AMS fills ombudsperson and elections administrator positions for the school year

The AMS has officially filled the important positions of ombudsperson and elections administrator for the school year.

At its September 12 meeting, AMS Council unanimously approved the appointments of Frank Ju as ombudsperson and Halla Bertrand as elections administrator, who will both serve the student population independently from the AMS.

Providing confidential service, the ombudsperson helps with conflict management in internal disputes in AMS clubs or constituencies. The role also includes “receiving and investigating complaints about the AMS.”

“Having an ombudsperson is ... important because the student community needs someone to to listen to their complaints and to be able to investigate and resolve it,” said Ju.

“[The process] could be emotionally draining and take a lot of time … and at the end of the day, if you have to go through adjudication, then you [would] have to prepare your own evidence or report.”

Ombudsperson Frank Ju
Ombudsperson Frank Ju Courtesy Frank Ju

Meanwhile, Bertrand described her responsibility as primarily managing the AMS Elections that happen in March of each year, while also helping with constituency elections in the fall and spring.

“My position is entirely unbiased so other folks who are employed by the AMS don’t have a say in how the elections are run, or what is interpreted in the case of appeals,” she said, “and that’s where I come in — so I’m that body that candidate to come to if they have problems or have questions about the code or things like that.”

Describing their academic background and former work experiences, both said they feel prepared for their new roles.

Ju is currently a second-year student at the Allard School of Law who has previously worked in the Law Student’s Legal Advice program where students provide free legal assistance under the supervision of a lawyer.

“I’ve been very involved with [the program] — I’ve done many cases involving … assault, employment, residential tenancy, debt collection [and] human rights,” he said.

“So … I think I’m able to present a student’s case well to the AMS or to another student.”

Elections Administrator Halla Bertrand
Elections Administrator Halla Bertrand Marina McDuff

Besides being a fifth-year classical studies student with a minor in law and society, Bertrand said her skills mainly come from working at the campus radio CiTR as its president last year and its business manager this year.

“I frequently hire staff and do the HR side of things so I’m doing reviews with my student executive — it’s a large part of what I do — and I have extensive experience doing conflict resolution in ways that will be super transferrable to this role,” she said.

“[The work has] taught me a lot about how to manage the opinions of a body of people and how to best come to a conclusion that will benefit a lot of people but may not be everyone’s first choice.”

Bertrand also noted her management experience as Bard on the Beach’s operations coordinator, which involve running a team of usually 30 volunteers and helping up to 900 patrons.

With just over two weeks in their new positions, Bertrand and Ju expressed that they are excited to build on the works of their predecessors and serve with the student community.

“... I have not worked in an organization that is quite as large just purely in terms of scale as the AMS, and that appealed to me,” said Bertrand.

“It appealed to work in an environment where my predecessors have done such amazing work ... it appealed to me to continue that work, and also to be in a position where I can be more in the public face of UBC and to actually be able to connect with students on that level.”

“I just hope [students will] be able to trust the AMS in that in selecting me, they have faith that I will be able to do the job and I hope my experience comes through from the way I’ve been working rather than me having to say out loud,” Ju said.