UBC invites UBCO Student Union to VP Students search committee following apparent miscommunication

When UBC announced the resignation of Louise Cowin, its Vice-President of Students, it struck a search committee of 13 members to find a replacement. The committee included representation from both of Vancouver’s main student associations – the Alma Mater Society (AMS) and the Graduate Student Society (GSS).

Missing, however, was a representative from the UBC Students’ Union Okanagan (UBCSUO), which represents over 9,000 students at UBC’s Okanagan campus (UBCO).

This was a violation of UBC’s Policy 34, which requires that advisory committees include a member of the UBCSUO and of the AMS.

“In making appointments to an Advisory Committee,” reads the policy, “the Chair will endeavour to provide for a diverse and balanced Advisory Committee and to reflect a balance of representation between the Okanagan and Vancouver campuses.”

Without a UBCSUO representative, the 13-member committee’s only Okanagan member was Associate Vice-President of Students Ian Cull, whose office reports directly to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor at UBCO.

UBC’s President’s Office told The Ubyssey that they called and emailed the UBCSUO multiple times while they were forming the committee but received no response. UBC did not confirm when or to whom the invitations were sent.

An hour after saying they could not locate an invitation, UBCSUO VP External Paul Tran emailed The Ubyssey, saying they had “been contacted by the President’s office” and were nominating a representative.

“We are looking forward to working with UBC on the search.”

Tran did not respond to follow-up questions about when they had been contacted.

AMS President Marium Hamid stressed the importance of a student voice at the table and said she had mentioned the UBCSUO’s absence to the President’s Office, and that she was confident they had intended to add someone. She commended President Santa Ono for adding a representative of the GSS despite it not being required under Policy 34.

“A student voice is paramount for every search committee,” she said, “but especially for the VP Students office, which is the one point of contact that we have with the rest of UBC ... [Louise Cowin] has always been one of the strongest supporters of students within UBC administration.”

The VP Students office at UBC is responsible for “shaping the experience and learning environment for UBC undergraduate and graduate students.” Its portfolio extends to both UBC campuses and includes housing, athletics and recreation, student development services, surveying students, and liaising directly with student societies.

The GSS did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

This article has been edited to clarify that Ian Cull reports the DVC of UBCO, not the VP Students. The Ubyssey regrets this error.