This is part 7 of my ELECTION SELECTIONS. This race is not Condorcet – you just pick your top 5 choices (regardless of overall preference). Nonetheless, I’ve ranked the candidates.
Reminder: the Senate is responsible for all things academic, which is important at a university.
#1: Justin Yang
An incumbent with a real platform. He’s concerned with the rigidness of academic programs (understandably, coming from his dual degree program). This is a current issue and an important one at a university that is leader is progressive interdisciplinary education. Moreover, although rightly concerned about the checks & balances on teaching, unlike some of his competitors Yang is focused on getting tangible amendments to the system (like publicly releasing student evaluations) rather than looking at reinventing the wheel without design. I’m not usually comfortable with a candidate taking on the responsibilities of both an executive position and a Senate position but Yang seems to have no interest in living a long life and has been on the Senate and mediated numerous other responsibilities effectively previously.
#2: Thomas Brennan
Brennan knows what the position is capable of. Ensuring exams are scheduled as early as possible is entirely possible and would be extremely welcome by a variety of students. If all he did was that, I’d consider it a successful term. He knows who’s responsible for what among UBC’s governance and is committed to getting something tangible done that no one else is talking about.
#3: Spencer Rasmussen
An incumbent hungry to continue his work, Rasmussen has proven himself adept in contributing to the Senate. He’s right that there’s currently insufficient incentives for professors to focus on teaching but he’s wrong about TAs having insufficient resources. As a TA, I am frequently inundated by emails regarding TAing skills and have yet to encounter a colleague who feels underqualified to be a TA. In that regard, TAs need more flexibility in the courses they can TA given the interdisciplinarity of many grad students backgrounds. He’s a strong voice but lacks some perspective at times. But, we elect five at-large representatives because every student doesn’t have all the perspectives.
#4: Ryan Bredin
Bredin has a simple platform. He wants to make sustainability a priority but really Senate is not the best place to do this and he suggests no methods to develop this. His focus on increasing undergraduate research is dead on the money regarding how it improves UBC’s research excellence. But, his idea to get instructors to attend seminars to hone their skills is a waste of time. It’ll be received by enormous opposition among faculty and the real key is to hire faculty that solely teach which UBC is uncomfortable doing.
#5: AJ Hajir Hajian
Hajian criticizes the amount of bureaucracy to change curricula but realistically it’s completely necessary to have those safeguards in regard to academics. There are areas of approved flexibility such as student-directed seminars but there needs to be mechanisms to ensure that any changes to a curriculum have been thoroughly evaluated.
#6: Imran Habib
As much as I enjoyed deriding the bio Habib submitted for the AMS Elections website, I don’t actually think he’s mentally retarded. Regardless, he’s interested in developing student feedback of professors (i.e he noticed how popular Ratemyprof.com is). This may be true but Carl Weiman’s Science Education Initiative is already working on this. Whether the results can be generalized is another issue or whether analogous inspection of other academic programs is required is a worthwhile pursuit though. Besides that, his platform has been mostly highlighting that he’s hard-working and interested in the issues. But, he’s been all over the place with those issues. For instance he’s stated that the “three percent increase in admission average is a step in the right direction” but also argues that the “raised entrance average solution needs to be critiqued.” The Senate demands being open to different ideas but making opposing arguments is a bit much.
#7: Matthew Campbell
Campbell seems to be genuinely interested but doesn’t have much of a campaign in terms of exposure or platform. If we just want a variety of representative perspectives on Senate, why don’t we just have a mandatory lottery for the seats? He does want to increase student’s awareness of academic issues but really, students are inherently aware of the issues though perhaps not the options. That would be your job.
#8: Eric DiStefano
He hasn’t been available to any campus media and didn’t attend the first all-candidates forum. He may have good ideas but that kind of work ethic with his campaign prevents me from considering him adequate.
And don’t forget to vote for UBC Vanguard in this elections’ Voter Funded Media competition at the end of your ballot!