AMS VP External Cristina Ilnitchi has had a jam-packed first term, but is full steam ahead to continue her lobbying efforts for key student issues.
While Ilnitchi has kept busy with the 2019 federal election and provincial government advocacy, some of her other campaign promises have yet to hit full stride.
When campaigning for re-election in March, Ilnitchi anticipated the biggest challenge of 2019 to be the federal election. Ilnitchi has since capitalized on the opportunity to engage students in politics and present their asks to the federal government.
She described her advocacy for the election as two-pronged. The first was to mobilize student voices to encourage a high voter turnout and strong student engagement across campus.
“I think one of the best parts of this federal election was that we saw that students were engaged,” she said, adding that the special advance-voting booths in the Nest made voting more accessible for students.
The second part of Ilnitchi’s advocacy was the government side. In collaboration with other student unions, Ilnitchi wrote a National Student Letter to the government, presenting key student demands.
“We had the opportunity not to just make asks along the way, but actually use the power of students and youth voices to set the direction of government ...” she said. “And that’s a really special opportunity.”
Moving forward, Ilnitchi said that her office will also engage in follow-up advocacy with the current government to ensure they implement their campaign promises for student wellbeing.
During this year’s election period, Ilnitchi identified affordability, sexual violence on campus and climate advocacy as pivotal issues at the provincial level.
Ilnitchi said that this term, rather than proposing new ideas to the government, the VP External team focused on initiatives from last year that were already in the works.
“Now it's a follow up,” she said. “Now it's, ‘How do we influence the process and make sure that students voices and needs are considered and at the forefront of these decisions that are being made along the way?’”
Ilnitchi said they were advocating for the creation of an upfront needs-based grants system, supporting international students through an international student strategy and representing student voices in the provincial government’s anti-sexual violence work.
Her team just came back from a provincial lobby trip in October, where they were able to collaborate with other student unions in BC to unify student voices.
She also mentioned that she is working on longer-term advocacy on issues like climate action and Indigenous student advocacy.
While campaigning in March for her incumbent position, Ilnitchi mentioned that one of her goals for the 2019-20 year was to secure the SkyTrain to UBC and make it a priority.
Having been occupied with the federal election for the first semester, Ilnitchi said most of her SkyTrain advocacy with TransLink will start next term. But her team has been able to reach the final stages of re-signing last year’s U-Pass contract.
She also mentioned that she has been consulting on the Regional Transportation Strategy, also known as TransLink 2050.