Proposed bylaw change to reflect reality of AMS ombuds role

The AMS is trying to remove a part of its ombudsperson’s job description requiring them to represent students in university appeals — something the AMS says the ombudsperson effectively hasn’t done for years.

As a result, the AMS is proposing to change the ombudsperson's bylaws to accurately portray the role.

The AMS Ombuds Office is an independent AMS-funded unit to solve disputes between constituencies and clubs as well as handle student complaints about the AMS.

There are three main independent organizations that assist students on campus, including AMS Ombuds. The other two are the AMS Advocacy Office and the UBC Office of the Ombudsperson for Students.

The AMS ombudsperson is funded by student fees, and the UBC ombuds office is jointly funded by the university, the AMS and the Graduate Student Society, according to its website.

AMS President Cole Evans said the proposed bylaw change will allow the AMS to comply with its own bylaws. The proposed bylaw change should have no immediate effect on students — the change is to ensure that the bylaws are authentic to the job description.

“This part of the bylaws — that is really just a historical remnant of what the original role was.”

Evans said that the AMS ombuds transitioned away from representing students to UBC around the time that UBC formed its own ombuds office in 2009.

Currently, UBC Ombuds and AMS Advocacy fill the role of helping students approach the university with complaints and appeals such as housing and academic misconduct concerns. All three offices now act as advisors to help students represent themselves.

Evans said he was satisfied with how the AMS ombudsperson is currently handling situations that arise from clubs and the student body.

Even with the AMS’s proposed change to AMS ombuds, Evans said that there will be no gaps that will let students fall through.

“We’re very careful with all these bylaw changes to make sure that we’re not negatively impacting students — only positively impacting,” he said. “So given the fact that there’s already a robust university ombudsperson system that exists, we’re not worried at all that there will be any issues.”