Midterm Review: President Chris Hakim lays the foundation for a student-driven AMS

Chris Hakim hasn’t stopped talking about student consultation since he began campaigning for AMS president last spring.

Eight months into his term, it appears that wasn't just talk.

Hakim and his team have placed a serious emphasis on student consultation since he took office in May. After the Sexual Assault Support Centre (SASC) scandal during his year as VP Administration, when the centre was suddenly defunded, it seems that Hakim has learned that making big changes without adequate consultation doesn’t turn out well for anybody.

Improving support for survivors of sexualized violence

Hakim campaigned on the platform of improving sexual assault support, affordability, Indigenous inclusion, sustainability and increased student consultation throughout all aspects of his work. As of December 2019, he has made considerable progress on those main goals, with more to come in the next term.

The final draft of the AMS Sexual Violence Prevention and Respectful Community and Workplace Policy (SVPREP) went into effect on September 23.

“What these policies mean is that they set the groundwork for a clear and trauma-informed process that will ensure the fairness and confidentiality for survivors and involved parties,” Hakim said.

Hakim said that the AMS also has a “seat at the table” for the Policy 131 Review Committee, and he said they have held constant conversations with SASC about what they should be pushing for.

Focusing on affordability

In order to improve student affordability, Hakim said his team has completed drafts of various code changes in order to potentially lower AMS fees and make sure that student money is not being misused.

“We have an issue where sometimes we'll establish a fee of a fund one year and never take a second look at it some years down the line,” Hakim said. “I think it's important for us to be constantly taking a look at those fees because they are a cost to students … and we want to understand [if] these fees are still matching the needs of students.”

Hakim is also working closely with the Indigenous committee on formulating an Indigenous seat on AMS council, following the AMS’s lack of effort on reconciliation last year.

The timeline for when this new seat will be created isn’t clear.

“We want to ensure that [the Indigenous committee is] in the driving seat. So if they want this process to go through a referendum, we will have that referendum later in February and March. If they want something different, maybe a non voting seat or some other model, we can expect to see something possibly sooner,” Hakim said.

Sustainability goals

Sustainability has consisted of supporting the work of student climate activist group UBCC350, meeting with UBC administrators to push divestment and looking internally to make improvements.

“[We’re] taking a look at how we can promote not only just our own backend sustainability initiatives, but trying to promote that our students who are accessing our businesses as well are also taking part in the sustainability initiatives,” Hakim said.

The overarching goal of student consultation has made its way into the AMS Strategic Plan, which Hakim unveiled at a council meeting in September.

The plan spells out the student vision for the AMS over the next five years.

“Things such as performance evaluations, project evaluations, measures of success — these are all going to be tied to the aim of the Strategic Plan,” Hakim said. “Throughout this process we have and will continue to ensure that student voices are very much pushing this project forward.”