First-year bachelor of international economics student Matthias Leuprecht is running to be one of five student senators-at-large in the UBC Vancouver Senate.
“I have a bold and progressive vision for UBC,” said Leuprecht. “And that vision is that every student will understand how their degree leads to environmental sustainability and Canadian Indigenous reconciliation.”
To achieve the first goal of sustainability, Leuprecht wants to continue recent reform efforts to the curriculum guide.
“I want to … ensure that when courses are reviewed and those courses come up, that there’s enough sustainability-related content in those courses and that they’re going through the sustainability consultation process.”
Leuprecht anticipates that achieving that goal will require thorough consultation with professors.
“I think the biggest challenges we’ll face is from current program chairs and department heads who have put in place large programs like political science that maybe don’t have as much sustainability-related content in them as they could and working with them,” said Leuprecht.
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He also has some concrete proposals to help UBC work towards Indigenous reconciliation.
“I want to change academic policy so that Indigenous guest lectures are prioritized when professors can’t make the lecture and there’s an absence,” said Leuprecht.
Leuprecht also wants to expand the Senate policy J-54, Admission for British Columbia Youth in Care, which provides a path for children in the youth-in-care system to attend university.
Leuprecht explained that a third of homeless youth are part of the LGBTQ2+ community, the vast majority of whom are represented in the foster care system. Indigenous children are also largely overrepresented in foster care.
“That’s a policy that would make a really big difference in a lot of people’s lives across campus.”
These core issues — sustainability and Indigenous reconciliation — are more than just talking points for Leuprecht.
“I do believe that climate change is the most important issue facing our society today. I do believe it is the biggest risk to our world, and I think it’s extremely important that UBC is a world leader on that issue.”
Advocating for Indigenous rights is what inspired Leuprecht to dive into politics in the first place.
“When I was fourteen I had the opportunity to visit an Indigenous reserve and what I saw was horrific,” said Leuprecht. “There are people in Canada who live in third-world conditions — it is absolutely devastating. The fact that you can’t drink tap water in Canada in some places, in particular on reserves, should immediately shock people and make them reflect on how we’re treating them.”
Other issues Leuprecht wants to tackle are passing the recommendations of the ad hoc committee on student mental Health and wellbeing, improving Senate engagement with faculty, and demanding Senate’s accountability for small programs like his own in the Vancouver School of Economics.
This article has been updated to clarify Leuprecht’s discussion regarding the composition of youth-in-care system.