AMS VP finance by-election candidate profile: Kamil Kanji

Kamil Kanji is running to become the next AMS VP finance on a platform to increase efficiency and promote transparency within the AMS.

Kanji, a third-year honours political science and international relations student, said he has extensive experience with the AMS. He currently works as the AMS strategy and governance lead and one of five UBC student senators-at-large.

He said his campaign is centred on three priorities: improving public constituencies, increasing health and dental coverage and deficit management.

One of the biggest complaints against the AMS, according to Kanji, revolves around the student society’s lack of support for constituencies like the Arts or Science Undergraduate Society. In order to combat this, he said he hopes to “utilize a new financial system” which digitizes AMS bank accounts and reimbursement processes for increased efficiency.

The AMS is currently transitioning to this new system, but Kanji said he will supplement this by hosting frequent workshops related to effective financial management for constituencies.

Kanji also said he wants to improve multiple facets of the AMS/GSS Health & Dental Plan, ranging from increased mental health resources to expanding access to gender-affirming care.

“That includes therapy, laser hair removal and other surgical procedures that might not be approved by Trans Care,” he explained.

He added that he will advocate for dental coverage to increase from 80 to 100 per cent. Studentcare can currently cover up to 90 per cent of preventative dental care services.

Kanji celebrated the AMS’s announcement of a $250 increase in mental health coverage last week, but stressed the student society needed to find a way to sustain it. In his interview — which occurred before the increase — he said he wants to explore and secure “a funding partnership with UBC,” to aid with expanding coverage, something that he has not seen be pursued by previous VP finances.

In terms of deficit management, Kanji said he will take a “four-pronged approach,” including budget balancing, expenditure management, increased business contributions and cuts to unnecessary AMS hirings.

Within the sphere of student concerns, he sees affordability as the “most pressing issue for students,” citing food insecurity.

“We’ve seen in that last year that the university has pulled its contributions to the AMS Food Bank by quite significant numbers,” he said. With thousands of students visiting the Food Bank every year, Kanji hopes to collaborate with the AMS president and the VP academic and university affairs to increase secure funding.

Kanji said he plans to publicize the work that the AMS has done through social media and direct engagement so students can see the “value of where their fees are going.”

“Whether that be the Club Benefit Fund, Sustainability Project Fund or Initiatives Fund,” he plans on publishing information that tracks progress and encourages open discussion.

Kanji said he hopes to translate his passion for finance into the role of a VP and “take a forefront on addressing the needs of students.

“Finance has been something I’ve been doing with the AMS since my first year,” he said, alluding to his time working on the Finance Committee.

Kanji is running against Associate VP Funds Lawrence Liu and the Arts Student Centre (represented by Mathew Ho).

This article was updated on September 27, 2022 at 4:22 p.m. to include a clarification on Studentcare dental coverage.