Candidate profile: Remzi Fuentes, VP External

After a fiery speech at the Great Debate on Friday night, it is unclear whether graduate student Remzi Xhemalce Fuentes is still running for the VP External portfolio.

Fuentes walked off the stage within the first five minutes of the debate, after declaring that the Graduate Student Society (GSS) had unfairly questioned his candidacy in the previous debate. This speech — which was in response to a question posed to all candidates about sexual misconduct prevention — has left people questioning whether or not he still intends to run.

Fuentes has not responded to requests for confirmation on the status of his candidacy from The Ubyssey.

Pending his confirmation, Fuentes is running for VP External of the AMS and the GSS and envisions using the two roles simultaneously to perform advocacy.

At the VP External debate on February 25, there was discussion over whether running for both AMS and GSS VP External positions would violate AMS code Section 2, Article 1: Conflict of Interest, a point raised by GSS President Nicolas Romualdi.

Fuentes’s platform for the AMS position is most heavily weighted on the issue of affordability. And while he has ambitious goals on this issue, the rest of his platform has varying degrees of planning involved.

One of Fuentes’s primary goals is to advocate for free post-secondary tuition in BC. He plans on doing this by “changing mindsets” at the government and individual level on the privatization of education.

“We need to show [the federal government] the clear data and the clear statements on why education is important,” he said.

In addition to free tuition, Fuentes hopes to continue the VP external office’s previous work lobbying the federal government for lower interest rates on student loans and loan forgiveness.

At the provincial level, he plans on advocating for student housing costs by pushing for an increased Empty Home Tax in Vancouver, as well as engaging with private developers to increase student accommodation on campus.

“We should star[t] discussion by turning the useless Golf Course into affordable student houses,” his website mentions. The University Golf Club is owned and operated by the Musqueam Capital Corporation

Additionally, as part of his affordability goals, Fuentes plans on tackling food insecurity on campus. Although it does not directly fall under the VP external portfolio, Fuentes said he would support the AMS Food Bank by securing donations from food providers and by reaching out to third-party organizations to increase the number of non-profit eateries on campus.

“Students rely on the AMS Food Bank and that has been doing a good job,” he said. “... But the Food Bank needs a lot more reach.”

In terms of his climate action plans, Fuentes hopes to perform advocacy fighting for renewable energy and Indigenous rights.

“There needs to be a strong position from UBC,” he said. “And from the position of the VP External … we need much more renewable energy. We need that [for] the rights of all peoples in this country be respected.”

In the debate on February 25, Fuentes also mentioned that he would collaborate with the University Neighbourhoods Association to prevent instances of racial profiling on campus, an issue usually not included in VP External campaigning.

This article has been updated to clarify that the question about sexual misconduct prevention was asked to all candidates, not just Fuentes.