Alex Kilpatrick is a fourth-year political science student from Cape Town, South Africa. Working under Abby Blinch in the communications office of the AMS, he has experience morphing the university’s social media platforms into a tool that can be relevant and useful for engaging UBC students. He aims to continue similar initiatives if he were elected, emphasizing plans of tangible, immediate effects for students.
Describe your platform and what sets it apart from your opposition in a few sentences.
People advocate for themselves, and then when you couple that with traditional lobbying like the great work Jenna Omassi did there, it’s a lot more effective than just having Jenna go and talk to the university administration and be like, ‘Hey, textbooks. Too expensive.’ But when 90,000 people are agreeing that they’re too expensive, it becomes a whole thing. I want to take that model of first engaging with students and then taking that and making it the backbone of lobbying to other offices, specifically the VP External office, because that is where I see the most benefit coming from.
What drew you to this specific position?
I think it’s where the most benefit can come from. It’s the one position where that strategy hasn’t been incorporated at all. The VP External office has previously been quite isolated, quite traditional in their model of lobbying. It’s not the most effective. I think there are real gains to be made there for students.
What are the challenges facing this position in the upcoming year?
First of all, the provincial election of 2017 is going to be both a huge challenge and a huge opportunity. It’ll be really important opening those lines of communication and then be very clear about what students want. Another thing that’s going to be challenging is that students aren’t used to engaging in external advocacy for themselves because this model hasn’t been adopted yet. So getting them on board with that is going to take a little bit of effort.
What was one thing your predecessor did that you agreed with and one thing that you disagreed with?
[Bill C41] threatened the existence of a lot of student unions across Canada. Jude [Crasta] was on the phone with an MP within hours and it got changed eventually. That’s a really good example of lobbying. Something I disagree with is stuff like going to Paris … [and] Boston for the Ivy conference — I mean, those are all valuable learning experiences, but they’re expensive and not really relevant.
Who is the most important body or person you need to collaborate with in this position, and how will you foster a relationship with them?
Some of the ones that are neglected are Translink. It has only been lobbied on one issue, which is building the Broadway subway, which I 100 per cent agreed with. I think we’ve had a pretty openly hostile relationship with the UNA (University Neighbourhoods Association) for a long time. They own property here … there are a lot of gains to be made there.
What’s the weakest part of your campaign or platform?
I don’t have a huge amount of experience in the VP External office. I can’t name three committees that they sit on and I don’t have any experience in council. I’ve been to council, I’ve been covering council for a long time. But a lot of things they talk about, it’s Greek to me.
Interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.