Candidate profile: Axel Kong, Board of Governors

Second-year cognitive systems student Axel Kong is running to be a student representative on the Board of Governors (BoG), but he did not show up for either debate. He also never created a Board of Governors profile on the AMS website.

Yet Kong is also running for student-at-large on the Senate, and he created a profile for that campaign and attended both Senate debates.

When asked by The Ubyssey over email, he clarified that he missed the first BoG debate due to personal matters and the second because he got the time wrong.

“I think the debate is just one way to reflect the platform and there are many other ways to do so,” he wrote after his first debate.

In his interview with The Ubyssey, Kong articulated that he would pursue a platform of international inclusion and alumni engagement if elected.

Kong said he is considering a minor in anthropology, noting that the classes he’s taking on the subject have shaped the way he thinks and advocates for students.

“I always view perspectives and different people through an anthropological lens, and I really focus on understanding what someone’s personal background is or what culture they actually represent because I feel like knowing a person’s background and knowing his way of thinking is really important because everyone thinks differently,” said Kong.

Alongside his experience of living in many different countries growing up, this anthropological lens helps Kong “relate to students.” He said “underrepresented international students” would be a focus of his inclusion advocacy.

Another of Kong’s main platform points is the improvement of employment prospects after graduation. He said he would achieve this by strengthening UBC’s alumni network with more engagement offices in foreign countries.

“Three fourths of international students that actually graduate from UBC — they actually go back to their home country … maybe because of more opportunities that are out there,” he said. “We don’t have any international alumni centre offices in countries like China, India, and also Korea and Japan … Maybe build centres or international region offices in those countries.”

On the subject of support for Indigenous students, Kong also said the university should host more workshops on Indigenous culture and history.

“The stories need to come out about how those people were actually affected in the past because of the residential schools,” said Kong.

When asked, Kong was unable to identify high-profile policies that are discussed heavily in BoG meetings like the Integrated Renewal Program, President’s Academic Excellence Initiative.

In a written statement to The Ubyssey after the first debate, Kong said his being a newcomer made him a more desirable candidate. But incumbents Jeanie Malone and Max Holmes both emphasized what Malone called the Board’s “steep learning curve” in their interviews, due the complicated nature of the body.

“I have great respect for [Malone and Holmes] but at the same time, as many students have pointed out before, sometimes it would be frustrating if we have the same people stay in office over and over again without looking at the general needs of students,” said Kong.