We fact-checked everything your VP Academic candidates said

AMS candidates talk a lot. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell if they’re telling the truth.

With that in mind, The Ubyssey is fact-checking every candidate’s platform and all the statements they made during debate. We think it’s important for students to know when candidates are telling the truth, whether they’re being misleading and where they’re getting their numbers.

Here are our fact-checks for your candidates for Vice-President Academic and University Affairs.

The platforms:

Julia Burnham: “As the current Campaigns and Outreach Commissioner, I’ve run our #TextbookBroke campaign, coordinated policy consultations and have been grateful to support the growth of the AMS Indigenous Committee.”

True. The Campaigns and Outreach Commissioner “help[s] organize and direct special events, consultations, campaigns, and long term projects such as the Textbook Broke campaign, a communications plan for the Academic Experience Survey, student engagement campaigns surrounding university issues, and others,” according to the job position.

Julia Burnham: “The AMS/GSS Health & Dental Plan currently offers students $300/year in coverage for services rendered by psychologists, registered counsellors and other mental health professionals.”

True. The AMS Council approved a bump to $500 at its February 27 meeting, but that’s still awaiting approval from the Graduate Student Society

Julia Burnham “UBC created the Sustainable Futures Fund in response [to 76.9 per cent of students voted to support divestment at UBC], but its investments have been insignificant.”

True. After students voted in favour of divestment, UBC created the Sustainable futures fund, which allocates $10 million to invest in low-carbon emission and high ESG (environmental, social and governance) companies. According to the Sustainable Future Pool spend rate report, this is a little bit below one per cent of UBC’s total endowment.

Vandita Kumar: “Our campus boasts a staggering 60,000 students.”

False. According to recent enrolment statistics, 56,436 students were enrolled at UBC Vancouver this year. Kumar could have been rounding up, but the number isn’t precise.

The first debate

Julia Burnham: “I believe the number was somewhere around 50 per cent of students [responding to the Academic Experience Survey] felt that sexual misconduct was a really big issue.”

True. According to the 2018 AMS Academic Experience Survey, 57 per cent of UBC undergraduate students consider the prevalence of sexual assault and other sexual misconduct at UBC to be a serious issue.

Nick Pang: “Only 22 per cent of students think UBC cares about their voice.”

Misleading. The Academic Experience Survey 2018-19 Report states that “...only 22% of students agreeing that the University cares about what they think about the cost of education.” That’s not the same as not caring about students’ voices.

The Great Debate

Nick Pang: “We [the AMS] neglected to consult correctly with the Engineering Undergraduate Society, we didn’t get an idea that was approved by all student leaders on campus.”

True. The EUS released a statement that they didn’t feel they were consulted correctly on the matter of fall reading break. They said they felt the VP Academic office didn’t acknowledge issues of bias in the consultations, issues with data presented in the survey and the length of the consultation compared to other consultations.

Burnham: “Recently we just secured $10,000 from Santa Ono towards the food bank.”

True. The President’s Office committed to contributing $10,000 per year for five years to the service’s food purchasing budget, which will go towards increasing the current stock and buying goods that fit different dietary restrictions.

Burnham: “The AMS is mandated to advocate for lower tuition.”

True, although they haven't always been doing it.

Do you have thoughts on this year’s election cycle? Reach out to opinions editor Tristan Wheeler at opinion@ubyssey.ca to have your voice heard.

Want to read more coverage? Look for debate recaps, profiles, analysis and more in our new AMS Elections section.