AMS aims to elect VP Academic by September 22

The AMS aims to elect a new permanent VP Academic and University Affairs (VPAUA) by September 22 — two months after Daniel Lam resigned from the position.

This incoming executive will be in charge of “ensuring student experience is well represented in the strategic plan UBC is creating, advocating for student-friendly allocations of the Excellence Fund and working to provide students with a strong voice in all aspects of the university — tuition, campus development and more,” according to interim VPAUA Jakob Gattinger.

As stated in the recently released by-election timeline, the nomination period will start on September 4. Potential candidates are required to collect at least 50 signatures from “active members of the society” which means current UBC students who are not in default of AMS fee payment.

Nomination forms will be available both online and outside the AMS office in the Nest, but they will have to be “submitted in person to the administrative assistant in Nest Room 3502” before 3:30 p.m. on September 11. The mandatory all-candidates meeting to go over the by-election’s structure will then be held on the same day at 5 p.m.

Campaign period will officially start on September 12 at 12 a.m.

According to AMS Elections Administrator Filza Raza, posters will still be allowed as a campaign method in this by-election — despite a recent proposal by the Elections Committee that they be phased out.

“Right now, we are just following rules that were enforced in the general election of 2017,” she said.

Given the time crunch, only one debate is currently planned. However, more could be planned if there is a “larger number of candidates” or if “a candidate is not available for that one debate,” according to Raza.

The online poll will open for voting on September 18 and will close on September 22 at 4 p.m. The result will be announced on the same day at 5:30 p.m.

When asked if these early dates could lead to a decrease in candidate and voter’s participation, Raza acknowledged this time crunch but also noted that the union will be working hard to advertise the position.

“Currently, we are definitely going to be using social media as a huge marketing tool because I know for the past general election, they primarily used their social media tools and that was how they increased voter turnout,” she said.

“Extensively, we will have some posters up, people on the ground available for questions, public outreach events like ‘Coffee with the Candidates.’ We will also try other engagement events in the Nest or out in the courtyard where there is a lot of traffic.”

Another goal that she has is to educate students — especially those who are not closely involved with the AMS — about the position. This is particularly relevant as Gattinger noted that the position’s responsibilities extend beyond what are officially listed, when asked to reflect on his term so far.

“The most important duty is summarized in Section 6, Article 5 of Code: ‘lobby the university on issues of interest to students and involving the university, including but not limited to daycare, equity, safety, academics, university policies, campus planning, student housing, [as well as] mental health and well-being’ — the one small portion in code doesn’t do this part of the job justice, though,” said Gattinger in a written statement.

“There are many meetings, committees and initiatives in which the VPAUA must be active in order to be effective. Many of the things described in bylaws and code are administrative in nature and don’t actually require much time to complete, such as constituency responsibilities, because the bulk of the time lies in advocacy.”

In the mean time, Raza will have to first finish hiring the Elections Committee before the nomination period, but the chief returning officer has been hired. Jakob Gattinger will continue to be the interim VPAUA — a role that he has held since July 31 — until the AMS Council meeting on September 27.

This article has been updated to give update on the hiring of the chief returning officer and clarify the transition date.