AMS Update for November 18th

The Alma Mater Society of U.B.C. Vancouver November 18, 2009

PLACE: Council Chambers SUB Room 206

Themes: awkward turtle, Chinese herbal yummy tea, and heckling
Food: sandwiches and cookies (I LOVE COOKIES…no seriously, I am at Blue Chip far too much)
Best Dressed: Madam Green: smart blazer+ heels+ jeans= lovely.
Shout-outs to haircuts: Matt Naylor, Tim Chu (and I think Tahara). WAY TO GO!
Shout-outs to facial hair: Bijan who, along with looking like the Persian version of Mario, had a fantastic moustache

And like always, if you are simply craving more AMS, please check out UBC Insiders!

“We might be in for a late night/ Stuck in a lava flow of brake lights”- Julian Casablancas

A late night indeed. But hey, I expected it and I live to tell the tale: a tale of political power plays, secret motivations, and student government. So let’s go down this rabbit hole yet again, all together now, and delve into another council meeting, discussed, analysed and ultimately reported to you by yours truly. Once again, despite my steady descent in jadedness, I enjoy writing this to you, the commerce student, and I truly hope you can gain a better understanding of what YOUR AMS does.

(1) A Non-voting Disability Seat on Council

“Your constituency is engaged, I hope all you have your ears open”- Rory Green

The issue: Whether the AMS should establish a non-voting seat on council for a self-identified disabled individual (broad definition intentional).

The good: (1) this would allow council to move one step closer to being a more “representative” body, thus fulfilling a mandate for formal representation (2) would allow for another leadership role for a disabled student who can voice concerns that are (apparently) not typically raised on council (3) legitimacy within the AMS as to truly having a disability voice (4) ability for said councillor to sit on committees and speak up there as well (5) a whole host of other things, including a sense of “doing good” for the AMS

The bad: (1) Council would not necessarily be more representative, especially if this seat simply becomes a token seat on council (apparently this was the case for an aboriginal seat long ago) (2) As far as I know, there already are “disabled” councillors/general AMS hacks. I can easily count at least 4, and if my recent fail on a mental health test is any indication, 5. With that said, we expect students, disabled or not, to raise concerns to their representatives. (3) There is a potential for this non-voting seat to open a veritable Pandora’s Box of multiple “minority group” seats. (4) There are other, perhaps better options.

The ugly: There were a few complaints as to the guests that were at council that evening in support of this motion. Without getting too personal, let’s just say that respect was not a priority at that particular moment. And that’s totally fine, it occurs when people feel strongly about an issue and become passionate and heated in discussion, but I wasn’t particularly pleased with being made to feel like a complete monster. Therefore, I strongly believe in having a less hostile talk and collaborating instead of bringing, what I believe is an Out of the Blue motion. Essentially, I feel that people want to do good and feel like they have accomplished a tangible result, hence motions such as this. The problem, however, lies in the process and not the purpose.

The solution(s): (1) Create a resource group (2) Invite all students, including students with disabilities to council meeting where they can always voice concerns

The result: Motion failed

“It’s meant to shrink wrap our presentation”- Stephen Owen, UBC VP External

(2) Presentation on MetroVancouver‘s proposed zoning bylaws

The issue in three sentences: 1. MetroVan wants to create new zoning bylaws that will decrease UBC’s power when it comes to academic zoning 2. UBC is obviously angry about this whole ordeal (a) because it undermines their power (b) increases the time to get any approval for academic-type buildings on campus 3. The AMS is like, “hey, this might be a good thing; MetroVan was willing to listen to us when the UBC Farm issue came up, maybe they’re trying g to tell you something UBC”

What did Stephen want? To update council and get support

What did he get? Council telling him that perhaps the REAL problem is the UBC governance structure and not Metro Vancouver. The very fact that Metro Vancouver is starting to look at this speaks volumes.

Executive Updates are Always Great

What does Blake seem to be doing?
Figuring MetroVan’s plan and SUB renewing.
Johannes spoke at Remembrance Day
And according to the UNA
Saltspring is no more
And while meetings are a bore
Crystal is SUB-ing and chatting with alumni
Tom seems to be a fun guy
Even though things might have gone sideways
Out East he spent his days
Pavani is meeting with student development
Services is her element
Tim is campaigning
And while this is particularly draining
There will be two more b-line stops
And the cuts campaign is tops!

Constituency Updates (because we like other faculties….no, seriously, we do)

ARTS is getting ready for night of a 1000 dinners
New dean reveal because they’re winners
And FrAUSTbite at the Chan Centre
ENGINEERING wants us to watch tbird play
And pre-drink and say yay!
SUS is lacing up for the kids
And suiting up for finals
In LAW there’s a lot of “banging in the library” (Dia)
And HKIN is also lacing it up
BoG is looking at the brand
Senate changes entrance requirements
For Albertans
Yay to all!

“…suck it up and do your jobs!” –Matt Naylor

(3) Oversight motion

The issue: The executive is not meeting nearly enough, leading to a lack of communication so oversight is forcing them to meet at least once before each council meeting

The ugly: Few can doubt that the lack of communication is leading to a dysfunctional executive when it comes to working together. It is unfortunate it has come to this but Oversight Committee and council strongly feel that to avoid “random” motions, it is imperative for the executive to meet. The desire is fully reasonable.

The solution: It is executive’s responsibility, especially the president’s to act as leaders and manage conflict. In other words, be a leader, suck it up and work things out. Reality: that’s what leaders do.

The result: Motion passed

(4) Grad Class code changes

The issue: Apparently Grad class council, a council that decides the grad present and such, cannot do anything because it never has quorum. These are code changes to change that.

The  result: Motion passed

“You have the black cats, the white cats and you vote in the mice”- Tim Chu

politicalkat(5) Electoral procedures

The motions:

1.  Better appeals deadline so that appeals occur within 7 days after balloting closes

2.  International Student election to better define who can vote and who can run and a whole bunch of nomination procedural things

3. Slates! Slates! Slates!

1. Passed

2. Passed

3. talk talk talk……tried to be amended….talk talk talk…motion failed

“I raised my head. The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed sombre under an overcast sky–seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness.”- Joseph Conrad

The Issue with Slates: If these past two years have taught council anything it is this: people work better when they genuinely like each other. What are slates? Basically, slates occur when people run together. For example, if Susan ran for President, she could endorse Brad, who was running for VP External. They could, also, pool their money if they wanted to and create posters with both their faces. According to the proposed changes, they would have to register with the Elections Administer if they ran on a slate.

The good: (1)Slates would allow for candidates that work well together to get elected (2) Implicit slates already exist, formalizing them would show some light into the matter and allow for less trouble come election time (3) It would be easier for individuals to get involved as they would have support from other candidates

The bad: Because of the nature of slates, (1) students might be forced to adhere to the slate’s goals and not their own, polarizing the political pool into three huge slates and no others, (2) slates would limit the diversity of opinion on council once candidates are elected, (3) slates have the potential to actually decrease the number of people running as candidates would need to find slates to become members of and(4) some slates will simply have people there for token diversity who are not necessarily good candidates.

The ugly: This is an extremely time-sensitive and controversial motion and of course we spent a disgusting amount of time on it. Some did not want senate seats to be on slates, others wanted to bring it back to committee, and so on.

The solution: Let’s go back and ask ourselves why we need this motion. Two very simple reasons: (a) we want a better executive that can work together and (b) we want more representation, more people, engaged and running in elections. With that in mind, council needs to understand that slates may not hold the whole answer. Indeed, as far as I’m concerned, inspiring the executive to work together is the president’s and executives’ duty. In all honesty, I am a firm believer that while there may exist left and right-wing tendencies within council, the truth is that all members of the AMS want to help students first. So…suck it up, collaborate and work together. In the real world, people rarely agree, yet somehow things get done regardless. It’s called compromise and working together and now is a great time to learn those skills. As for more representation, people will start to run if they can see that they can make a difference. The solution, therefore, encompasses vastly changing the way the AMS is perceived and motivating students to care enough about the AMS to run. For this to occur, the AMS needs to start caring more about engaging students at the grass roots level (having more entry level types of positions).

The result: Motion Failed

At this point it was midnight, six long hours into the meeting… my laptop was dead, my head was not functioning and my mind was elsewhere.

(6) YVR motion

The issue: If you are going to the airport, the upass is not enough; you need to pay an addfare in the amount of $2.50. The AMS is against this addfare.

The motion:

Whereas TransLink has proposed a Canada Line YVR Add Fare which would require a passenger, travelling between Bridgeport and Templeton Canada Line stations in either direction, to pay $2.50 in addition to the applicable zone fare for travel to Richmond; and

Whereas TranLink has indicated that, if implemented, U-Pass holders would be required to pay the YVR Add Fare; and

Whereas TransLink has agreed to provide U-Pass holders “unlimited use of TransLink funded bus (including Community Shuttles), SkyTrain, and SeaBus transportation services within the GVRD”;

Therefore Be It Resolved That the AMS oppose the inclusion of U-Pass holders in the scope of the YVR Add Fare; and

BIFRT the AMS President submit comments to the TransLink Commissioner prior to November 30, 2009, articulating the AMS’s position on this matter.

The result: Motion passed unanimously

(7) Committee Appointments

Councillors got appointed, but I wanted more MAL positions as that’s a great way for students to get involved in the AMS.

Looking Beyond the AMS

I’m starting to realize that the AMS is more than simply student government. It has such potential for enacting positive change, but unfortunately, I’ve also seen its faults, and as a result, have grown a rather thick skin when it comes to issues. Last council meeting, I felt judged because I was blonde, white and in commerce. THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. The environment in the AMS is one that lacks inspiration and is extremely hostile. When people believe that what they are doing is right, they will go to trmendous lenghts to attain it, even if it means harming others. I truly hope you all understand that I for one want the AMS t change for the better.

Together, I know we can make it work.