Between the Motions: VP external officially referred to ethics and accountability committee for conflict of interest review

AMS Council met last night over Zoom to discuss the new ethics and accountability committee, VP External Kalith Nanayakkara’s apparent conflict of interest and recent allegations of cheating in MATH 100.

Here are the highlights.

VP External referred to ethics and accountability committee

Council voted to refer Nanayakkara to the newly formed ethics and accountability committee over his apparent conflict of interest.

The wording of the motion was broad, which AMS President Cole Evans said allowed the committee to decide the scope of the investigation.

Councillors also discussed having proactive declarations and discussions of conflict of interest, a topic brought up by Board of Governors representative Max Holmes. Other councillors echoed the sentiment.

Councillor Nevena Rebic raised concerns about how well the AMS has been protecting vulnerable students on campus given the Halloween pub crawl, saying the AMS should consider what “ethical proactive action” looks like.

Rebic referenced The Ubyssey’s article on Nanayakkara’s conflict of interest and the letters written by Evans and Nanayakkara to Council.

“I really appreciate a lot of the things that were said in [Nanayakkara’s] letter in terms of intending to do good and intending to serve students, but my sort of evaluation of the impact of actions is very much the opposite.”

No timeline was given for the committee review.

MATH 100 cheating allegations

Executives also discussed the recent MATH 100 cheating allegations that garnered widespread media attention.

On Sunday November 22, a reddit user uploaded a screenshot of an email from a MATH 100 instructor that alleged there were over 100 cases of cheating on the course’s midterm.

“If confirmed, the students involved will receive a 0% for the course (not just the midterm) and I will recommend their expulsion from UBC,” the instructor wrote in the email.

VP Academic and University Affairs Georgia Yee said that the AMS disagreed with the way the situation was handled.

“We should be, first and foremost, for grounding student well being and since so many students are stressed, that is not the type of email that you should be receiving from your instructor.”

Yee also suggested that this was part of a “larger problem” of UBC’s punitive approach to academic misconduct and said she will be pushing for a compassionate approach towards cheating, especially given the pandemic.

Student Services Manager Ian Stone told Council that the AMS advocacy office is aware of the allegations.

“I anticipate that when I give an update on data and statistics, next week during Council, we'll see quite a few people kind of making use of advocacy services for that.”