Emails reveal tension between UBC and ‘rogue’ former AMS VP Academic before resignation

Emails obtained by The Ubyssey between high-ranking UBC and AMS officials detail what appears to be a fraught relationship between former AMS VP Academic and University Affairs Daniel Lam and the university that he was supposed to lobby, prior to his resignation.

Lam resigned on July 19, 2017 for “personal reasons.”

On July 6, Student Housing and Hospitality Services Managing Director Andrew Parr emailed four UBC public relations staff members about a Ubyssey article in which Lam — a “rather rogue AMS representative,” according to Parr — claimed UBC and the AMS were discussing options to privatize student housing.

Through UBC Public Affairs Director Susan Danard, UBC VP Students Louise Cowin emailed a statement to The Ubyssey the next day: “Let me be clear: UBC is not exploring the privatization or outsourcing of student housing.”

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News of Lam’s comments also reached UBC VP External Relations Philip Steenkamp and Board of Governors Secretary Reny Kahlon, but the documents do not show any further conversation from them on this topic.

Cowin, Lam, Parr and Public Affairs declined to comment. Steenkamp and Kahlon did not respond to interview requests by press time.

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AMS President Alan Ehrenholz said in an emailed statement that “no conversations regarding privatized student housing have taken place between UBC and the AMS. However, conversations have occurred around Government-Business Enterprises.”

In the two months between Lam’s resignation and Max Holmes’s by-election win to become the new VP Academic in September 2017, student senator Jakob Gattinger took over the role on an interim basis. In August, he emailed Cowin’s assistant to set up a meeting “to outline AMS priorities for the coming year and hopefully re-establish some of the working relationship that may have been compromised in recent times.”

The Ubyssey reached out to Gattinger for comment, but the AMS’s new communications policy requires any media request for councillors or constituency representatives to be approved by the president first. Ehrenholz said in an emailed response that both the AMS and Gattinger have agreed to decline the request.

Holmes deferred questions about Lam’s resignation to Ehrenholz, who refused to comment.

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