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 three presidential candidates.
Ian Stone: “... Almost 80 per cent of the campus didn’t vote [in AMS Elections]”
True: The 2019 AMS Elections recorded a voter turnout of 21.7 per cent.
Stone: “Our graduate students ... are disproportionate users of our food bank, they are facing a lot of economic insecurity with so many issues.”
True: According to the 2019 Academic Experience Survey(AES), 45 per cent of the surveyed graduate students said they had “worried that [they] might run out of food before [they] had money to buy more groceries” at least once. According to a UBC Social Ecological Economic Development Studies Sustainability Program report, “the most frequent users are off-campus graduate students supporting dependents.” The prevalence of food insecurity amongst undergraduate students, too, is similar.
Harresh Thayakaanthan: “This year, working with the RHA, I was able to implement accessibility and sustainability policy”
True: RHA Policy book outlines its accessibility and sustainability policy. Accessibility and sustainability advances have also been mentioned in the minutes of RHA cabinet meetings, but Thayakaanthan cannot take single-handed credit for these discussions.
Cole Evans: “Western University their USC [University Students’ Council] did an excellent campaign this year, where they actually ran a full-fledged campaign on getting marginalized folk to marginalized communities interested in leadership positions across campus, and that's exactly how we can increase engagement and increase people running.”
True: The University Students’ Council of Western University launched a #HERETOLEAD campaign aimed at increasing marginalized groups running for governance and leadership positions.
Evans: “Ian changed his platform after [the] debate after repeatedly being called out for missing some issues like equity, inclusion, preventing sexualized violence, climate justice and supporting Indigenous community.”
True: The above statement was acknowledged by Stone. “I don’t have all the answers and I had the humility to listen and change my platform,” Stone said at the Great Debate.
Evans: “[Stone’s] revised platform outlines things that have already been worked on and unfairly takes advantage of the work that AMS staff put into these projects”
Partly true: Stone does acknowledge though that he was supported by his “120+ staff and volunteers” during his tenure. While Stone has outlined several achievements in his platform, it is difficult to comment on his exact role in each of them.
Thayakaanthan: “16.5 per cent of undergrad, graduate students are facing food insecurity.”
Misleading: 16.5 per cent is an average figure of undergraduate and graduate students facing food insecurity monthly. These figures are 37 per cent of undergraduate students and 42 per cent of graduate students for those who express concern at least once in the 12 months. Even though his platform correctly mentions this fact, Thayakaanthan didn’t articulate the complete fact clearly in the Great Debate.
Stone: “Stipends of PhD students are quite low, below the poverty line.”
True: UBC’s minimum funding policy guarantees PhD students $18,000 per year for the first four years of study. This figure is $2,000 below BC’s poverty line and does not take into account the fact that most PhD students spend more than four years on their degree, said Graduate Students Society (GSS) President Nicolas Romualdi in an interview with The Ubyssey. The GSS and AMS are advocating for the university to eliminate PhD tuition.
This is a live article and will be updated as further information comes to light.
—With files from Ethen Sun, Marissa Birnie and Charlotte Alden