AMS debating whether to leave Alliance of BC Students

In a recent council meeting, the AMS discussed the possibility of withdrawing from the Alliance of BC Students (ABCS).

Founded in 2011, the ABCS is an organization whose objective has been to collectively represent the interests of B.C. post-secondary students on education issues. The AMS and GSS are among the post-secondary student associations with current membership in the ABCS.

According to Jude Crasta, AMS VP External, the ABCS recently witnessed the departure of various affiliated student associations and the resignation of all the organization’s chairpersons. According to Crasta, fragmentation of the organization may make it ineffective.

“A lot of people came with hopes that the ABCS would provide a unified student voice. However, with so many people fractured from the ABCS [and] refusing to work with the ABCS, it’s not even asserting that mandate anymore,” said Crasta. 

Crasta also said that membership in the ABCS at this point would be an impediment to the AMS in forming partnerships with student associations that are unaffiliated with the ABCS.

Not all AMS Councilors support departure from the ABCS at this point in time. Tobias Friedel, GSS President, believes that the AMS has not conducted a thorough enough evaluation of the plan. He said that a well-informed proposal should involve a committee that specifically examines the potential outcomes of such a decision.

“Should the AMS decide to leave, that decision should be based on a robust, well thought out process that I don’t see has happened at this point,” said Friedel. 

Friedel also said that leaving the ABCS would likely affect AMS lobbying efforts in the same way that the AMS’ former decision to depart from the Canadian Alliance of Students’ Associations did.

“On the federal level, close to no lobbying has been done since the AMS decided to leave and one of my fears, without a poll strategy in place for provincial lobbying, is that we’re going to repeat history,” said Friedel.

Robin Asgari, AMS arts councilor and Chairperson of the University and External Relations Committee (UNECORN), said that the ABCS actually receives very limited recognition from the provincial government in comparison to the AMS. Therefore, a departure wouldn't necessarily affect lobbying efforts. 

“When we’re advocating and lobbying the government, we’re advocating as the AMS and they know who we are. They don’t really know who the ABCS is,” said Asgari.

The AMS’ plan to withdraw from the ABCS began in August of this year through a review by the VP External Office and UNECORN. It first came into council near the start of the school year. The AMS Council will again address the issue of withdrawal from the ABCS in their next meeting on Wednesday, October 28.