Candidate profile: James Cabangon, VP external

James Cabangon, a fourth-year political science student, is running for VP external to continue the work he started as associate VP (AVP) external this year.

One focus of Cabangon’s platform is student affordability. Cabangon said his personal experience with financial hardship motivated him to work for the AMS and would contribute to his advocacy on the subject.

“I really understand what students are facing and what those financial gaps and barriers consist of.”

In his role as AVP external this year, Cabangon lobbied for the removal of interest rates on federal student loans and to increase the loan repayment assistance threshold alongside VP External Saad Shoaib.

If elected, Cabangon wants to continue that lobbying work and push for eliminating more student debt and doubling the Canada Student Grant maximum.

He also wants to support international students through a tuition increase cap, saying there are “no real mechanisms to account for the fluctuation in the cost of their tuition.”

Cabangon believes the AMS needs to improve its advocacy on climate policy. If elected, he would pursue partnerships with green corporations to make the AMS an effective federal lobbying body on that front.

“The AMS … has really failed to address the student concerns regarding climate, and that’s simply because we don’t have the qualified opinion on climate, not yet.”

On the subject of student safety, Cabangon lobbied the provincial government to establish minimum standards on sexual violence policies with Shoaib, and said he would like to see these measures implemented equally across universities.

“Students are frustrated, and they want to ensure that support for survivors isn't varied from institution to institution.”

Cabangon also wants the AMS to take a stronger harm reduction approach to the toxic drug crisis. He believes naloxone kits “should be as accessible as condoms” through increased AMS partnerships.

On the related topic of mental health, Cabangon is concerned by the low percentage of students who find the provincially administered Here2Talk program helpful. He wants to “facilitate consultation” to try and improve the program.

Cabangon would also recommend the provincial government partner with local health care providers to make long-term mental health care more accessible for students.

Cabangon sees barriers to students understanding what the VP external does, and if elected would try to increase the portfolio’s visibility. He also wants to provide more channels for students to reach the VP external office.

“I want to ensure that students are able to book meetings with me, and I want to do workshops so if students have questions, concerns or advocacy points that they want to do, they’re always brought up in discussion.”

He would also seek to establish working groups with representatives from marginalized communities to ensure he follows “advocacy points that students actually want.”

Cabangon was previously associated with the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity chapter at UBC, along with Shaoib. Cabangon is no longer an active member.

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