OMG, a liveblog!

8:51 – Meeting Adjourned. Two hours of presentation. Forty minutes of business.

8:49 – Check out the AMS VoteView on RadicalBeer.

8:48 – Clicker security is an issue.

8:47 – Ad hoc Equity Committee nomination. The new member is Sean Heisler, by acclamation.

8:45 – And, VOTING! Blake votes against, for some reason. Or, maybe not.

Seriousness often costs some sort of money.
Colin Simkus

8:42 – Colin commits the cardinal sin of council. Echoing himself.

8:36 – The budget for the student advocacy is not sufficient.

8:33 – Bizarro Colin Simkus is speaking to the motion opposed to cutting Post Secondary Education. We need to go on the offensive against the government! We need to protest at the VAG!

8:31 – Blake has sent an email regarding the Code change to the Chair of Code. I am satisfied.

8:25 – NOTHING is happening in SUS. The EUS is writing poetry. Awwww, Law. They’re trying to figure out how to hold drinking events. And Law might be holding class in the Rose Garden. The AUS had a Council meeting next week, and is first year event planning is underway. The CUS has a HUGE frosh of 375 students!

8:20 – Constituencies might be involved in Club’s Days this year. That’s be cool. Also, a new form (!!!1!!!111!!) for subsidy assistance (I actually think this is a good idea, it’s just I’m bitter that the committee that I got rid of, transferring that power to XCom, has come back).

8:19 – Check out Crystal’s “really long sign”.

8:17 – I just heard “Patients have to die now” from Johannes. He should get a job on one of Obama’s Death Panels. Also, Johannes gets the plural right for VPs Academic.

8:14 – Interesting news from the War on Fun regarding the assignment of housing points to Greek Houses. Will try and find out some more about this for the future.

8:09 – Wow, that took some time. There was a motion to amend the agenda to oppose the University’s lobbying to lift the cap. Now, this is ALREADY A POLICY. We oppose increases over the cap. We do not need to pass another motion to get the executive to do something about it. The executive are in charge of determining how to bring about the will of Council – an operative responsibility. Council is responsible for telling the Executive what to do, not how to do it. If the policy already exists, and it doesn’t need funding, it doesn’t need a motion.

7:59 – Holy crap, Tom Dvorak is tanned.

7:58 – I have to give kudos to the University for being very forthright and transparent about this.

7:56 – Every time a presentation goes on longer than an hour and a half, I have to wonder if there is a better forum to have these discussions. I mean, council is great, but there could be a better audience, and a better way to have this type of discussion, ones that could reach more people.

7:53 – Bijan makes a really good point about how high cost education programs is going to restrict access to people in lower income quartiles, and the development of global citizens requires a diversity, a diversity which should include income diversity.

7:45 – Blake reiterates the AMS Council policy opposed to increasing tuition above 2%. Alex Monegro articulates a somewhat softer stance. This sparks a general discussion on the lifting of the soft cap on tuition.

7:43 – This is good…

If you’re in the Maritimes right now, you’re really sucking wind as a University.
-Brian Sullivan

7:39 – Decent point culled from the live chat. Where exactly is the international student rep for this discussion? I don’t know why that position exists, and would be in favour of getting rid of it (ladies and gentlemen, start your flamethrowers).

7:34 – OK. If you think it’s going to be a sh*rt meeting, keep it to yourself. Don’t say it’s going to be sh*rt, or qu*ck, or other things like that. Go outside, spin around three times, and spit.

7:30 – Guillaume is talking about the ‘fringe’ students, or students on the cusp of the admissions average. BSul reiterates (using a rather mangled use of the term ‘social contract’ – hint, it’s not the social contract when there is a written obligation to do it, although UBC is going above and beyond the obligation) that the amount of domestic student admissions will not be projected to decrease. Or, in his words, “fine”.

7:28 – Bijan – always interesting remarks from him on the university. And it was. And the answer was basically ‘We do not quite yet have the full plan’.

7:27 – Also, random noticings, we have both a Hannes and a JoHannes on Council.

7:26 – It’s been three years since she got elected. Eventually, Dave will learn to pronounce it “ta-HAIR-ah”.

7:22 – The recruitment program that got quashed at Senate four years ago, and the reason that I started getting interested in the AMS/UBC level of student politics, is not, apparently, an option that would be considered. I’ll hold them to that.

7:20 – I like that the answer that BSul gave was basically “There’s the law, and there’s what’s fair. We try to have a good balance of the two.”

7:16 – Naylor here. I’m sitting here in AMS Council. I’m listening to what is perhaps the most frank discussion about UBC financing that I’ve ever heard at AMS council. I mean, it probably is. I inhaled a bunch of bleach earlier today.


August 19, 2009 at 7:17 pm 1 comment

Wednesday, May 27th Council Update

Hi everyone,

Here is the update about what took place at the most recent meeting. In future we’ll try to have updates up more promptly.

The meeting started off with Dave (the Speaker) asking the councillors and visitors to introduce themselves as well as describe their particular fetish. After this unconventional opening, we had a brief presentation from Nancy Knight from Campus and Community Planning. She spoke about the general vision for campus development over the long term. The basic idea was that growth would occur primarily through infill (building up currently underdeveloped spots, such as parking lots), rather than by building outwards.  After the presentation, a number of people asked very pertinent questions. Blake (AMS President) raised an important concern, by noting that although UBC says there is a need for 1000 new childcare spaces on campus, the presentation only outlined plans for 150 spaces. Interestingly, Darren Peets (a legendary former councillor) also briefly showed up to ask about the preservation of trees near the old armoury site. Some of the highlights of the presentation include a planned expansion of roughly 500 beds for Vanier and Totem, the creation of two new K-12 schools, and the expansion of the Main Mall pedestrian only zone. Many of these seem like good plans, but its important that we work to hold Campus and Community Planning to account, in order to ensure that this smooth presentation translates into changes on the ground.

The second presentation came from the Johannes Rebane, the VP Academic and University Affairs. He presented on the Whistler Orientation Weekend (for councillors and staff), which I can attest was a great deal of fun. Also, the AMS Whistler Lodge is very inexpensive, and student owned, so all the profits go back to students. In addition to getting to know the people we will be working closely with this year, the trip also featured a strategic planning session, where we set our goals for the year.  Everyone probably had one or two particular goals that interested them for the upcoming year. The goal that most interests me personally is having a comparative review done of the relative benefits and costs of membership in different national student lobbying organizations. I look forward to working on this task as part of the External Policy Committee.

After these two presentations, the executives all gave their usual updates to council. Blake Frederick probably delivered the most interesting update. Basically, VANOC refused to meet with him to discuss a number of concerns about the impact of the Olympics on UBC students (for instance Wesbrook Mall will be closed for several weeks before, during, and after the games). Hopefully the exec will continue to make a firm but respectful push to ensure that students can be made aware of changes they will need to make during the Olympics, and so that they can have some say in the impacts on their campus.

Johannes’ report created a mixed reaction from council, when he mentioned that UBC is one of the leading schools in the country in combating binge drinking.

Tom Dvorak (VP Finance) also presented a noteworthy update, mentioning that his office was looking to greatly boost the funding for the student iniatives fund. This is actually really noteworthy, and if well publicized could prove a very effective way to raise the profile of the AMS.

Tim Chu (VP External) gave a relatively straightforward update, mentioning that he has completed his hiring, while Crystal (VP Administration) is still pushing ahead with the new SUB Project.

There were 3 main motions being discussed. The first two passed very quickly. First, council agreed to provide some moderate raises to the Student Administrative Commision’s Vice Chair, Club Commisioner, and Art Gallery Commisioner.

Secondly, council approved a Memordadum of Understanding between the Engineering Undergraduate Society and the University that will allow the work to begin on the new Engineering social space that will replace the Cheeze.

Lastly, and perhaps most substantively, Council got around to appointing members to committees that were not filled at the previous meeting. A number of very worthwhile candidates were selected. Of particular note for Arts students is that Pelican Mann, the Meekison Arts Student Space Officer for the Arts Undergraduate Society was appointed to the Appointments Review Committee, where she will be working to establish a more objective basis for how much we pay our workers. Congratulations to her, as well as to everyone else who was appointed.

Next meeting we still have one more vacancy to appoint. There is one spot on the External Policy Committee, open for members at large (non-councillors). This committee is arguably the most political AMS committee, as it deals with AMS policies with regards to government outside of the university.

After the committee appointments were done, we briefly went in camera to discuss a sensitive issue, but since that portion of the meeting was in camera, I cannot write about it. Afterwards (at the relatively early time of 9:00 pm), the meeting adjourned.

Hopefully this update was of some interest. Since this is my first council update, I’m looking for feedback on how to improve. For instance, is my writing style too wordy? Does my writing assume a prior knowledge of the AMS on the part of the reader (hopefully not). Anyways let me know what can be done to improve this blog, and let all of your arts reps know what they can do in the future to continue to improve the AMS.

The Arts Caucus will be back soon with more updates.

Best regards,


June 9, 2009 at 4:00 pm 2 comments

AMS Committee Vacancies

Hello blogoland I’m just sending out a message to let you guys know that there a number of AMS Committees that will be filled at our meeting this Wednesday. Specifically, the following committees have vacancies.

Business Operations Commitee (Guillaume sits on this one)
Appointments Review Committee
Human Resources Position Committee (to hire a Human Resources Director for the AMS)
Fundraising and Sponsorship Committee (In my experience this committee never meets, but you could always try to change that).
Campus Planning and Development Committee (I’ve heard good things about this one)
Ad-Hoc Executive Remuneration Committee

If you would like to sit on any of these committees you can come to the meeting at 6pm in SUB Room 206 (Council Chambers). Alternatively, you can submit a brief writeup to me ( or any of the other AMS Reps, and the writeup will be read on your behalf.

Thanks for your interest,


May 26, 2009 at 4:48 pm Leave a comment

The ACF Vote in Retrospect

The ACF vote has come and gone, and we won. It was a great moment, one that two successive caucuses of the AUS had been working towards, and it was exciting be be a part of it. The final tallies are out now, and we can see who voted for and against the motion, and why.

AYE: 23

Blake Frederick – President
Johannes Rebane – VP Academic
Crystal Hon – VP Administration
Timothy Chu – VP External
Will Davis – Arts
Guillaume Houle – Arts
Matthew Naylor – Arts
Carolee Changfoot – Arts
Kyle Warwick – Arts
Mike Silley – Arts
Jeremy McElroy – Arts
Elena Kusaka – Arts

Bijan Ahmadian – BoG
Laura Silvester – Commerce
Ekaterina Dovjenko – Commerce
Tony Yang – Grads
Heather Kharouba (proxy for Hannes Dempewolf) – Grads
Aaron Sihota – Science
Jimmy Yan – Science
Jeremy Wood (proxy for Maria Cirstea) – Science
Tahara Bhate – Science
Iggy Rodriguez (proxy for Justin Yang) – Science
Geoff Costeloe – Senate

NAY: 7

Tom Dvorak – VP Finance
Lin Watt – Engineering
Andrew Carne – Engineering
Madeline Schaefer – Engineering
Helen Kim (proxy for Fraser Young)
Sam Law
Joel Mertens – Senate

What I find interesting is how clearly this broke down along caucus lines, with the only two having any type of split being the Executive (more on this later), and the Student Senate Caucus, which you could reasonably consider to not be a split, because each of the two reps voted with their constituencies. I found incredibly frustrating the two of the Nay vote, those of Tom Dvorak and Andrew Carne, both of whom had signed the ACF Pledge during the election, and subsequently reneged on this promise. I can understand somewhat in the case of Andrew, as he didn’t actually win the election that he signed the pledge for, and while I take it under advisement that the tactics used might not have been the gentlest, this was not a time for gentle tactics – the AUS was in ruins – and we didn’t have the luxury of being able to, as was so eloquently put during the meeting “eat it”.

Tom is a bit of a different story, as he actually won. He didn’t have to sign the Pledge, and, looking at campaign exposure, he probably could have won anyway. It makes me incredibly angry that when someone makes a commitment in exchange for something, they could have the gall to later renege. However, as rageful as this can make me, the motion passed, and the Nay votes of people we had been counting on ended up being meaningless. There remains important work to be done, and we need to keep on working towards meaningful progress towards these goals. My (and not presuming to speak for some of the rest of the Arts Caucus) protest vote against the prelimary budget was done out of displeasure, but also while knowing that there was no chance that the small amount of dissent was going to jeopardize passage.

The one remaining thing that I want to clear up was about the Agenda time motion. There is some backstory behind this which ends up being fairly unimportant in the long run, but suffice it to say it was not designed to be an attack on Blake. The wording came more from slogging through a weekend of policy resolutions, and using language in similar terms. I want to be clear that I actually think that Blake, of the Presidents that I’ve had the oppertunity to work with at the AMS, has done by far the best job, barring a small hiccup or two, of reaching out to Council and engaging them. Whether or not he will be able to match up with the best President, Mr. Duncan, remains to be seen, but he certainly has potential.

That being said, every government, however well intentioned and competent, needs an opposition – BC from 2001-2005 taught us that – and so I’m going to keep holding the Executive’s feet to the fire. The AMS’s Loyal Opposition, as it were. And I’ll keep pressing to make this a productive year, with a revitalized AUS and a student centred campus and student society. I won’t personally be at the meeting tomorrow, as I am still in Calgary recovering from jaw surgery, but I look forward to my Caucusmates recallings.

Many Regards,


May 26, 2009 at 11:44 am 3 comments

Arts County Fair Debt Repaid!

At the recent AMS Council meeting, Council voted to restore the funds taken from the AUS for the debt accumulated from Arts County Fairs past. Over the past year, the AUS had been crippled by budgetary shortfalls and was unable to fund its clubs effectively.

The $35,062.04 debt, which had originally been applied to the AUS in early 2008, was restored to the AUS by a two thirds resolution of Council. For more coverage, see the Ubyssey or UBC Insiders.

AUS President Guillaume Houle sent out the following message following the repayment of the debt:

Well it is now official, the debt that the AUS was dragging on from the Arts County Fair has now been forgiven by AMS council on last wednesday night. While this motion passed with the approval of more than two thirds of council, it was an uphill battle to rally support for an honest cause that had many members of both the AUS and AMS council working overtime. Indeed, on behalf of the Arts Undergrad Society council, I would like to thank everyone who put their time and efforts into making this motion a reality which ultimately ended on a positive note last Wednesday night.
Having never been to Arts County Fair myself, I was happily surprised to see how feverishly individuals were acting with regards to the passing of the motion. Indeed, this project which started last February with the ACF pledge signings orchestrated during the AMS elections by Matthew Naylor and ended by a masterful presentation to council on wednesday by last year’s AUS President, Avneet Johal, surely showed how important ACF was to every single students at UBC. Needless to say, this rousing support gives the recently elected 2009-2010 AUS executive a strong mandate to start marching towards organizing the next episode of ACF…

Guillaume Houle
Arts Undergraduate Society

The full roll call vote will be posted here later.

May 17, 2009 at 5:48 pm 4 comments