why taking the time to research student government is important, especially during a busy time of the year. But if you care about tuition, exams, housing, clubs, food, or a number of other issues, then your vote could really make a difference on the things that affect you and your friends as students.
You’re spending 4+ years at UBC, so you might as well have a say and try to make your time here as great as possible. As a UBC student, you’re an expert on this institution and all the things that make it great. That also means there’s probably some things you’d like to see improved.