Debate brings up question of audits, relevancy for Student Legal Fund Society

Two student slates are running against each other for control of the Student Legal Fund Society next year.

On March 5, the Students for Accountability Slate and the Students for Responsible Leadership Slate debated which team would be more effective at running the SLFS.

The SLFS, which collects a $1 fee from every student, is meant to provide legal assistance to students who require it. Still, most students do not know that the society exists.

The central issue of the debate revolved around improving the recognition and accessibility of the SLFS for UBC students. Since its establishment in 1998, the SLFS has largely had a reputation for being ineffective in adequately fulfilling intended services to UBC students in need of legal assistance.

Janzen Lee from the Students for Responsible Leaderships Slate and the only incumbent SLFS member, was the most active speaker among all candidates on his slate. Having served during the past year on the SLFS, he acknowledged that the incumbent SLFS slate has flaws, but maintained that the committee actually did tangible work.

“We have our website,” said Lee. “[You can access it] if you have a case that you believe affects a wide array of students."

Still, Lee also said that it is students' job to seek the services of the SLFS themselves. Last year, they dealt with a total of two cases.

"Because it was not up to us to go and find real cases that we can work with, it was up to students to fill out an application, which you can then take to the litigation committee," said Lee.

Students for Accountability, the rival slate, did not find his argument to be overly compelling.

“The SLFS does not release any regular audits, and nor do they release any information in order for the organization to effectively spend its money,” said Tanner Bokor, current AMS president and candidate for the Students for Accountability slate.

Bokor challenged Lee that it must be mandatory for the SLFS to provide audits for legal cases back to the institution. If elected for the SLFS, Bokor’s slate promised to make the release of public audits a regulation.

In addition to the history of how the SLFS has been handling its services to students, contention also emerged between the slates in terms of how the background and experiences of their respective candidates would be of benefit to the SLFS.

The Students for Accountability slate consists of candidates who have all been involved with the AMS. According to Jude Krasta, his fellow candidates have the necessary experience given that they are all familiar with the operations of the society.

No candidate from the Students for Responsible Leadership slate has had any prior affiliation with the AMS. Still, candidate Nathan Ho maintained that the non-AMS credentials of his slate’s members actually place his slate at an advantage.

The two slates will debate again on March 10.