Between the Motions: Councillors discuss on-campus lending library, continue to voice concern over return to campus safety at August 4 meeting

The AMS Council met for two hours yesterday evening in its second hybrid meeting of the year to discuss the construction of a potential equipment lending library in the Life Building and to voice frustrations over the lack of action and communication from the Board of Governors with respect to student concerns over the return to campus.

Here’s what you need to know.

Councillors learn about The Thingery project

Chris Diplock, founder and CEO of the Thingery, gave a presentation to Council about an upcoming project to construct a Thingery branch in the UBC Life Building. The Thingery is a community-sourced lending library for recreational equipment and tools with two branches currently open in Vancouver.

The presentation outlined the lending library’s potential to improve social connectivity, reduce UBC’s ecological footprint and assist in emergency preparedness.

Earlier this year, the Thingery engaged with 69 students and 18 club representatives from UBC as well as both the AMS Operations and Sustainability committees. Their survey data shows strong support and interest from students and student clubs.

In terms of a budget breakdown, the Thingery is requesting a total of $38,500 in AMS funding.

Max Holmes, a representative from the Board of Governors, expressed concern that this project could only last a few years before petering out.

VP Administration Lauren Benson responded by pointing out that the majority of this funding goes towards the construction of the “shell,” or room, that would house the new service.

“[The Thingery] shell is still good and could house a new project,” said Benson. “That shell would provide a great structure for sustainability projects down the road.”

“The investment from the AMS side of things is really more into the construction of that shell.”

Council voices concern over lack of transparency from Board of Governors

In the Board of Governor’s report, Holmes acknowledged that the Board is “acutely aware” of the AMS’s communications directed towards itself and the university regarding requiring masks and vaccines in some campus spaces.

Holmes fielded several questions from councillors.

VP Academic and University Affairs Eshana Bhangu said the Board is not doing enough to engage with student concerns. “Why have we not received any response on our submissions to the Board, and why is there no conversation about it?” she asked.

President Cole Evans and VP External Saad Shoaib echoed Bhangu’s comments. Evans asked why the Board had held closed door meetings that weren’t announced to the public.

Holmes emphasized that he is only able to answer as an individual governor, and not on behalf of the Board as a whole. He said that he would relay these concerns and questions to the other governors and expects more public answers from them in the coming days and weeks.

Ahead of last night’s meeting, UBC President Santa Ono published a blog post and video addressing students’ COVID-19 concerns.

“We’ve stayed in touch with the President for the past 18 months of the pandemic, coordinating with the executive closely when it comes to the Board,” explained Holmes. “We will still be working in close coordination with the President … Hopefully we’ll see some movement in the coming days.”

Bhangu didn’t believe that to be an acceptable answer.

“Is that not the President’s job? Is that not the Board’s job?” questioned Bhangu. “I’m just shocked at the lack of transparency from the Board right now.”