Board of Governors candidates talk fee increases, divestment

Three candidates running for two student representative positions on the Board of Governors squared off at their first debate today.

Julie Van de Valk, who said her work on UBC’s divestment campaign is what spurred her to run, said that her main platform points are advocating for more student consultation, decreasing tuition and divesting from fossil fuels.

“I’ve learned how to advocate for students and people … I think that would make me a really strong voice for divestment, but also for any issues that would come up,” said Van de Valk.

Candidate and current AMS president Tanner Bokor argued that his experience in student government would allow him to be a reformer on the Board, particularly pushing for responsible, student-focused land use on campus and for affordable, accessible education.

“I understand UBC’s problems. I know what students care about,” said Bokor.

Engineering Undergraduate Society president Knott said that her experience both as EUS president and with more than 30 committees would allow her to be an effective student rep on the Board.

“I’ve learned to not be afraid to speak my mind…. Once you’re a student member on the Board of Governors, you are an equal member on the Board of Governors,” said Knott.

All of the candidates took issue with the university’s fee increases this year and said they would work to improve the consultation process.

The candidates also supported divestment from fossil fuels, as long as it was done responsibly, though Knott pointed out that the Board would likely finish its work on divestment before they are in office.

Knott and Bokor clashed on the role of a student Board rep in relation to the AMS. After Bokor said the relationship should be improved, Knott brought up what she saw as lack of connections to student BoG reps under Bokor’s leadership as President.

“Our student BoG reps have reached out to us and the AMS exec walked away from the table when they had an opportunity to engage,” said Knott.

The debate wrapped up with all three candidates saying they would push for more funding for graduate students after being asked about teaching assistant strikes at the University of Toronto and York.

The final debate will be held Tuesday, March 10 at 5:00 p.m.