Two opposing slates, Students for Accountability and Students for Responsible Leadership, are running against each other for control of the Student Legal Fund Society.
While mutual agreement about the need to improve the recognition and accessibility of the SLFS exists between the two slates, they have differing views on how to specifically achieve this.
Founded in 1998, the SLFS collects $1 annually from UBC students to fulfill its mandate of providing legal assistance to students who are in need of it. However, both slates acknowledge that the society has not been adequately realizing these objectives. Thus, most students do not know that the society exists.
Carol Dou, Jude Crasta, Kathleen Simpson, Ron Gorodetsky, Bahareh Jokar and Tanner Bokor are running as the Students for Accountability slate. Cameron Sharpe, Janzen Lee, Julius Foo, Lama Al-Awawdeh and Nathan Ho are running as the Students For Responsible Leadership slate.
According to Bokor, the key to improving the brand of the SLFS is to make it mandatory for the society to release public audits, as SLFS has never released audits in the past.
“[The SLFS is] very closed about the types of cases that they take on if they take on any cases, and they certainly have no financial transparency,” said Bokor.
Bokor also said that it is necessary to establish institutional support for the SLFS through building effective partnerships with institutions on campus, such as the AMS and GSS.
The Students for Responsible Leadership has a different emphasis on how to increase the visibility of the SLFS. Lama Al-Awawdeh said that her slate will continue using public events such as student workshops to keep students informed on the services that the SLFS provides, but also hopes to increase the outreach and accessibility of the society.
“We’ve already started an awareness campaign, studentlegal.org, and that makes funding more accessible to students. We have a workshop coming up quite soon,” said Al-Awawdeh.
Apart from their specific agendas, the two slates also differ in terms of the backgrounds and credentials of their candidates. The Students for Accountability candidates have all previously worked in the AMS while the Students for Responsible Leadership candidates obtained their leadership experience entirely outside the AMS.
Bokor believes that the AMS experiences of his slate’s candidates make them the more effective candidates in the election. Specifically, he noted how the AMS experiences of his candidates make them familiar with running a major student organization.
“Every member of our slate has worked in the AMS. They know the expectations of how to run an organization and they have a bit more perspective on what works best and what doesn’t,” said Bokor.
However, Al-Awawdeh doesn't believe that previous AMS experience is an asset. She said that the outreach of the AMS to UBC students is actually very limited and that the greater background diversity of her slate’s candidates can create an SLFS that will better connect with students.
“I have noticed that many students don’t even know what the AMS is when you ask them, and that I think is a huge downfall. I think not knowing what the AMS is definitely shows that students who are largely involved in the AMS haven’t done the greatest job at connecting with students,” said Al-Awawdeh.
This year, the Students for Accountability is an entirely new slate while the Students for Responsible Leadership is an incumbent one. However, all candidates running for the SLFS are new members, with the exception of Lee, who currently serves as president of the SLFS.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article said that, according to Al-Awawdeh, the SLFS will continue to use student workshops to make its services known to students. The article has been updated to include the fact that they also hope to increase outreach and accessibility this year.
The last quote in the article has also been expanded to give more context.