AMS VP finance by-election candidate profile: Lawrence Liu

AMS Associate VP Funds Lawrence Liu is running to become the next VP finance on a platform to raise mental health coverage, open a new food outlet in the Nest and expand financial support for students.

The fourth-year interdisciplinary studies major has previously been an AMS arts councillor, the associate VP university affairs in 2021/22 and a candidate for AMS VP admin in 2021. Liu told The Ubyssey he wants to “put that all that experience to use” and “make an impact.”

The AMS announced last week that its mental health coverage under the AMS/GSS Health & Dental Plan would increase from $1,000 to $1,250. The coverage had been raised from $1,000 to $1,500 in the previous policy year (September 1, 2021-August 31, 2022), but reverted back to $1,000 on August 31.

Liu called the $1,250 in coverage “simply not enough,” pointing out that with inflation, he’d “noticed a rising cost for mental health practitioners.”

“On a shorter term, we’re going to have to look to the Health and Dental Reserve Fund to support that increase,” he said when asked for the source of this increased coverage. “On a longer term … I want to give that option back to the students to see if they want that increase.”

Liu said he would also push to open a new food outlet in the old Pie R Squared location. He said he would consult with students when asked to specify what business would replace the pizza outlet during the first debate.

According to minutes from the September 15 AMS Executive Committee meeting, the AMS is planning to open a Mediterranean food outlet where Blue Chip is. The former will move to the old Pie R Squared location.

Highlighting the opportunity of the space, Liu said, “a few years ago, the Pie R Squared location brought in over $400,000 in revenue. Right now that’s zero.”

Pie R Squared has been closed since the start of the pandemic in spring 2020.

When asked about where the proposal fits in the traditional responsibility of the VP finance position, Liu said the project would require collaboration between AMS execs and that “a big portion of that will lie on the Managing Director ... who reports to the Executive Council.”

As VP finance, Liu would like to make students more aware of the financial support offered by the AMS, saying he believes the student body “doesn’t know enough about the different support services, financial aid, offered by the AMS.”

“I think I can really help to bridge that gap in communication, and that’ll come in forms of public outreach and public engagement.”

The next VP finance will have only seven months, rather than a full year to complete their work, something that has influenced the scope of Liu’s platform.

“I think it really reduces the potential of the magnitude of projects and initiatives that you can implement.” Contrasting his platform with his competitors, Liu said his goals are “very possible to achieve in the next seven months.”

Liu is running against AMS Strategy and Governance Lead Kamil Kanji and the Arts Student Centre (represented by Mathew Ho).