Candidate profile: Mishal Tahir, VP External

Mishal Tahir, one of three candidates running for AMS VP External, is focusing her platform on achieving a SkyTrain line to UBC, improving affordability and scholarships — especially for international students — and strengthening student housing rights. As a third-year international relations and economics student, Tahir is looking to leverage her experience as VP External of the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) to “increase student engagement” beyond the constituency level.

“The VP External office is more [of] a means to arrange different things,” said Tahir. “I’m AUS VP External and I talk to [executives] about how ‘I’m more [of] a channel for you guys’ [for] reaching out to different people and organizations.”

In terms of concrete goals, Tahir wants to lobby the provincial government to honour its campaign commitment to interest-free student loans, as well as for recently-announced transit funding to be allocated to extend the Millennium SkyTrain all the way to UBC without stopping at Arbutus, which she describes as her most challenging goal.

“It’s tricky because there’s a lot of actors involved in this decision-making process,” said Tahir, noting that in the meantime she would also lobby for increased service on the 25, 33, 41 and 44 bus routes after collecting student feedback. “It hasn’t been set in stone where that [transit funding] is going directly so it does of course leave a bit of a gap to find means to secure Phase Two funding.”

Another one of her priorities is to look externally to businesses and alumni for further international student scholarship funding in order to compliment the recently-announced Blue and Gold campaign for students. Tahir acknowledges that this may fall more under the VP Academic portfolio, but that she would like to collaborate on the issue.

“There are some existing donors that contribute scholarship money for domestic students only and there are some for international students, but I definitely think that there is more that can be looked into for international scholarships,” said Tahir, noting that larger businesses like KPMG come to mind as possible donors.

As for student housing access, Tahir is committed to continuing the legacy of last year’s Rent with Rights campaign, but was vague in how she intended to ensure the adoption of all nine recommendations.

“I would add my element of creativity and unique element of my innovation to it and see what other options we could have to create more awareness about it to students and lobby more support than what we already have,” she said. “But most of the work would be just to continue [the campaign] to its endpoint.”

Tahir stressed that her focus would be on keeping up the momentum of ongoing advocacy and laying the groundwork for future achievements.

“If you’re advocating for something as a student and you’re putting your time and effort into fighting for something — you want to see results,” said Tahir. “I do want results, but at the same time, results that are long-term and sustainable.”