Great Debate recap: Board of Governors

The Board of Governors debate tonight involved more challenging questions than previously asked to incumbent Veronica Knott, Aaron Bailey and Reda El Maazi.

Opening statements featured El Maazi emphasizing his success in UBC E-Projects, his interactions with Google, involvement in residences at UBC and passion to be a student voice as qualifications that would make him a good elected student representative. Both Bailey and Knott said that it had been a difficult decision to make on whether to run or not, but both had decided they had unparalleled skills to offer as student reps. Bailey hopes to be a loud voice pushing for change and Knott believes her past experience will make her an even better board rep second time around.

Moderator Gordon Katic pressed El Maazi on the lack of knowledge he displayed last debate, specifically pertaining to the committee system of the board. El Maazi responded that having worked with companies like Apple — who, according to him, don’t use committees at all— he did not think they were necessary, believing instead that the board needs to have some unification. Knott rebutted by pointing out that UBC is an academic institution, not a corporation, and committees allow the board to make informed decisions for students. 

Katic then asked Bailey what he’d learned which would be helpful as a board member next year. Bailey’s response was to admit when one was wrong and make changes.

The most politically interesting part of the night was when Katic pushed Knott on her record as board member in the past year. He began by pointing to a UBC Insiders discovery about a legal briefing that took place during a board meeting, which Knott and the other student reps first refused to comment on, asking Knott why she did not take the opportunity to be transparent.

Knott pointed out that as a board member, one has a commitment first to the board and then as soon as she knew she could comment, she spoke on the meeting to The Ubyssey.

Katic then moved on to the non-disclosure agreement, stating that it didn’t stop Knott from criticizing the board. She responded that Katic was assuming she disagreed with the board’s actions over Gupta, but as she and the other elected board members wrote in a statement earlier this term, she had agreed with the departure. Katic asked if speaking was enough or if she thought she should be doing more to mobilize students. Knott said that if she criticized blindly, then she would have to be elected on personal values rather than her ability to amplify student voices to board level, which is what she said that she currently does and will do so if elected for a second term.

At this point, Bailey jumped in to say that much more than just speaking and voting in the board room had occurred — students had engaged in the back rooms to make tuition increases lessen.

When asked about what they would do to promote transparency, El Maazi said he would Facebook livestream all sessions of board, both closed and open.

Another notable event of the night was when El Maazi brought up a moment from last debate when Knott said that office hours didn’t work because students didn’t come to them. El Maazi pointed out that students came to the office hours of professors who were interesting, such as Gateman.