The Inter-Fraternity Council (IFC) will not be publicly endorsing specific candidates running in the AMS elections this year, breaking a longstanding tradition.
But they have arranged meetings with candidates and shared information about them internally to their members.
“We pretty much determined that it shouldn’t be the IFC’s place to take a political stance or an endorsement and make a decision on behalf of all of our member fraternities,” said Adan Moallemi, the newly-elected IFC president.
Moallemi’s executive voted on this decision a few weeks ago after he took over from Jamie Gill, the previous president.
“While we are not issuing any endorsements this year, the IFC remains committed to promoting civic and political engagement with student government and student politics, so we are reaching out to candidates to provide them all with an opportunity to speak to a constituency which represents over 1000 students on campus,” reads an email that the IFC sent to one candidate.
According to Moallemi and verified by multiple candidates who were present at the meetings, each student government hopeful had five minutes to present their platform to the IFC executives.
“Nothing in our bylaws, in our constitution, stipulates that we’re supposed to make decisions concerning student politics on behalf of our member constituents,” said IFC First Vice-President Adam Dobrer, who was in charge of coordinating the candidates’ visits.
Moallemi does not attribute the decision to the controversy the executive body got into this time last year, which resulted in six out of the eight candidates chosen by the IFC rejecting their endorsements.
After Max Holmes posted a public letter announcing he was rejecting his endorsement for VP Academic, the IFC — under then-president Jeriah Newman’s tenure — received backlash over questions they asked Holmes about his platform points on sexual violence, namely on accommodations for perpetrators and the use of the term “survivor.”
The IFC said the questions and comments were misinterpreted by Holmes, but Newman later resigned and apologized.
According to candidates, there was no question period this year.
Moallemi insists the decision was made solely because the incoming IFC executive strongly believes in staying nonpartisan.
“In my mind the IFC shouldn’t be used as a political liaison with the AMS because we should be more focussed on our chapters and how to better educate our membership,” he said.
But he did note that last year’s debacle helped prompt the IFC’s ongoing examination of the role they play in dismantling the culture of sexual misconduct, such as making yearly consent workshops mandatory for their membership.
“Through working with partners like SASC and SVPRO, we definitely hope to continue to try to change the culture on campus. … And we believe that as members of the Greek system, we have a responsibility, just as everybody else on campus, to make our community better,” said Moallemi. “With what happened last year, every single day as an organization we try to better ourselves.”
“I think that consistently over time everyone that’s within that community has shown that it is a community of a wide array of values and opinions,” said Holmes, who was re-elected as VP Academic. He is currently running for a senator-at-large position and one of two Vancouver student seats on the UBC Board of Governors.
Historically, the Greek vote — which includes over 2,000 UBC students — has had the potential to have significant sway over which candidates obtain office, especially if those candidates have Greek affiliations.
But Holmes notes that as the overall voting turnout has climbed from about 12 to about 20 per cent in the last few years, the Greek population has a smaller influence over the winners — so the potential effect of this end to endorsements may not be as big as students might think.
“Ultimately the ballot box is secret, and people will come to the conclusions of who they think the best candidates are,” said Holmes.