This year’s VP External race has two candidates: Student Legal Fund Society President Janzen Lee and current Associate VP External Jude Crasta.
The VP external is in charge of off-campus lobbying for the interests of university students. The person elected will work with groups such as TransLink and the municipal, provincial and federal governments to manage issues such as public transportation, elections, tuition and housing costs.
Lee’s election campaign is focused on representing the interests of UBC students and increasing information transparency between students and the AMS. In order to do this, Lee plans to create a blog that will be updated regularly to inform students of his progress so that they can give him feedback on his affairs.
“The external office has been so disconnected from the student body that it’s meant to represent,” said Lee. “I’m open for students to have their input, because that hasn’t been there in the preceding years.”
Through this blog, Lee plans to use student opinions to help direct his affairs.
Meanwhile, Crasta hopes to use his experience as associate VP external to engage students with the federal election, create fair legislation regarding affordable housing and continue improvements to Vancouver’s transit system.
As a supporter of the upcoming transit referendum, Crasta will work towards pushing for better transit options for students by advocating for a more equitable U-Pass, an increase in general bus service to campus and the extension of the Broadway Skytrain station to the university.
However, his first priority would be to engage students in the upcoming federal election.
“The voter turnout for citizens from the ages of 18 to 24 is 39 per cent, as opposed to 70 per cent of Canadian citizens that are at the age of 55 and above” says Crasta. “I hope to change that.”
Both candidates also outlined plans to advocate for affordability regarding tuition and housing costs. In order to combat the recent increases in these expenses, Crasta plans to fight for fair legislation over student housing with the provincial government and to raise student awareness regarding options for tuition costs.
“I’ve already been across the table from President Gupta in my term as associate VP and going back to those tables with the VP academic, seeing how we can coordinate together on the issues in making the university more accountable for the increases it quote-unquote proposes to students” said Crasta.
In contrast, Lee prioritizes making student loans more accessible to students and working with the municipal governments to lower off-campus housing costs. He also criticized the current AMS’s efforts to prevent the recent funding cuts from the federal government which led to recent increases in tuition and housing costs.
“Why wasn’t the external office involved in deliberation with the provincial government regarding these cuts?” asked Lee. “Why were those issued in the first place? Why were students not aware that those cuts were being made?”