Presidential candidates discuss student life, tuition increases and Hunger Games

The three presidential candidates faced off at their first debate on Thursday, March 5.

Student senator and former Science Undergraduate Society president Aaron Bailey pushed forth to improve student life on campus.

“My opinion in terms of what the AMS needs to do in the upcoming year is to return the student back into student politics by focusing on creating a memorable, positive and fun experience for its constituents,” said Bailey.

Bailey also said that while many may criticize a campaign that is focused on student life, he feels that engaging students through events and activities is imperative to creating strong communities.

Feminist Club founder Cheneil Antony-Hale had ambitious goals of providing more legal support to residents of student housing and increasing the number of student seats on the Board of Governors. However, her power to implement the latter would be severely limited.

"I'm also going to push for greater control for students over their fees and university spending by increasing the number of seats, hopefully, on the Board of Governors," said Antony-Hale.

If elected, Antony-Hale also hopes to bring mandatory sexual assault training for residence advisors and create a resource centre for students with disabilities.

Joke candidate V pressed for his vision of a campus where all the students leave university and organize a Hunger Games-style battle to decide who will have the best spaces in the new SUB.

When asked about their leadership styles, Antony-Hale said that she prefers consultation while Bailey replied that, although he enjoys taking charge, he also hopes to collaborate with his executive team to bring different working styles together.

V said that he prefers to step back and let students fight things out for themselves in a deadly battle.

“As many of you might know, my leadership style is to not lead at all,” said V. “Once I’m the president, I will dissolve the executive council, let them fend for themselves and fight each other.”

Bailey brought up Antony-Hale’s lack of experience in student government by asking how her previous involvement would help her if she were to become president.

Antony-Hale replied that her experience founding UBC’s Feminist Club taught her how to listen and lead in a way that allows people with different ideas to be heard.

“I will adjust my leadership style to make it a benefit to you and thus a benefit to the team as well because everyone knows stuff,” said Antony-Hale.

V continued to push forth the idea of staging a Hunger Games-style faceoff to allocate the best areas of the new SUB to the most deserving.

“When something belongs to everyone, it means that it doesn’t belong to anyone at all,” said V.

Antony-Hale questioned whether Bailey's fun-centred campaign would address issues such as accessibility and diversity on campus.

Bailey said that he would support, but not interfere with, the efforts of the VP Academic, whose portfolio specifically includes working to ensure diversity and accessibility for students.

Executives also received questions on how they would build a relationship with UBC president Arvind Gupta, with both Bailey and Antony-Hale agreeing that they needed to do more to communicate with him that tuition and residence increases are a problem for students.

Antony-Hale again stressed that her top priority would be to implement mandatory sexual assault training to residence advisors, as students who have been assaulted on campus often go to them for help first.

Bailey said that, as Student Housing and Hospitality Services already provides sexual assault training to its staff, it would be better to focus such lobbying efforts on increased education about consent and sexual assault.

Antony-Hale replied that the training that SHHS provides on sexual assault is short and often taken lightly.

An audience member told Antony-Hale that, as someone who had worked as a residence advisor for two years, she had received extensive training on how to advise victims of sexual assault and felt offended by Antony-Hale saying that the training they receive is insufficient.

According to Hale, her conversations with members of UBC’s Sexual Assault and Support Centre (SASC) and other residence advisors led her to believe that more training is needed.

Candidates also discussed balancing their own projects with those of other executives, transitioning to the new SUB and supporting First Nations students on campus during the debate.

The presidential candidates will square off again at the Great Debate on Tuesday, March 10.