Letter: Why Alan Ehrenholz IS running for AMS president

This is not a decision that I have come to lightly. It has taken a significant amount of thought and encouragement from the many people I have worked with over the past four years. While it is a decision that may have come too late in the eyes of many, I believe it is a necessary one nonetheless.

It is a decision that I hope many of you reading this will take seriously considering the voting period has already begun. It is a decision that I hope, to some extent at the very least, to explain with this letter.

Approximately one month ago, a few friends within engineering approached me and asked if I would consider being the person behind the Engineering Cairn's campaign. It seemed harmless enough and it was meant to be a joke campaign. Our plan was to have me come to debates with mini cairns, make people laugh and to make the election period a little more fun for everyone involved. Initially, I never intended to organize a “real” campaign. This was for us and the rest of campus to enjoy.

Truthfully, until late this afternoon, this was still the way I felt. However, a few events so far during the campaign period have contributed to changing my mind.

First, the lack of what I would consider a bona fide and qualified candidate emerged. On this point, some may disagree with me. For me however, this is the case. Throughout the nomination period, I heard rumours of this person or that person running, but no one came through.

In addition, I was waiting throughout the campaign period, hoping that someone would set themselves apart from the rest of the candidates. I was hoping that a candidate would step up during the Great Debate on Friday and deliver resounding answers that resonated with the student body. However, to my dismay, no one did. This played a major factor in my decision-making process.

Second were the campaigns of my fellow candidates. From inappropriate posts to lack of experience, my fellow candidates unfortunately have not lived up to the standards that I have for an AMS president. I hope that you may consider me to live up to the standards that you have for an AMS presidential candidate.

Finally, there's the support of so many of my close friends. The role of AMS president is a huge commitment on many fronts and without the support of the many people I have had the pleasure to work with the past four years, I would not have been able to come to this decision. I hope that if you decide to keep reading, you may come to support me as well.

So, back to Alan Ehrenholz for AMS president.

What does Alan the presidential candidate mean? What does he stand for? What is a part of his platform? I hope to provide that to you now.

To begin with, my experience of the AMS provides me with knowledge of its inner workings. Through my previous experiences as EUS president, an AMS councillor and an AMS committee chair, I am sure I will be able to step into the president’s office confidently on May 1 and continue to efficiently coordinate the affairs of the AMS.

Furthermore, after giving my life to student politics, the EUS and the AMS for the first three years of my degree, I understand the level of dedication that is required from anyone who is in charge of a student society. I have been the president of the EUS, and know what it takes to work with and motivate a team of 70 volunteers and how to work for and with a team of councillors. In addition, I have worked with past AMS presidents and staff, and understand the relationships that are formed within the office.

I plan to build on the strategic plan that the current executive has been working on this year. A document like this cannot be ignored by an incoming executive — it is something we have to collectively work on with council and AMS staff. This document will guide the next AMS executive in increasing engagement with campus partners and students, increasing support for subsidiary groups, continuing to grow a culture of consultation and providing transparency in our communications and finances.

Moving the AMS in a positive direction includes furthering the important work being done with the governance review. Having been a member of the committee that started working on the review, I'm excited about the opportunity to return to working with this review in a way that will benefit the student body.

Maintaining our support for varsity athletics and student life on campus — including supporting our clubs and constituencies in their initiatives — is key to continuing to grow campus spirit. The AMS's 2015/16 Academic Experience Survey showed a connection betweens students involved on campus, a sense of community and a positive mental well-being. I believe empowering student involvement on campus would lead students to feel a sense of purpose and community that eventually leads to an increase in positive well-being.

UBC’s sexual assault policy is currently under review and I feel that consultation with professionals more well-versed in the topic than myself would be a necessary step in finalizing this policy so that it supports victims in the best way possible. One point that I would like to discuss further is how reports against faculty and staff are sent to their “administrative head of unit” for investigation. Instead, it could be more appropriate to allow the “administrative head of unit” to delegate the investigation to an expert.

I’ve made this decision to run under my own name because — even running as a joke candidate — I was the best option to be your next AMS president. I want to assure you this was never about using the Cairn to gain an advantage. However, it is about ensuring a bona fide and qualified candidate is elected to the AMS president’s office. I promise, that if elected, I will do my very best to represent you during my 365 days in office.

 Alan Ehrenholz is a fourth-year engineering student and AMS presidential candidate.