Candidate profile: Kamil Kanji, Board of Governors

Kamil Kanji is hoping to join the Board of Governors with a platform focused on increasing affordability, accessibility and support for international students.

His platform hopes to facilitate student affordability by reducing the financial burden of housing, tuition, food insecurity and childcare.

Kanji is the current AMS VP academic and university affairs (AUA). This past year he secured $450,000 for the AMS Food Bank and $500,000 for the AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan from UBC.

The half million dollar contribution allowed mental health coverage to return from 80 per cent coverage to 100 per cent coverage per session after it was initially slashed due to budgetary concerns.

Kanji credited his strong working relationship with UBC administrators for its success.

To increase affordable housing for students, Kanji wants to increase funding options for new student housing projects, which is currently financed through the Student Housing Financing Endowment.

Kanji proposed looking towards the provincial and federal governments as potential funding sources. In 2024, the province announced BC Builds and the federal government increased the scope of the Apartment Construction Loan Program to now include student housing.

“There's a lot of revenue sources that are available, but being on the Board will allow [me] to provide direction to various university executives to make sure that happens,” he said.

He hopes to bring his skills as an advocate and his track record of results to the Board to continue to deliver results to students.

“If you really, really want to make a difference in the lives of students and do it in ways that are long lasting and impactful and tangible, the Board is one of the best places to do that,” said Kanji.

This year, the Board faced criticism for not responding to student groups' calls to endorse the Boycott, Divest, Sanction movement. Kanji called the lack of communication “unacceptable.”

“This year, I've continued after calls from student groups to engage in some of those conversations around divestment with the Board Chair,” said Kanji. He added that he made it to the Board chair “that this is a major priority for a number of student groups.”

In 2022, Kanji supported a student-led divestment motion through which the AMS urged the university to divest its endowment from the nine companies involved in Israel.

As VPAUA, Kanji also opposed tuition increases and said he would continue to do so as student governor. He would meet individually with governors to share “strong affordability arguments” and support the “development of a multi-year tuition framework.”

He is also keen on ensuring student’s voices are represented in upcoming policy reviews, specifically in discussions on the Disability Accommodation Policy (LR7) and the Financial Aid Policy (LR10).

Kanji hopes to see the “eligibility of needs based aid to include international students” and create new channels to financially support the university’s continuing international students.

He also wants to advocate for the removal of the proof of diagnosis requirement “to support and provide room for accommodating temporary disabilities.”

Kanji is running against incumbent Eshana Bhangu and newcomers Jasper Lorien, Ferdinand Rother, Siddharth Rout, Leonard Wang and Enav Zusman.

This article is part of our 2024 AMS Elections coverage. Follow us at @UbysseyNews on X (formerly Twitter) and follow our election coverage starting February 27.