Third-year student Tate Kaufman is running to be a senator-at-large on a platform of prioritizing student academics and freedom of choice.
Currently serving as vice-president of Students for Freedom of Expression (SFE), Kaufman said he will advocate for “lessening the impacts that Senate regulations have on students,” particularly on those who are unvaccinated or choose not to disclose their vaccination status.
SFE faced criticism last fall for inviting far-right pundit Lauren Southern to discuss the discovery of unmarked graves at former residential schools. Southern has denied the existence of genocide at residential schools.
Kaufman said he disagrees with the policy calling for deregistration of students who do not comply with the UBC COVID-19 safety rules and vaccination policy.
“I don’t view anything that encourages the deregistration of students as a ‘great success,’” he said. The university discontinued its rapid testing program and vaccine declaration policy on March 1, making this program defunct.
In a follow-up message to The Ubyssey, Kaufman said he would shift his focus to making classes fully in-person and advocating to remove all COVID-19 measures by fall.
Kaufman also highlighted the financial impact that students, particularly international students, faced during the pandemic.
He said he would ensure that international students would not have extra financial burdens placed upon them. He did not specify how this would be accomplished. The Senate does not control the university’s finances.
On student engagement, Kaufman said there should be sessions where students can go and speak with student senators one-on-one.
He also suggested the implementation of a more focused, fact-based social media platform for increased student reach, citing his concerns with the current AMS Instagram page having “trivial” posts and pushing members’ “personal political advocacies.”
Kaufman said that the low voter turnout of AMS elections in the past few years shows that students are not accurately represented by student senators. His ultimate goal as a student senator is to represent “the genuine will of students.”
“[My platform] will give a voice to students who don't typically see any candidates running with ideas that represent their own.”
Kaufman said one thing that motivated him to run for Senate this term is representing “the reality of what the valuable academic pursuit is.”
For example, he argued that in-person examinations are necessary for subjects that are objectively measured.
When asked how he would respond to students’ health concerns in regard to in-person exams, Kaufman said that there has to be a distinction between those with documented, serious illnesses and those that are “paranoid or hypochondriac.” For the former, he would advocate for alternative accommodations, such as setting up separate classrooms that are distanced and at lower capacity.
For the rest of the student body, however, Kaufman emphasized that UBC is an in-person school, and if students are uncomfortable with in-person exams, they may want to “move to something that better fits with what [they] want,” such as online-only schools.
Kaufman is also running for AMS president and the Board of Governors.