From the Cult: A brief history of some AMS beefs, mistakes and meltdowns

The lights, the stage and the pressing questions on policy platforms... Some people glide through the elections unscathed by the pressure and come out victorious, or at least with their dignity intact. Others, however, can’t stand the spotlight. For the most part, AMS candidates keep their cool in the race, but when they don’t, things get interesting. Let’s take a walk down memory lane to see some historical beefs, meltdowns and broken rules in the last 18 years.

The election of 2000

The election of 2000 was a particularly contentious one. The hot topic of the election was the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA), a piece of legislation protecting tenants and landlords in BC.

Two candidates from the “Students for Students” slate were criticized by their opponents, the “Action Now” slate, for an alleged conspiracy involving them abusing their positions on the Place Vanier Residence Association (PVRA). The RTA stated that students living in university residences were excluded from the Act and therefore lacked some of the rights that normal tenants got.

The two “Students for Students” candidates, who were co-presidents of the PVRA, received a letter from UBC Housing to the Inter-Residence Council. The letter was a strongly worded message against the RTA, securing the position of UBC Housing against the Act. There were also allegations that one of them had helped to write the letter that was circulated. Two competing candidates alleged that this was a complete abuse of power and that the influence they had from being members of the PVRA created this conspiracy. The slates demanded that the two candidates be completely disqualified.

In the end, while the candidates were stripped of campaigning rights, they were kept on the ballot.

The 2009 grand slam

In sort of the grand slam of election meltdowns, the 2009 election was fraught with controversy. Firstly, one of the incumbent candidates for Board of Governors told the “Friends of the Farm” — a support group for the UBC Farm — that if they did not endorse him, he would not be “championing the Farm” if he was elected.

A recording of the speech he gave to the Farm group, was posted anonymously onto a blog and the candidate sent out a statement saying the quote was take out of context. While that was a pretty big blunder, that wasn’t even close to the biggest issue.

For the presidential election, Blake Frederick defeated his closest opponent, Alex Monegro, for the presidency by only 42 votes. He was then given the boot by the Elections Committee after they were given a video of Frederick and candidates for other positions acting in “slate-like behaviour,” along with a similar separate complaint from the runner up. This led to the runner up being named AMS President.

Frederick then took his case to the Elections Appeals Committee who took forever to come to a decision. Finally, 19 days after the initial disqualification, the Elections Appeals Committee overturned the disqualification. Frederick was announced as the 100th president of the AMS and things got back to their normal AMS dysfunction.

The elections admin beef

In 2010, The Ubyssey published a front page editorial letter calling out the AMS elections committee for their strict election guidelines, which we said were unfair. A choice quote from the piece read: “... let us remind you that we are an independent media organization, meaning that we are not part of the AMS, and could care less about your timelines. For some reason, we think that when we’re deciding who will be the president of the largest student union in Canada, seven days of campaigning before voting is too short of a time to have a real debate.”

In the next published paper, Isabel Ferreras (the Elections Administrator) clapped back at the editorial, sending a letter dissecting every critique The Ubyssey gave. Additionally, she claimed that a reporter had misled a candidate and issued us a warning.

The penalty box

In 2012, four candidates were penalized by the Elections Committee for “slate-like activity” after having their candidate write-ups sent out together in an email to the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences. One candidate, Erik MacKinnon, became very vocal in contesting his penalty. He insisted on collecting the write-ups of the other candidates and claimed that he asked that his name was not included in the bottom of the email. His name was misspelled anyhow.

MacKinnon was penalized anyway and his campaign was given a suspension, putting him in the proverbial penalty box.

So what can we look forward to this year? Who knows! Here’s hoping that hilarious blunders continue to fuel the @UbysseyCulture meme machine for the weeks to come!