The Ubyssey's 2016 AMS referendum endorsements

The AMS is endorsing a yes vote for most of the referendum questions currently open to students. Others have been more critical. We'll break down what each question means, and how we'll be voting.


Question: Do you support and approve the continuation of the U-Pass BC program at the following prices?

  • $39.50/month: May 2016 – April 2017
  • $41.00/month: May 2017 – April 2018

Our stance: Vote yes. If this doesn’t pass, no more U-Pass. It’s that simple.

Results: 11 for, 0 against

WUSC (refugees)

Question: Do you support an increase in your AMS fees from $2.61 to $5.22 a year to allow the UBC Branch of the World University Services Canada (WUSC) to enhance supports for refugee students at UBC?

Our stance: Vote yes. This could be problematic from certain ideological standpoints. The points we've heard against this referendum mostly stem from the idea that one shouldn't be forced to give money to charity if they haven't explicitly agreed to, and the argument that there are other, better charities out there.

Practically, though, we think it's a great idea to double the amount of refugees able to attend UBC for an increase that almost no one is going to notice. As Jenna Omassi said, “For the price of a cup of coffee or a slice of pizza, you can support eight human beings to come to the amazing country and university we live and study in.”

Results: 11 for, 0 against


Question: Do you support and approve an increase in the annual AMS Membership Fee of $4.20, from $38.44 to $42.64, effective September 2016?

Our stance: We didn't come to a consensus. Their justification for the increase boils down to the fact that use of services like SafeWalk and the Foodbank has increased — this is true. What they neglect to mention is that, when it comes to managing money, the AMS has blown it (see — the Perch). None of us feel great about the AMS asking students to pay for their mistakes.

That said, depending on your outlook, it might be worth it in the short-term to pay $4.20 rather than potentially see services like SafeWalk face cuts. We don't want to bail out the AMS as much as the next person, but we also don't want to see students suffer.

Results: three for, two against, six abstaining

Health & Dental

Question: Do you support the following modification to the fee structure of the AMS/GSS Health & Dental extended health plan?

At minimum, the AMS/GSS Extended Health & Dental Plan fee will increase by the higher of:

  • 0 per cent
  • increase of the Consumer Price Index of the previous year

An increase in excess of this minimum percentage and up to 5 per cent annually may be made if approved by a special resolution of the GSS Council and a two thirds resolution of the AMS Council, provided that a recommendation for such an increase is made by the AMS/GSS Health & Dental Plan Committee.

The recommendation made by the AMS/GSS Health & Dental Plan Committee regarding fee increases will reflect the financial status of the plan as well as any coverage changes in the plan.

Our stance: Vote yes. Basically, this allows Council some flexibility in increasing fees (with limitations) in order to keep up with CPI. This sums it up nicely.

Results: six for, 0 against, five abstaining


Question: Do you support and approve the adoption of the Bylaw and Constitutional revisions outlined in the documents AMS Bylaws Housekeeping and Societies Act Revisions  and ‘AMS Constitution Societies Act Compliance Revisions’, these revisions to take effect November 28, 2016?

Our stance: Vote yes. It's just housekeeping to make sure the AMS is in line with Societies Act in BC. None of your money is on the line here.

Results: 11 for, 0 against

Referendum on referendums

Question: Do you support and approve the adoption of the Bylaw revisions outlined in the document ‘AMS Bylaws Referendum Rules Revision’, these revisions to take effect immediately?

Our stance: Vote no. This is definitely not just housekeeping, though that’s how they’re trying to pass it off. This, in theory, would reform questions that are leading or asking for something illegal. Sounds like a reasonable idea, until you consider that Council —the governing body of the AMS — would be the ones altering the questions. They would get to decide what constitutes a question to be “leading,” and decide the new wording. They would also be unrestricted by any timeline for getting back to the groups, meaning they could just put it off indefinitely, and would not be required to consult with the question askers to collaborate on a new wording, meaning they could just make it up themselves.

If a section were added that required a deadline for new wording that could not be overridden by a two-thirds majority, and the original question askers had to be consulted, our vote would definitely be reconsidered.

If you'd like more information, here's a letter in advocating a yes vote, and here's one advocating a no vote.

Results: one for, eight against, two abstaining


Question: Do you direct the AMS to provide a new, social restaurant lounge in the Nest for students with a social culture reminiscent of the former Gallery Lounge?

Our stance: Vote no. As much as it hurts to say this, this isn't the right question to bring back the dingy lounge we know and love. The question, as it stands, doesn't say where the new Gallery will be built, meaning there is still potential for them to do something dumb with the former Perch space

Also, when people behind Bring Back the Gal are asked to define what the culture of the Gal actually is it tends to be a variation of "it was different for everyone," or dodged altogether. Students need to be consulted properly before an attempt to build a new Gal should be undertaken.

We at least need a guarantee that it won't be named another bird pun.

Results: 0 for, 11 against

Artsy fee

Question: Do you support the AMS establishing a refundable, graduated Campus Culture and Performance Fee of $1.50 to contribute to student performance and cultural groups on campus?

  • The fee would be fully refundable upon request.
  • The fee would be levied annually on all active AMS members beginning in September 2016.
  • The amount of the fee would increase annually by $0.25 for ten years and then annually in accordance with CPI.
  • The fee will be administered by the Finance Commission and split equally among UBC Film Society, Blank Vinyl Project, UBC Debate Society, UBC Slam, UBC Jazz Café Club, UBC Player’s Club, and UBC Musical Theatre Troupe, or their successors.

Our stance: Vote no. We're always happy to support arts and culture on campus, but this question is needlessly restricted to certain clubs with no oversight as to how they'll need to spend it. If a new, amazing club popped into existence and wanted to use some of this money, they wouldn't be able to.

Also take a look at AMS Vanguard's justification for a solid explanation (look for the gif of the sobbing man next to a person in a dog suit).

Results: 0 for, eight against, three abstaining