Between the Motions: Policy reviews underway, councillors voice concern around AMS elections

AMS Council met on Wednesday night to discuss the society’s sexual violence policy and respectful community and workplace policy reviews, AMS elections and code changes.

Here’s the recap.

Policy reviews underway

Mimi Neufeld, policy advisor to the AMS, gave a presentation to Council on the policy reviews for I-17 and I-18, the society’s sexual violence and respectful community and workplace policies.

Neufeld and Dana Turdy, strategy and governance lead at the AMS, have been working on the reviews on behalf of the Executive Committee. Neufeld said that both policies were created as an “institutional response” to UBC’s policies. She said the policies filled “jurisdictional gaps” as the AMS is independent of the university.

She said the society needed to determine its values in relation to the policies. She explained that the AMS needs to ensure staff members who are implementing the policies are trained and supported, and the society needs to clarify who’s impacted by these policies.

“I-17 and I-18 both have extensive procedural sections that outline what to do in the case of violence. Those procedures require things like money … and education,” Neufeld said. “We'd need to make sure that the AMS can follow through with our commitments.”

‘Quite alarming’: Confusion around AMS elections

Councillor Katherine Feng introduced a motion asking the Elections Committee to report to Council by April 6 with an assessment on its pre-election event, Dress Up for Drama.

“Since [the Elections Committee] used student funds to host this [event], I also think it makes sense to have a report on things that went well, the things that didn't from this event in order to essentially inform the next elections team and help make improvements in the future,” Feng said. “And also just so that we have a better understanding of how those funds were used.”

The motion was adopted with unanimous consent.

On the elections nominations process, Feng asked President Cole Evans what training was provided for the Elections Committee. She said that other councillors she’d talked to thought the nominations process “could have been handled better.”

Evans said he was still “investigating” and didn’t have an answer for Feng at the moment.

Senator-at-large Julia Burnham echoed Feng’s concerns. She added that there being several uncontested faculty student senator races this year was “quite alarming.”

“That’s like an entire year of misrepresentation within the Senate,” said Burnham. “I'm quite concerned that we don't even have the answers to what's currently happening.”

Some faculty student senator candidates told The Ubyssey they felt “neglected” during and following the nominations process.

Following discussion, Council passed a motion that asks the Elections Committee to report back to Council about this year’s nominations process for faculty student senator candidates and Student Legal Fund Society board candidates by April 6.

Code changes

Council also approved three changes to the AMS code. The changes include making the Student Services Manager (SSM) ineligible to serve on the Finance and HR Committees, allowing candidates in constituency elections to appeal to AMS Elections directly and clarifying who can run and vote in constituency elections.

The first amendment is to ensure the SSM doesn’t have a conflict of interest and will go into effect starting May 1 to avoid any disruptions to the committees.

The second change allows candidates in constituency elections to contact AMS Elections for an appeals process in the event that an internal appeal cannot be finalized before the results of the elections or if the Elections Committee deems it unnecessary to wait.

Council also approved a code change that restricts which members of a constituency can vote in elections for specific years or programs. In those cases, the code change makes it mandatory for constituencies to make the same limitation on who can run in those elections.

The amendment comes as the Science Undergraduate Society’s computer science representative resigned late last year after posts on a UBC subreddit about his program status and past.