Brian here. Got my headphones in, the CITR website player thingy on, a fairly full bottle of rum, and I’m ready to blog. Let’s do this!
5:12: So far one news headline, and now a short break. Let’s get to the debate already!
5:14: Moderator pronounced Mike’s name as “Silly”…I could hear laughing in the background.
5:16: Gordon up first. “AMS is in dire straits.” Not only a budget crisis, but a crisis of confidence. Says that most students don’t care about the AMS, and we need to reimagine what a student union can be.
Yeah, okay…but I think all student unions probably have this problem all the time. It’s not like the AMS is particularly bad or good in this respect.
5:17: Ah dammit, my internet connection dropped out and I missed the second half of what Gordon said.
5:18: Mike is up, talking about his experience. He wants to complete the “digitization” of the Student Administrative Commission, because this is the lifeblood of the clubs and most student activity. He also wants to grant funding to clubs based on how active they are.
A pretty good start from Mike, although again, I missed half of Gordon’s opening.
5:19: Kathy Yan Li opens up with a platform of glitter fountains (instead of water fountains) and a no pants rule. Yeah, okay, she’s a joke candidate. It’s settled once and for all!
5:20: First question is on the SUB project. Oh I forgot to make clear in case anyone wasn’t sure: this part of the debate is for the VP Admin position. Obviously.
Mike says he’s confident in the progress that has been made so far.
Kathy focuses on a brew pub. THAT will win her votes.
Gordon is happy with the progress as well. Agrees with Mike that going forward there needs to be a strong student involvement in the process. This all essentially common sense stuff; Mike and Gordon agree on the basics.
5:23: Haha, now Kathy gives a serious answer about how to promote club activities better. MAKE UP YOUR DAMN MIND, KATHY.
5:26: The current question is about balancing the workload between the new SUB and responsibilities with the old SUB. Again, nobody is saying anything too specific or controversial. Except Kathy thinks we should buy military trucks.
5:28: Question now about the relationship between the AMS and clubs. Gord (Gordon? Gord?) calls it disappointing. Calls out Bijan–although that’s pretty easy to do lately. He wants the AMS to do better PR for its clubs and provide them with more resources, and lists a lot of ways he thinks that could happen.
Mike says there’s no campus life because the AMS needs to help students and student life and…it was a little too vague, Gord did better on this question.
5:30: Oooh Gord goes after Mike for focusing too much on digitization. Mike rebuts by saying that there’s too much red tape, and too much time is spent on information input right now. Kathy wants more campus-wide parties.
5:32: And now we break for a Mardi Gras advertisement….BUT IT SAID THAT MARDI GRAS IS IN THE PIT!! It’s in the ballroom! Nooooooo
5:33: Well, the VP Admin debate was about as expected. It’s a hard position to debate, because most student have no clue what the hell Mike is talking about when he says “digitization”–digitize what? But explaining it takes too long. Although digitization does sound like a smart word, at least. Gord did a pretty good job of listing specific things that could happen with the website and club promotion, but for the most part, it was platitudes from both candidates. I sympathize with them; VP Admin is tough to talk about interestingly.
5:35: Alright, VP Academic! Matt Parsons is up first. He’s going for the position because it’s so diverse and affects students in so many ways. He sees the AMS as having a disconnect with the student body. See my comments above with Gordon’s opening. ALL STUDENT SOCIETIES CONSTANTLY HAVE THIS PROBLEM. IT NEVER GETS FIXED.
He names a few specific things…expansion of summer courses, more availability of teacher evaluations, wants a student-wide opinion poll in regard to governance at UBC.
5:37: Jennifer Wang now. She is passionate about student rights, wants the AMS to be an inclusive organization that does a better job of reaching out to the under-represented students. She speaks pretty well. Uh oh…slowing down a bit now…wants to create a “safe space” for students, and that there are confidentiality issues…getting a little too vague. Wants the AMS to be stronger on advocating things with the university, like land use. Jennifer had a really good opening, but it sounded like she stumbled halfway through.
5:40: Justin Yang now. Speaking slowly and clearly. Very passionate about ensuring a student-centric campus. Wants to invigorate the VP Academic portfolio, thinks it needs to take on a bigger role within the society. Talking about replacing Vista (I think) and names a few different organizations on campus that I haven’t heard of, but he came off sounding like Justin usually does: he knows what he’s talking about.
5:42: Second question…about student issues on campus I think, I missed the first part of it. Jennifer focuses on land use policy, sounds like she is pretty negative about how things have gone so far. Justin, for his part, calls aspects of what’s happened so far a huge success and thinks that there is good opportunity there for the future (sorry, I can’t type fast enough to be more specific.) Matt expresses concerns with the process so far, and focuses on the density issue.
5:45: Follow-up: Jennifer brings up the fact that this is unceded territory. We are learning more about her now…seems to be a bit of a Knollie. Justin talks about Gage South and again sounds fairly positive about the outlook for the consultation process. Matt talks about the importance of a grassroots approach to making this “our” campus.
5:46: Third question…GAH this is hard to keep up with. Justin is talking about a study……….blah I couldn’t keep up. Matt is talking about the new housing going in on campus, and again brings up density, seems to be a focus of his. Jennifer “disagrees”, doesn’t think the AMS has been aggressive enough in lobbying for affordable housing. Okay, that’s what this question was about. She names an example where the AMS has settle for too little in zoning.
5:49: Rebuttals…Justin wants to remind everyone that it’s a university, that academics should come before housing, and that its hard to make progress on both fronts equally. Matt agrees with Jennifer that some of the wording on land use policies has been too weak. Jennifer does not believe that the university has the best interests of students at heart. She thinks the AMS needs to do more.
5:51: Wow, that was a hard debate to keep up with. Very dense, all three candidates knew their stuff fairly well, did a pretty good job of speaking about specifics. Jennifer is pissed off with everything, Matt is pissed off with some things but thinks other things have gone well, Justin is focused on the places where good work has been done and where more good work can happen.
5:53: Alright, Finance. Elin versus Arash, some hot Persian on Persian action. Elin is the incumbent; ran against a joke candidate last year. The state of finances last year were terrible, and Elin says they have come a long way. Cut $200,000 in spending, and presented a balanced budget. It generated a lot of backlash, but he says it was a good decision to make. He says we have been relying too much on our businesses, and so to fully address the finances problem we have more work to do.
5:55: Arash names his experience in student involvement. Says that cuts to services are not the answer until we eliminate slush funds and…gah I lost it for a second there, but he says he wants to make the portfolio more transparent. A pretty good opening, but he could have been a bit more specific.
5:56: First question on businesses and their underperformance. Arash says that the HST affected them badly, but we need to reduce our reliance on them for revenue. Elin also points out the high dependence on businesses, and says that the only solution is a fee referendum. Rebuttal: Arash goes after Elin for service cuts, instead of making more cuts we should reassess the situation. Elin says that code prevents us from making more cuts even if we wanted to, and that the fee referendum would help us put more money back into services.
5:59: Second question, on the referendum. Both candidates think the referendum is necessary. Okay, so far both candidates are saying things that they are both going to agree with. The big difference so far is Arash making a few attacks on Elin for what happened over the past year.
6:01: That’s it! We’re out of time. Really CITR? Surely we can extend this another couple of minutes. Anyway, whatever. The debates are over, that got cut off really fast. Elin and Arash are going to have some work to do to differentiate their platforms from each other. This race will probably be defined by Arash attacking Elin’s record, and Elin defending it.
6:10: Okay, I’ve got homework to do. A few final thoughts…
Both Mike and Gordon spoke well during their debate, they both came off as knowledgeable and sincere. It’s such a hard position to debate. For example, maybe digitization is the best thing that could ever happen to SAC, but how are most students supposed to know? This might comedown to which candidate is more likable.
VP Academic is going to be a great race to follow. Matt knew more about it than I thought he was going to. Jennifer was much more lefty and combative than I thought she’d be; she fits in pretty well with the resource group people. IS she a resource group person? Possibly. But Justin just knows this topic so well. I wonder if his more confident, optimistic tone will resonate more with students…or not. Still feel like it’s Justin’s race to lose but I also know him much better than the other two candidates.
VP Finance, as I said above, will essentially come down to how voters feel about Elin’s record. Arash’s strategy is pretty clearly to call Elin out on things that did or didn’t happen in the past year, and Elin’s is to defend the hard choices and progress that was made. Both agree about the need for a referendum, and Elin doesn’t want any more service cuts, so there won’t be much to discuss there.