AMS VP finance by-election candidate profile: The Arts Student Centre

The Arts Student Centre (ASC), a multimillion-dollar building on campus, is running to be the next AMS VP finance on a platform based on communication, financial transparency and increased support for student involvement in clubs.

While the trash-can-like building has much to bring to the table, the ASC gave generous credit to its representative Mathew Ho.

“What sets us apart is bringing in Mathew’s experience as the former [Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS)] VP finance, … and being around on AMS Council and all that,” it said.

The ASC also said it would learn from “approaches that have been taken in the AUS,” which it has witnessed firsthand as home to all of the AUS’s running operations.

As the central space for an undergraduate student society, the ASC encouraged greater student involvement in clubs and other initiatives on campus, noting that finances could often be a barrier to student participation in extracurricular activities.

It appreciated previous efforts towards supporting student involvement, such as the Club Membership Fee Subsidy, but believes that this can be “brought a lot further,” especially since “sometimes costs [of a club] aren’t necessarily reflected in the membership fees.”

However, it did not detail how it planned to increase financial support to this end.

The ASC also proposed putting feedback mechanisms in place to assess clubs’ cost and use of benefits in order to improve long-term, sustainable fund planning.

On communications, one specific goal the ASC highlighted was creating a more streamlined process for student reimbursements, and identifying resources for effective communication and support during the reimbursement process.

If elected, the ASC also hopes to improve the AMS’s financial transparency and increase access to financial information for the general student body. “Students have been critiquing [transparency] for years,” it said.

A major challenge the ASC foresees is balancing everyone’s needs.

“Cutting services wouldn’t be popular, increasing [student fees] wouldn’t be popular … it’s about [meeting] the expectations of everyone,” it said.

It did not explain how exactly it would respond to these hurdles, stating that “it’s a challenge.” Nonetheless, it said it hopes to prioritize financial sustainability in the first step to addressing different student needs.

The recent changes in mental health coverage are one example of the ASC’s focus on sustainability. While the ASC appreciates the increase from $1,000 to $1,250, and the action taken by the AMS after student frustration, it also hopes that this increase will not cause rapid depletion of the Health and Dental Fund reserve.

“Students struggling with mental health should not be having their challenges further compounded by financial difficulties … without elaboration on where the costs are coming from … the ASC finds it difficult to assess the long term sustainability.”

The ASC is running against AMS Strategy and Governance Lead Kamil Kanji and Associate VP Funds Lawrence Liu.