AMS candidates talk a lot. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell if they’re telling the truth.
With that in mind, The Ubyssey is fact-checking every VP external candidate’s platform and all the statements they made during debates. We think it’s important for students to know when candidates are telling the truth, whether they’re being misleading and where they’re getting their numbers.
Here are our fact-checks for your candidates for VP external.
Will Shelling: “I've been involved in … larger organizations like the [Inter-Fraternity Council] where I advocated for the largest changes to the bylaws surrounding sexual violence.”
True. It is difficult to prove how much of a role Shelling had in the changes to the IFC’s bylaws or the actual degree to which the bylaws changed, but it is true that Shelling took over as interim IFC president in March 2018. The official IFC Bylaws also say “Amended by Will Shelling” in their cover pages, suggesting he made amendments to the bylaws.
Shelling: “I also advocated and supported more oversight for the Fraternity system to the University, AMS and the NIC (North-American interfraternity conference).”
Partly true. UBC and the AMS have very little oversight on how fraternities operate. It’s true there’s now a bylaw that fraternity members have to take consent training or face a fine, but many internal “frat” issues are still resolved by their judiciary board — a closed body.
Shelling: “I’ve organized the Stick-It to Cancer Tournament, which raised over $47,000 last year alone…. it’s the largest non-corporate event in Western Canada for the [Canadian Cancer Society].”
True. The Stick-it-to-cancer tournament did raise this amount last year — but his claim is also vague in the sense that he mentions he organizes the event, but does not say in what capacity. For the second half, the website does list the tournament as “one of Canada’s largest independent Canadian Cancer Society fundraisers.”
Cristina Ilnitchi: “I’ve played an important role in successfully advocating to eliminate interest on BC student loans.”
True. Ilnitchi travelled to Victoria with the Simon Fraser Student Society and British Columbia Federation of Students to lobby for the elimination of interest on student loans. It’s worth noting that only applies to the provincial interest — not the federal part of the loan.
Ilnitchi: “I’ve played an important role in successfully … getting a 5-year Upass contract.”
True: U-Pass was renewed for a five-year term earlier this year after the AMS and other student unions in Metro Vancouver reached a deal with Translink. While we don’t know how much of a role Cristina played individually, her office does most of the AMS’s lobbying with outside groups.
Ilnitchi: “I’ve played an important role in successfully … initiating and consulting with the provincial Sexual Violence Working Group.”
A bit unclear. Ilnitchi did lobby the provincial government about support for the implementation of sexual violence and misconduct policies at schools on a November trip to Victoria, but it’s unclear that she “initiated” working with the Sexual Violence Working Group.
Ilnitchi: “I’ve played an important role in … making the skytrain a regional priority.”
Hard to confirm. In an interview in December 2018, Ilnitchi said that the AMS was working on an advocacy strategy for a skytrain to UBC campaign. But UBC — a key stakeholder — has also aggressively campaigned for the Skytrain expansion to campus, so it’s unclear how much weight the AMS advocacy has on this issue.
Riley Ty: “While the BC government is currently constructing 24/7 virtual mental health resources for all post secondary students, this option will not work for everyone.”
Misleading. They’re searching for bids at the moment so we can’t be exactly sure this will happen or what it looks like. We also won’t know exactly what this service looks like or who it caters to. .
The first debate
Ilnitchi: “The Sexual Violence Working Group at the provincial level is not just working on policy but working on education, on outreach, systemic approaches to ensure that sexual violence is addressed on a holistic level.”
True. According to the BC Preventing and Responding to Sexual Violence and Misconduct at British Columbia Post-Secondary Institutions, along with policies, this program greatly recommends education and advocacy programs.
Shelling: “The federal government and provincial government matches RESP payments.”
Misleading. The federal government will match 20 per cent of any RESP contributions until the recipient reaches the age of 17 — not the full amount. The provincial government is not included in this, however they do have the British Columbia Training and Education Savings Grant , which offers an upfront grant of $1,200 for postsecondary education.
Shelling: “Canada is not on track to make its Paris climate agreements.”
True. It has been reported that Canada is far away from its goal to reach its agreements in the Paris climate agreement.
Ilnitchi: “I’ve made significant progress this past year on … student rental rights ... and lowering the cost of textbooks.”
Unclear. The past year, the AMS VP External portfolio has met with the provincial Student Housing Working Group and discussed their Rent with Rights recommendations — but it’s unclear how much progress this conversation has seen.
In terms of textbook costs, Ilnitch also called for funding to expand open educational resources, but it didn’t make it onto the 2019 budget. It’s unclear how much this discussion progressed during her lobbying trip.
The Great Debate
Shelling: “Student dollars are given to the UNA.”
True. The UNA is partly funded by its Neighbourhood Fund, which comes from a Service Levy that homeowners in the neighbourhood pay to UBC. Student residing in the neighbourhood encompassed by the UNA likely see the cost of this levy passed onto them as renters.
Ty: “The skytrain … is a 10-year project.”
Partly true. The potential earliest completion date for the Skytrain to UBC is just over the 10-year mark. But because the plan is nowhere near solidified, the likelihood of it being finished in 10 years is low.
Ilnitchi: “This past year … I’ve been advocating for better night bus services.”
True. Consulting with Translink on night bus services was on the agenda for VP External portfolio in October 2018.
Ilnitchi: “Riley, not once have you engaged in the campaigns of the VPX portfolio this past year, despite the opportunities awarded to councillors.”
False. Ty promoted two campaigns — Women's hockey game dedicated to Sexual Assault Awareness Month and her skytrain push before Vancouver City — on social media and shared feedback with Council regarding the Skytrain extension. That’s a pretty low bar, to be sure, but it’s more than the bulk of councillors do.
Shelling: “UBC [has] 54,000 students.”
An underestimate. UBC has 58,274 students.
Ty: “[Vancouver] is the last holdout in North America [to not have ridesharing services].”
False. There are other regions in North America without these services, such as Austin, Texas.