Candidate Profile: Andrew Liang, VP Academic and University Affairs

Andrew Liang is a third-year international relations major whose platform focuses on fixing what’s broken at UBC. He is running to bring accountability and transparency to the university — that he feels are focused solely on prestige over students — with the aim of restoring affordable education for everyone.

Describe your platform and what sets it apart from your opposition in a few sentences.

My platform really is about affordability and mind mainly because I just read the news every single day. A BMO study showed that 36 per cent of all post-secondary students in BC had experienced stress over their financial situation. You combine that with unaffordable housing — both in rent and finding an actual place to live — we’re leaving university with mountains and mountains of debt. If we tackle the core issues, which is the Board of Governors, we can pave the path for more affordability and to actually implement the things they have because they are important things that need to be done.

How have you been involved with the AMS before, and how will this help you?

My experience with the AMS is only this year when I was involved in Champion the Vote, which was fantastic. It’s not a lot of hands-on activity in the AMS, but I’d also point out that when you elect people, it’s not because they’ve been in the AMS or congress forever, it’s the other experiences that they bring.

What are the issues you’re trying to tackle and why do you think they haven’t been addressed already?

I don’t know why they’ve not been addressed. I really don’t. These were common sense issues. I don’t think my platform is particularly radical — I’m not asking for free tuition, I’m not asking for free rent, I’m not asking for the communist revolution. All I’m asking for is some transparency and accountability.

What was one thing your predecessor did that you agreed with and one thing that you disagreed with?

I think what Jenna [Omassi] did on the area of mental health is fantastic. We need a lot of help in this area and Jenna Omassi did a fantastic job. We got that $2.5 million from the university to invest in mental health — it’ll take several years, but she has a concrete plan to improve mental health in this university. I couldn't support that more and I will gladly continue this process. I’ve been fairly happy with how things are run. I understand it can be difficult to work with the university sometimes so they may have gotten small concessions, but most of my beef is with the university and the Board of Governors.

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?

My platform involves working with a lot of people, but I guess the person who I’d have to work with the most is the VP External and I’d be thrilled to work with either candidate. Louise Cowin, I’ve also talked to her and the experiences I’ve had with her have been overwhelmingly great. She’s a straight talker and is already a serious ally and already has a working relationship with the AMS. It’s the Board of Governors where I think there’s going to be the most problems.

Interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.