The AMS passed a policy detailing how the society can expel people from its properties, which has drawn allegations of hypocrisy and anti-homeless prejudice.
AMS Council voted Wednesday night to update the AMS Policy on Expulsion from AMS Property, which outlines how the society can expel people from buildings like the Nest, AMS-run events and constituency spaces for criminal violations as well as 12 “nuisances,” including some that would affect low-income or housing insecure people such as “using the Premises as a private bathing facility” and “salvaging discarded food from garbage cans on the Premises.”
UBC Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice professor Litsa Chatzivasileiou said the policy “reeks of anti-homeless prejudice” as well as privilege and elitism.
“As if we have to somehow fortify UBC — make it into this fortress of [excluding] marginalized people, including marginalized students,” she said. “My question to these people is: are homeless people invading UBC?”
In a statement, AMS President Alan Ehrenholz said that while “some of the points might pertain to food and housing insecure individuals,” the AMS provides other resources for community members in need, like the Food Bank.
“The policy governs conduct only to the extent necessary to protect AMS members and nonmembers and ensure peaceful and safe enjoyment of our facilities by all,” he said.
VP Administration Pooja Bhatti stated before the vote that the policy was designed so that “nothing compromises the mental and physical well-being of our AMS members,” and emphasized that the policy would not be “easily abused,” but did not offer further context.
Chatzivasileiou said the policy only protects the well-being of some AMS members “at the expense of house- and food-insecure people, including students. So why do you choose to protect one segment of the student demographic and exclude another?” she said. “Who feels threatened by people that are house- or food-insecure, or by marginalized students?”
Though the AMS consulted with its Operations Committee and the Sexual Assault Support Centre, Chatzivasileiou said she was concerned that students did not have enough of a say in its drafting.
“Before they voted for this did they open this document to the broader UBC student community to discuss it and debate it?” she said. “To me, this is an indication of a very authoritarian way of deciding such a policy that can affect a specific student demographic."
While AMS Council members briefly discussed amending the motion, it proceeded to a vote as originally drafted and passed easily, with only three abstentions. No votes were cast against the policy.
Chatzivasileiou said she was “really appalled that these people came up with such a cruel policy,” expressing concern that UBC, including the AMS, is becoming a “very elitist institution.”
She said she got her start as an educator in Greece, where universities are considered “an asylum and a sanctuary” for marginalized people. “It seems that these people have no understanding of the university in these terms.”