Presidential candidates discuss differing platforms, butt heads slightly at Great Debate

The candidates for AMS president met for a final showdown at the Great Debate on March 10.

Cheneil Antony-Hale, Aaron Bailey and V each gave opening statements one last time before moving on to the question period of the debate.

Much of the discussion at the debate paralleled topics that had been brought up at the first debate, such as the relationship that the candidates would build with current UBC President Arvind Gupta, preferred leadership styles and the balance that the AMS president would need to strike between their own projects and those of the rest of the executive board.

Antony-Hale, who hopes to push forth projects such as increased sexual assault training for residence advisors, an increased student presence on the Board of Governors and more legal protection for students living in residence, said that the AMS needs to take a stronger stand against the university's prioritizing research over student experiences by increasing tuition and residence fees.

"We need to tell Gupta 'this is not right, we cannot afford these increases and we need you to prioritize our experiences'," said Antony-Hale.

Aaron Bailey, who has been involved with the AMS for the last four years and hopes to bring a hands-own, student centred approach to the society, spoke about

“I need to adjust my leadership style to the workings of my team if I want us to be able to effectively collaborate on goals and ensure that we work towards a collective vision," said Bailey.

Joke candidate V did not let go of his vision of a campus devoid of students and repurposed to stage a massive Hunger Games fight to divide the best places in the new SUB.

“There's no point in the AMS existing. Anarchy should completely take over. All students should be fighting themselves, so that any students who might want their own Sriracha sauce can get their own Sriracha sauce or any students who may want a pillar with the Nest can fight for it," said V. "Behind this mask is not a person, it’s an idea."

Both Antony-Hale and Bailey brought up the need to incorporate regular meetings with the Musqueam community on campus and incorporate a voting seat for an Aboriginal representative on the AMS Council.

Antony-Hale later called Bailey out on focusing too much on student life rather than more serious problems on campus in his campaign.

"The problem is that none of your campaign points really address key issues on campus," said Antony-Hale. "I'm all for fun [...]. But there are so many barriers which prevent students from actually having fun. There's housing, there's tuition, there's debt, there's sexual assault, there's a mental health crisis, there's the lack of diversity on student government."

Bailey replied that while Antony-Hale's platform was admirable, it was unrealistic given the specific responsibilities of the presidential role.

"I don't want to attack your platform -- I think your platform is well laid out for those issues. I just do believe that for the scope of one year and within the purview of what the president can do, I don't believe that it's possible to cover these things by yourself as one individual instead of working on these issues as a collaborate team."

While Antony-Hale and Bailey agreed that the AMS should collaborate with the Graduate Student Society on campus, V said that, like the AMS, it would need to be dissolved as well.

"Once the AMS is dissolved, you will essentially be the only legally-incorporated student society and so the biggest suggestion would be to really ask you to follow suit and dissolve the GSS as well," said V.

When an audience member asked how the candidates would choose to focus on equity on campus, Bailey responded that he would support the efforts of VP academic, whose portfolio focuses on it, while Antony-Hale said that equity would be one of her primary driving forces during her presidency.

"I think that we really do need to start addressing these issues which prevent students from actually acquiring these leadership positions because they're systemic," said Antony-Hale. "It's not because there's something wrong with them, it's because there's something wrong with the system and I think it's the job of the AMS to address these issues."

After an audience member brought up Bailey's comments on preferring not to focus his efforts on expanding sexual assault training for residence advisors at the last debate, Bailey clarified that he never said that current sexual assault training should be decreased or taken lightly but rather believes that work needs to be done around increasing training for members who do not currently receive it, such as the members of the Residence Hall Association and residence house council members, and increasing education on consent around campus.

"I want to make it very clear where I stand on this issue," said Bailey. "Education and training for supporting victims of sexual assault should never be limited unless the number of sexual assaults for the entirety of the future is a collective zero," said Bailey.

Antony-Hale agreed with Bailey's ideas and appreciated his approach to the issue, but still said that she felt that residence advisors and house presidents should receive more extensive training.

Candidates also discussed how they would spend funds from the sale of the Whistler Lodge, with Bailey pushing for a shuttle service from Whistler to UBC, Antony-Hale preferring to spend it on Sexual Assault Support Centre and mental health initiatives on campus and V calling out the #passiveagressive hashtag for not being asked for his opinion on how the funds should be spent.

Voting will close on Friday, March 13.