Candidate profile: Erin Co, VP external

Erin Co, a third-year international economics student, is running for VP external to help students stay “focused on being a student.”

In her role as associate VP campaigns and community engagement in the VP external office this year, Co said she learned about diverse student experiences and gained lobbying training which would help her advocate for students, if elected.

Co said she would make student affordability a top federal lobbying priority.

She wants to advocate for student debt cancellation through an expansion of the repayment assistance plan, which begins to cover principal loan debt after 60 months under the plan or 10 years of repayment.

Co also wants to lobby for increasing the maximum amount for the Canada Student Grant federally and the BC Access Grant provincially.

On housing affordability, Co would lobby for an increase in the student living allowance, a standard used by Student Aid BC to determine financial need separate from tuition.

She also wants to work alongside UTILE, a Quebec non-profit organization, to develop “sustainable student housing” and create more housing options for students in BC.

On the subject of student safety, Co wants to “concretize” the minimum standards on sexual violence policy laid out in the sexual violence and misconduct policy act — something that VP External Saad Shoaib successfully lobbied for this past year. She emphasized a personal connection to this issue.

“I sometimes don’t even feel safe walking around my own campus and I want to know that there are policies in place to protect me.”

Co also wants the AMS to allocate more funding for the Sexual Assault Support Centre (SASC) and UBC’s Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office (SVPRO). Funding does not fall under the purview of the VP external, and SVPRO is a UBC service.

To improve mental health support, Co wants to lobby to expand and raise awareness around the Here2Talk program. As AVP, she lobbied the provincial government to improve Here2Talk alongside Shaoib.

Co said that one challenge the VP external faces is “that people don’t really know what the external office does.” Because of her experience as AVP, Co said she would be “well equipped to connect with students” if elected.

She would take a “two-pronged approach” establishing larger social media and on-campus presences to speak with students about what the VP external does and seek their concerns.

“I think if students know what their AMS is doing for them, then they’ll be able to access these resources that we’re fighting for, and also help us with their lived experience.”

On the topic of rapid transit to UBC, Co said she would lobby the Mayor’s Council and work with UBC’s rapid transit team to secure the remaining 20 per cent of funding needed for the Skytrain to UBC business case.

She also wants to work with the U-Pass advisory committee to make the U-Pass more affordable, as well as expand eligibility for exemptions as many students may continue to feel uncomfortable coming to campus.

“Just because maybe restrictions are eased up doesn’t mean that they still don’t need that kind of support.”

She is also also an active member of Alpha Gamma Delta.

Follow us at @UbysseyNews on Twitter and follow our election coverage starting February 28. This article is part of our 2022 AMS elections coverage.