AMS Elections 2023//

Debate #1, fact-checked: Breaking down your 2023 AMS Elections candidates claims

Candidates say a lot of things during debates — numbers, figures, claims and more.
Candidates say a lot of things during debates — numbers, figures, claims and more. Isabella Falsetti / The Ubyssey

Candidates say a lot of things during debates — numbers, figures, claims and more.

It can be hard to hear or understand everything that was said, but that's why we at The Ubyssey have a team dedicated to fact-checking all the big claims candidates make during debates.

Here we're covering the first debate on February 28 where the candidates for VP academic and university affairs (VPAUA), VP administration and president all debated each other.

We didn't cover everything, but hopefully this gives you a clearer idea on what was discussed — and how much of it was true.

Kamil Kanji is running uncontested for VPAUA

Kanji: “In the last 10 years, we've had about 5,000 new beds that have been added to the UBC campus and what is being proposed in Campus Vision [2050] is nowhere near that.”

True. Between 2010 and 2022, UBC added nearly 5,000 new student housing beds. The current draft of Campus Vision 2050 proposes adding 3,300 new beds and an additional 370 student family housing units by the mid-2030s.

Kanji: “I believe there are over 7,000 new units being made for faculty over the course of the Campus Vision [2050] processes.”

Half true. Campus Vision 2050 proposes creating 7,100 new units of neighbourhood housing. This housing isn’t solely for UBC faculty members, and eligibility is up to the discretion of the developer.

Kanji: “With my time on [AMS] Council, I was the person who spearheaded the efforts and motivated the motion within the council chambers to ensure that we got in place what was necessary in the divestment efforts from organizations that are committing human rights violations in relation to Israeli apartheid.”

Almost true. Kanji did move the motion to get the AMS to urge UBC and the Board of Governors to divest from nine companies complicit in Palestinian human rights violations. But the motion proposed by a coalition of 20 student groups including Students for Palestinian Human Rights, Social Justice Centre and Independent Jewish Voices.

Anuoluwapo Awotunde, Ian Caguiat, Anvi Kumar, Chayan Lu and Jake Sawatzky are running for VP admin. Kumar did not attend the first debate.

Sawatzky: I would have loved to see some live music at Clubs Fair, maybe some food vendors.”

False. According to current VP Administration Ben Du, Clubs fair hosted live music from 19 student artists and 6 specialty food trucks.

Caguiat: “There has been no promotion this year on any of our social media about AMS CampusBase.”

Unclear. CampusBase has been mentioned on AMS social media channels, like Instagram. However, Caguiat is correct that there has been no dedicated CampusBase promotion on social media.

Sawatzky: “Currently, the financial system does not officially do e-Transfers, and there's a lot of musicians and artists that really rely on this source of payment.”

Hard to verify. Club treasurers can choose to be reimbursed by e-Transfer, cash, cheque or EFT. Sawatzky, a coordinator with AMS Events, claimed that musicians that performed during AMS Events were steered away from using e-Transfers in preference of other methods, though this process is not public. The general invoice requisition form lists only cheque, EFT and wire transfers as options.

Caguiat: “[In regards to study space],the AMS also manages the basement of the Life Building, and [it] still has some space in there, so we just need to put [in] some chairs and tables.”

Unclear. The AMS does manage the basement of the Life building. However, the arrival of the lending library removed around eight seats in the Life building corridor. Additional seats and furniture will need to adhere to provincial fire regulations.

Sawatzky: “I also think since David Suzuki played such a big role in the creation of The Pit, it [should be] renamed officially.”

True. Suzuki advocated for a campus pub in a 1968 opinion piece for UBC Reports, titled “What This Campus Needs Is A Pub.”

Caguiat: “Did you guys know that we also have prayer spaces in the Nest, and no one knows about them?”

Almost true. There is a multifaith prayer room in the UBC Life Building, as well as additional rooms in the Wesbrook Building, West Mall Swing Space, and Marine Drive Residence. The rooms are operated by UBC, not the AMS. There were prayer rooms in the Nest last year, but these moved to the Life Building.

ChatGPT, Ben Du and Remy the Rat/Esmé Decker are running for president. ChatGPT did not attend the first debate.

Remy/Decker: “The [AMS] Housing service is being cut this year, or is in the process of that.”

True. In January, AMS Council voted to discontinue the housing service since students’ concerns are often outside the scope of the service’s capabilities, according to Senior Student Services Manager Kathleen Simpson. The service will now function as a part of AMS Advocacy.

Du: “We know that over 90 per cent of students vote ‘no’ on tuition fee increases.”

True. Ninety-two per cent of students said they opposed the proposed tuition in the 2022 tuition engagement survey.

Du: “The planning of the Strategic Plan will end at the end of this academic year.”

Unclear. Numerous AMS presidents have promised to deliver a strategic plan and not done so, including Bhangu’s predecessor. According to November 2022 Ubyssey coverage, Bhangu has yet to finalize the plan. The plan has yet to appear in AMS Council agendas or presidential remarks submitted to Council this calendar year.

Du: “[Advocating for food security] is an opportunity where student voices can be consolidated into one massive effort. We've seen it work in the past with increased funding for food security initiatives for programs like [UBC] Meal Share and wonderful initiatives like Sprouts and for the [AMS] Food Bank, as well.”

True. In October 2022, students, led by Sprouts, rallied to protest rising food insecurity, reduced funding and a perceived lack of support from the university.

Remy/Decker: “So far, what we've seen is one-time funding from UBC to address [food insecurity] issues that people want addressed, but we're really asking for long-term funding because it's a long-term problem.”

True. UBC instituted $1.91 million of one-time food security funding for the 2021/22 fiscal year. It also pledged $500,000 in the form of a one-time grant to support food security initiatives at both UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan.

Remy/Decker: “[Du] voted ‘no’ on combining the referenda [item regarding gender-affirming health care].”

True. In a March 1 statement to The Ubyssey, Du said he voted to keep the referendum items separate. As a whole, Council voted 16–4 against combining the referendum items. Official voting records are not yet public. Du has said he will vote ‘yes’ on both referenda.

Follow us at @UbysseyNews on Twitter and follow our election coverage starting February 27. This article is part of our 2023 AMS Elections coverage.