The AMS has released a draft of their three-year strategic plan which seeks to improve organizational weaknesses and strengthen their relationship with the UBC community. Students can submit their feedback on the plan online.
“This is the first time that we’re doing this kind of active engagement for a strategic plan and vision,” said AMS President Ava Nasiri. “This is the first step to having students actively participate in shaping what their AMS is doing for them.”
Unlike the UBC strategic plan, the AMS three-year strategic plan, or The Big Plan 2020, focuses strictly on how the annual student AMS fee is used as well as how effective the internal functioning of the AMS is.
The plan consists of four pillars — engagement, support, representation and internal enablers.
One of the draft plan’s main objectives is to broaden the AMS’s reach and awareness with the student body, as well as improve its relationships with its partners. This will not only be done by creating stronger relationships with campus partners, but also by making the Nest “a central Hub for students on campus.”
Changes to the Nest will be made based on what students want to see more of, and so the current strategic plan seeks student input and does not propose specific changes.
“If the strategic vision is to have students really embrace this building and really understand that it was built brick and mortar by students for students, then students should also be able to shape the future of the programming that happens in here,” said Nasiri.
Potential changes could range from creating nap rooms for students, to changing which tenants the AMS accepts into the space.
“We’re making a very active effort to reach out and see what students would like for the future of this building,” said Nasiri. “Are we on the right track with this idea or not? Are there more urgent needs that students want addressed?”
Relationships with constituencies
Under the objective of strengthening engagement, The Big Plan 2020 seeks to create and strengthen existing relationships with campus partners such as UBC Recreation and Intramurals, Varsity, UBC Student Housing Services, CiTR, the Greek system and so forth.
“Some things are never changing on this campus,” said Nasiri. “For example, a department or faculty hosting a graduating gala for their students, or the formals that are hosted by members of the Greek community.”
By establishing preferred partnerships with these types of venues, the AMS could drive up their business, as well as secure discounts for their groups.
The plan also seeks to increase students’ access and awareness of all services available on campus. Some of the ways in which the AMS intends on achieving this include increasing relevant marketing practices for students as well as creating a draft “how to get hired after graduation” handbook for students by 2020.
The AMS also intends on creating more transparency between their executive team and students in order to strengthen support.
“I think some things like doing a better job of consulting students by sending out monthly surveys and creating monthly video updates is something that you could [implement] by the end of May,” said Nasiri.
The organizational objective of improving representation within the AMS entails advocating for UBC students “in a deliberative and demonstrably democratic manner.”
This would include livestreaming AMS council meeting, ensuring governance reviews happen every six years and AMS Election and Referendum ballot voter turnout to a consistent 50 per cent by 2020.
This last point would be a steep increase from the 20.7 per cent turnout at this year’s election. With last year hitting a 12.5 per cent voter turnout and 12.9 per cent the year prior, a 50 per cent goal may be a difficult one to achieve. However, Nasiri stated that “[this plan is] not about what’s easy and what’s hard — it’s about what is effective and what is necessary.”
This aspect of the plan seeks to enhance the internal workings of the AMS in order to better address the needs of students.
“I’m really excited to see what happens with our Officers of Council structure that was implemented based on the governance review recommendations,” said Nasiri. “The further we go in the future iterations of the strategic plan, I hope [the AMS] will include more academically formalized representation and advocacy.”
Nasiri also stressed the AMS’s intention to strengthen relationships with undergraduate societies in order to enhance the university experience for all students.
“The vision here would be really strengthening our undergraduate societies so that whether you are a student studying film or electrical engineering, you feel entirely connected to your departmental club,” she said.
These clubs would then be able to represent student views at the undergraduate society council, where those needs are then relayed back to the AMS.
A self-sustaining AMS?
“One feature of the plan that I see as both the most abstract [and] the most sophisticated is the vision of making the AMS self-sustaining,” said Nasiri.
What would this look like? Students are required to pay annual fees to the AMS in order to fund their administrative costs, the AMS executive committee and student services which includes things such as Safewalk and Foodbank.
“What that means is that if we put in enough energy and dedication into the way that we invest, instead of asking to increase our $43 fee, [we would be able] to decrease it and eventually just completely get rid of it,” said Nasiri.
“That would be the vision.”
When can students start to see changes?
Changes implemented as a result of the strategic plan could possibly be seen by this August.
“It would be unfair of me to expect the incoming executive team to launch a bunch of projects in their first three weeks,” said Nasiri. “It’s very important for them to be able to settle in and come up with their priorities for the year.”
However, Nasiri noted that smaller changes such as creating monthly video updates for students could be in place by the end of May.
“The real deep change will come a few years down the line once those first steps have been built upon,” she said.