We fact-checked everything your Board of Governors candidates said

A lot of bureaucratic lingo was thrown around at this year’s AMS Elections debates and it can be difficult for students who don’t work within the AMS to follow along, let alone know if they’re telling the truth.

With that in mind, The Ubyssey is fact-checking every candidate’s platform and all the statements they made during the debates to determine whether they're true, misleading or plain old false.

Here are our deep dives into some of the more questionable claims made by your student candidates for the UBC Board of Governors (BoG).

Platforms

Max Holmes, Jeanie Malone: “Took a stand and voted against unjustified tuition increases.”

True: As student governors, Jeanie Malone and Max Holmes — along with their Okanagan counterpart Jassim Naqvi — released a statement and wrote a letter to The Ubyssey highlighting the reasons why they oppose tuition increases.

Holmes: “I have successfully fought for a rent price cap on student housing to make housing affordable, more student housing beds on campus to address housing insecurity, funding for an integrated health centre and counselling units to support student mental health, a commitment to divest from fossil fuels to address the climate emergency and increased funding to support graduate students.”

True, with a caveat: In his January 2018 submission as AMS VP academic and university affairs to the BoG, he criticized the Housing Action Plan’s (HAP) rent price cap while it was undergoing a five-year review. This advocacy was instrumental in the cap being set “at or below market rental rates; relative to the local marketplace per CMHC [Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation] data and peer university across Canada.”

Holmes sits on the Academic Renewal Working Group (ARWP) to hire more faculty, build classroom space and acquire graduate student funding as a part of The President’s Academic Excellence Initiative.

On December 5, 2019, the UBC Board of Governors unanimously endorsed President Santa Ono’s Declaration on the Climate Emergency and committed to full divestment from fossil fuels, which Holmes often spoke strongly in support of in Board meetings.

While Holmes indeed advocated for these issues, he has to share credit with the many student activists, senators and politicians who were advocating alongside him. Also, it is too early to take stock of the outcomes of the ARWP.

Malone: “The votes against increases for the last two years have caused some waves with a record number of governors voting against the increases. This is an opportunity to have a deeper discussion about why we increase tuition.”

True: This year, the Board voted 14–7 in favour of increasing domestic tuition and 15–6 in favour of increasing international tuition. While the three student representatives on the BoG voted against the tuition increases, they were quick to acknowledge the reasons the Board voted in favour of such increases. UBC has justified the increases as making initiatives like faculty renewal and the expansion of Jump Start possible. They are also advocating for a comprehensive strategic plan on affordability that will create a long-term tuition plan while coordinating many of UBC’s other student cost-saving initiatives.

Malone: “Although UBC HOST hasn’t formally been created, it would increase borrowing capacity which could free up some of the funds we currently use to pay down debt on student housing projects which could be funnelled elsewhere. If the GBE is to be created, setting principles around the spending of that revenue is critical.”

True: The provincial government’s debt capacity restricts UBC’s ability to borrow money as a public-sector organization. Creating UBC Hospitality trust (HOST), a government business enterprise (GBE), would increase UBC’s borrowing capacities on both campuses.

First debate

Note: Candidates Brandon Connor and Axel Kong did not attend the first debate.

Holmes: “For the Blue and Gold campaign, over 100 million dollars was offered for student scholarships on this campus and Santa Ono doubled that goal to $200 million.”

True: Started in 2017, UBC’s Blue and Gold alumni fundraising campaign raised its five-year goal of $100 million by fall 2019 and doubled its target to $200 million by 2022.

Great Debate

Note: Candidate Axel Kong did not attend the Great Debate.

Malone: “Voting [for change of tuition] has much more dramatic impact on the budgets of UBC Okanagan than Vancouver.”

True: According to the 2019/20 UBC budget report, tuition accounts for $654 million of UBC Vancouver’s (UBCV) $2,011 million operating revenue, or 33 per cent. Tuition accounts for $100 million of UBC Okanagan’s (UBCO) $185 operating revenue, or 54 per cent. This is because in addition to tuition and provincial funding, UBCV receives 39 per cent of its revenue from investments, research, business and land revenue that takes place on campus and through its faculties and central support unit. In comparison, UBCO only receives seven per cent of its revenue from such sources.

Operating revenue, according to the 2019/2020 UBC budget report
Operating revenue, according to the 2019/2020 UBC budget report UBC

Malone: “Most of your tuition really goes to your faculty not towards the central.”

True: “Of the funding allocations made for the fiscal 2019/20 budget, 56 per cent have been made to faculties, 6 per cent to student financial aid, and 38 per cent to central support units,” reads the 2019/20 budget report.

This is a live document and will be updated as more information comes to light.