What we think about the 2023 referendum items

All year, we’ve been attending governance meetings and keeping an eye on what’s going on in the governance bodies at UBC. Here's a short rundown on what we think of each referenda item. We’re not here to tell how to vote, but we will be honest each question up for a vote.

Behold, The Ubyssey’s guide to the 2023 AMS Elections referenda.

The most visible bylaw change is the proposed creation of an Indigenous Constituency. According to Indigenous students, this would allow for them to unite Indigenous groups under one unit and allow for better self-governance, since the existing Indigenous Committee is bound to follow the AMS’s committee structure. The bylaw changes also include the elimination of some AMS Council seats, a change to the number of active members a constituency must have to have a Council seat or additional seats, a change to how Council can remove executives and power to the president to liaise with constituencies. The most troubling is the consolidation of affiliate school seats — all religious affiliate schools operate under different agreements with the province, making it tricky for one person to represent them all. However, it’s worth voting ‘yes’ for these changes to ensure the creation of the Indigenous constituency.

This referendum proposes an increase of $52.50 to the current $277.50 AMS/GSS Health & Dental Plan fee. In the last two years, the AMS health plan has seen significant claim increases, with students claiming $6.96 million last year, compared to $4.32 million in 2020/21. This fee increase plans to address the increasing number of student claims while ensuring students receive the same level of coverage. It is important to note that the gender-affirming care referendum is contingent on this referendum passing. Thus, this deserves a ‘yes’ vote to guarantee extended coverage for students.

Trans students at UBC are dangerously under-insured by the current AMS/GSS Health & Dental Plan, posing significant financial barriers for gender-affirming care. Despite councillors hearing personal testimonies regarding transphobic harassment at the February 13 AMS Council meeting, councillors voted to separate the $8 gender-affirming care fee increase from the general $52.50 fee increase. This act demonstrated the councillors' disregard for the Trans community, effectively increasing their visibility and heightening the chances of Trans violence. This is worth a ‘yes’ vote and serves as your opportunity to protect the health care rights of the campus Trans community.

The Ubyssey released an editorial in support of the Trans Coalition’s efforts on March 3.

This is the second time the Bike Kitchen has filed a referendum to raise its fee, after last year’s failed to meet quorum. The non-profit bike repair and education shop has accumulated over $50,000 in debt since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, limiting its ability to run free programs. In order to allow it to refocus on accessible community events, the Bike Kitchen said it needs a $3 increase to its existing $1.17. While the details on how the Bike Kitchen got into such a dire financial situation are a bit fuzzy, the fee increase is fairly small and worth it for such a valuable community resource.

Follow us at @UbysseyNews on Twitter and follow our election coverage starting February 27. This article is part of our 2023 AMS Elections coverage.