Fact-checking the 2017 Great Debate

It's finally over. All three AMS debates have been completed. Not sure exactly how believable everything the candidates said during Friday’s Great Debate was? Here’s a rundown.

VP External

Sally Lin said the 99 B-Line has seen a 15 per cent ridership increase in the “past little while.”

False. The 99 B-Line has seen a 23 per cent increase in average weekday ridership over the past decade, with it going from 45,000 in 2007 to 55,500 in 2015. Lin clarified after the debate that she meant to say the 96 B-Line had a 15 per cent increase. That's true — a 2015 TransLink report says that a double-digit increase is to be expected in the first few years of service of a new line (the 96 was introduced in 2013).

Lin said the Broadway subway line extension to UBC would cost $3 billion as an underground subway.

True, according to a 2012 study co-sponsored by TransLink and the BC government. Page 11 says, “Of the alternatives that meet the forecast demand for the [Broadway] corridor, capital costs range from $1.1 billion for LRT1 (light rail transit) to $3.0 billion for RRT (rapid rail transit). An assessment of affordability will be made outside this study by considering regional investment needs relative to available funding.”

Dario Garousian said the mayor’s council isn’t considering the Broadway extension to UBC because of the lack of density from Arbutus to UBC.

True, according to the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation. Page 10 talks about rapid transit, along with an accompanying diagram that illustrates that rapid transit will be implemented in the highest density areas.

“Additionally, as rapid transit is implemented on the Broadway corridor, upgrades to existing B-Line service will be pursued on segments not included in the first phase of rapid transit expansion (e.g. Arbutus Street to UBC),” it reads.

Lin said Canada imports 81 per cent of its books (in terms of title count).

True. According to a 2012 federal government report, in a sample of 5,000 titles, “the breakdown by title count [is] 81 per cent imported, five per cent Canadian editions and 14 per cent original Canadian titles.”

VP Academic

Daniel Lam said that 143 classes at UBC currently use open educational resources.

According to a report published in November 2016, “since 2011, at least 59 UBC courses have used open textbooks, OERs or freely accessible resources instead of traditional textbooks. And if we look across those past five years, 16,450 UBC students have enrolled in courses using open textbooks.

VP Administration

Julien Hart said the AMS is currently working on finalizing their LEED Platinum certification for the Nest

True. Current VP Administration Chris Scott said that the AMS is waiting to confirm one more point on their LEED application — a shower for cyclists in the Old SUB.

Current VP Academic Samantha So asked candidates to name three resource groups. Hart said that he couldn’t name any. Pooja Bhatti asked if So meant groups like Speakeasy and SASC. Faraz Nikzad asked if Catering was a resource group. So said, “No, the resource groups are the ones in that corner over there,” and gestured generally to where the resource group offices in the Nest were. Nikzad then guessed that AMS Tutoring was a resource group.

The AMS resource groups are Colour Connected, Pride, the Social Justice Centre, the Student Environment Centre and the Women’s Centre.


James Cohen said that current AMS president Ava Nasiri and former president Aaron Bailey have taken on “somewhat of a mentorship role” for him.

Nasiri sent a message to The Ubyssey clarifying that she has not taken on any mentorship roles for any presidential candidates.

Alan Ehrenholz said that UBC’s draft sexual assault policy allows 60 days for the final report of a reported incident to be completed.

True, except in “exceptional circumstances.”

Hooton said that according to UBC’s draft sexual assault policy, students sexually assaulted by a faculty member would have to report it to the head of that administrative unit.

True. Under the policy’s section 4.2.2, it’s stated that “if the person against whom the allegation is being made is a faculty or staff member, the sexual assault is reported to that faculty or staff member’s administrative head of unit for investigation.” 

Brewer said that UBC doesn’t currently offer any courses that discuss the “history of the people of this land,” referring to Indigenous peoples.

False. The UBC First Nations and Indigenous studies program currently offers 14 courses that address a variety of facets of Indigenous issues specific to Canada. There are also courses taught within multiple faculties — including commerce, anthropology, applied science and land and food systems — which include Indigenous perspectives and content.


Kevin Doering said that the faculty of arts did a review that disagreed with a recommendation to implement a mandatory Indigenous course.

True (see recommendation seven).

William Chen said that the Student Senate caucus hasn’t posted its minutes since 2015.

True. The caucus's last meeting minutes posted online are from March 2015. Regular Senate minutes are posted up to January 2017.

Simran Brar said that Flexible Learning Committee minutes are not publicly available.


—With files from Julia Burnham, Moira Wyton, Alex Nguyen, Olamide Olaniyan and Sruthi Tadepalli