Midterm review: VP AUA Georgia Yee tackles vast platform with early housing advocacy and Proctorio successes

After every candidate dropped out of the VP academic and university affairs race in the 2020 AMS general elections, Georgia Yee won in a special election a month later.

Yee ran on a platform rooted in overcoming the social and economic issues that students face. Halfway into her term, Yee has been working on advocating for students in pandemic response and recovery while making slower progress on backburner goals of addressing anti-racism and sexual assault prevention.

Yee has a lot on her plate, but she’s prioritizing based on urgency in terms of the pandemic as well as how her team can gather momentum on other advocacy points.

“It’s notable that a lot of my other goals regarding accessibility, affordability, mental health and the climate emergency, these are all in tandem with each other,” she said. “We need to be approaching the COVID response from an intersectional perspective.”

At the beginning of her term, Yee administered the AMS COVID-19 survey, which received around 7,000 responses from students. A report outlining the results and explaining the planned response by the AMS was released in late September.

Using the results, Yee focused on the difficulties students face due to time zone differences, lack of access to technology, as well as academic freedom for students who are in a country where they might be prosecuted for the subject matter they’re studying. She’s working with the UBC ombudsperson for fairer conditions for international students.

In addition, Yee fought to change a clause in the student housing contract that made it unclear whether students would have housing in case of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Yee had expressed concerns around the original clause but said the amendment still didn’t do enough to protect student renters’ rights. She called it an “incremental step away from the overt hostility,” and said student housing could provide students with more resources in the case that they need to relocate.

Yee has been vocal about issues surrounding UBC’s relationship with Proctorio and is advocating that UBC take students’ concerns about the software seriously — and terminate its contract with Proctorio.

Term two will consist of a further focus around the challenges of online learning.

“[Online learning] really is like the wild, wild west for students, faculty, staff … we are continually just patching up holes in a sinking boat it seems like and trying to keep afloat,” she said.

Yee wants to focus more on her equity and diversity commitments.

So far, she’s launched an anti-racism campaign and workshops focusing on bystander intervention, and the AMS is exploring options to have more equity training available for students.

As for UBC’s revised Sexual Misconduct Policy SC17, Yee was vocal about the gaps remaining in the policy and had said she wants to ensure that the Sexual Assault Support Centre has a seat on the plan’s implementation committee.

Although the committee was supposed to start having meetings at the end of this year, it’s still being formed.

“It’s definitely on track for the development. We already have some of the groundwork to move forward,” Yee added.

Yee hopes to make more meaningful connections with Indigenous groups on campus and create culturally appropriate mental health resources for BIPOC, 2SLGBTQIA+ and international students.

“At the end of my term, I want to be able to lay the groundwork for the barriers associated with getting up and running on some of these issues of accessibility, diversity, inclusion. And in the middle of the pandemic, those structures are already set up in place. They just need to be put into motion,” Yee said.