is the ams really pushing for reduced tuition fees?

In AMS Elections 2011 on January 20, 2011 at 2:13 am

“but all candidates are running on the platform of ‘reduce tuition fees.'” this was the statement, overheard during lunchtime in the cafeteria, from a rank and file student in regards to the ams elections and variations in platforms. this sentiment is very common among ubc students. many students, if you speak with them, automatically assume that their student union is pushing the government and university to reduce tuition fees. they assume that their student union is working in their best interest and appropriately reflecting their will in terms of priorities for the student union.

the reality is there is a massive disconnect between what students want and what students actually get. there’s a huge difference between the wishes of the rank and file members in our student union and those who make decisions for the union. for the longest time, and arguably now as well, the official tuition fee policy of the ams is to accept tuition fee increases.

despite the referendum where roughly 4000 students voted in favour of changing the ams’ internal tuition fee policy to “lobby for reduced tuition fees and increased government funding,” the ams still refuses to push for reduced tuition fees. the students have spoken, the ams ignored the students. and this is reflected in many incumbents and ams councillors running in the executive elections. many of the candidates in the executive elections do not support reducing tuition fees. shocking, i know.

back to the rank and file student. i jump in and tell them the reality of the ams and their refusal to lobby for reduced tuition fees. their response is shock and awe. their response is also frustration and anger. they feel betrayed by their own student union. i told them to translate their anger and frustration into spreading the word about the election and voting for candidates who support reducing tuition fees.

we have an opportunity here to really turn things around. we can elect candidates who will listen to students and inject some integrity into our student union. so when you’re voting in the elections, especially for the vp external position, subject the candidates to this litmus test. here’s a quick and dirty guide to see if they support reducing tuition fees.

someone who supports reducing tuition fees:
– they explicitly say that they want to see tuition fees reduced. no ifs or buts.

someone who does not support reducing tuition fees:
– they talk about “student debt” instead. they avoid the words “tuition fees.” (they are too stupid to make the connection that high student debt is because of high tuition fees. want to reduce student debt? reduce tuition fees!)
– they talk about how they want to make “education accessible.” they don’t talk about how they would go about pushing for that. it’s because they don’t want to see tuition fees reduced. they just want to give you more student loans and more debt. like they say, “access to debt and student loans does not equal access to education.”
– they make factual statements but no statements of opinions. for example, they’ll say things like “tuition fees are too high.” okay, great, what are you going to do about it? the reality is, candidates who support reducing tuition fees will most likely say that. you can’t trust them if they are making incredibly vague statements.

hopefully, this helps. now, if you haven’t voted yet, you should. you need to check your inbox for an email from ubc giving you instructions on voting.

where’s the money coming from?

In AMS Elections 2011 on January 18, 2011 at 8:54 pm

so, election campaigns are expensive. printing all the handbills, posters and designing those flashy websites. it makes you wonder, where do students get the money to pay for all these things? but there is one candidate in particular that seems to have a lot of material — and material that’s not cheap too!

katherine tyson is running for vp external. however, have you realized that all her posters, which are all over the place, are in colour? that’s not cheap. now on top of that, her campaign team seems to be handing out handbills that are printed on cardstock, double-sided and in colour. now, i have done substantial amounts of printing before and i have worked at a print place before, i know stuff like that is not cheap. seriously, go down to your student-owned copyright and ask them how much the “postcards” would cost.

questions are raised about whether or not katherine has gone over the spending limit or whether or not she’s getting funding from external organizations. in case you’re not aware, katherine is openly involved with the conservative party of canada and the bc liberal party. (just google “katherine tyson conservative” or “katherine tyson bc liberal.” they will yield some interesting results).

also, if you haven’t heard, conservative parties have been involved in training their youth to infiltrate student unions and pirgs (public interest research groups). don’t believe me? see here: it’s probably happening here in bc.

you can probably put two and two together yourself.

so, keep that in mind when voting. do you really want a vp external, who is supposed to be standing up for you, taking directions from a political party? i don’t.

to the elections administrator: seriously, you should look into the issue of funding from external groups and candidates spending wayyy over what they are allowed to spend. these loopholes need to be closed up so that foreign influences are kept out of the ams’ election process.

ams elections: never getting it right

In AMS Elections 2011 on January 17, 2011 at 10:47 pm

will the ams elections committee ever get it right? for the past couple of years, the ams elections have been plagued with multiple voting scandals, unwarranted disqualifications of candidates, and vote rigging. now, when the voting is supposed to begin, students are having trouble signing in.

the new voting system is so cumbersome and makes it so difficult for students to vote. when voter turn out is so low, we don’t need to be adding barriers like involving emails.

the fact is, the ams elections committee had months to organize the election, they failed. and as a student, i’m losing confidence in the legitimacy of the entire election process. as a student, i no longer trust the system and whether or not my vote is actually being counted — that’s if i get to cast my vote this election.

if the ams really wants to engage students, they need to get their simple shit, like running an election, in order. it’s time the ams hire an independent and external body to run the elections and inject some confidence in the process. if they don’t, i swear, next year the ams will probably introduce the butterfly ballot.