Whoever is elected AMS VP Academic and University Affairs (VPAUA) will be making huge decisions this year on your behalf.
The position is “a go-between for concerned students and the university administration,” according to the AMS website. This expansive role has a much more tangible impact on UBC than other VPs, with its hands in projects such as: representing student interests in university policies on sexual assault and accessibility; campaigning for affordability, from tuition to housing to textbooks; Indigenous issues and reconciliation efforts; and the Academic Experience Survey, which is arguably the most important tool for demonstrating what students want and need.
Sound pretty important? That’s because it is. And right now, the vacancy for this position — left open when prior VPAUA Daniel Lam resigned midsummer — is up for a by-election, with two disparate candidates running.
Max Holmes, the current associate VPAUA, is running a pretty standard campaign focused on affordability, diversity, improving the campus experience and creating more co-op and mentorship opportunities for students. He’s a second-year, but acquired some experience early working under Lam and then interim VPAUA Jakob Gattinger for the past five months.
Franz Kurtzke, a philosophy major, is running an outsider campaign of social justice reform, promoting free speech, “antifragile” mental health policies and alternative theories to rape culture. He has no student government experience and during the debate appeared unfamiliar with most VPAUA responsibilities.
Last by-election’s voter turnout in 2013 was an abysmal 3.8 per cent, or 1,821 people. If voter turnout is similarly low this time around, the result could be swayed by very few students. No matter who you’re voting for, your vote matters.
If you don’t believe us, look at last year’s batshit insane Arts Undergraduate Society elections, in which 7.5 per cent (1,060) of Arts students voted: the president was decided by 22 votes, the VP Internal was decided by 11, and the VP External race had three candidates that ended up within three votes of each other. The winner was decided by a single vote.
Voting begins Monday and runs through the entire week. It’s incredibly easy to do online, so set aside the fraction of your day that it will take and participate in campus democracy. With that accomplished, you can feel more justified in complaining about the AMS.