Candidate profile: Max Holmes, Board of Governors

After a year on the Board of Governors, Max Holmes is vying to return with a wide-ranging platform that places particular emphasis on inclusion and affordability.

Having served as the AMS VP academic and university affairs from 2017 to 2019 and a long-term student senator, Holmes is also running for re-election on the Senate, where he hopes he can champion cross-collaboration.

“I see myself as somebody who’s able to play a role of bridging those two bodies because often … there’s no real communication between the two,” he said.

Holmes wants to use his dual role to ensure the proper execution of UBC’s long-term planning, specifically the Indigenous Strategic Plan and Inclusion Action plan.

“UBC is really great at creating a plan or vision or framework. We are horrible at implementing it and supporting it,” he said.

One way Holmes plans to do this is through his seat on the Finance Committee, where he will work to secure funding so that the plans will have the staff and resources necessary for execution.

Holmes also sits on the Academic Renewal Working Group that oversees the President’s Academic Excellence Initiative to recruit faculty, expand classroom space and, most importantly for him, provide more financial support for graduate students.

Holmes wants to lighten grad students’ financial burden by providing full tuition waivers, increasing minimum tuition stipends, lobbying the province for funding and allocating some of the President’s over $100-million Blue and Gold alumni fundraising campaign towards graduate student awards.

The effort is a part of a push from student governors for a strategic plan that would bring all of UBC’s disparate affordability initiatives under a single vision. In BoG meetings over the past year, Holmes has been unafraid to publicly challenge governors and UBC executives for failing to consider students’ financial insecurity on topics like tuition increases and expensive capital projects.

Another pillar of affordability that Holmes has championed is housing, which he has made his personal project as vice-chair of the Property Committee. He said he will support capital projects that provide cheap student housing, work to lower the current rental prices of UBC’s residence system and lobby local governments to provide inexpensive co-operative housing.

Holmes also mentioned the Government Business Enterprise (GBE) as a source of funding for student priorities. The term refers to the creation of UBC Hospitality Trust, a corporation that while university-owned, would be financially self-sufficient.

Pending a tax ruling, the GBE would enable UBC to borrow more money for housing projects and allow it to build substantial capital projects more quickly.

When asked what qualities and skills make for a good student governor, Holmes highlighted being able to put in the time to relationship-build and communicate effectively with all the university’s stakeholders.

“You need to be talking to the AMS, the GSS, students senators. You need to be talking to the executives. You need to be engaging with your fellow governors, and so it requires a lot of work,” said Holmes.

“But you really need to be … communicating how what's in the best interest of students is often in the best interests of the university.”