AMS Elections 2024//

Candidate profile: Eshana Bhangu, Board of Governors

Eshana Bhangu is running for a second term on the Board of Governors with a platform centered around improving the overall student experience.

“I'm confident I will be able to make a difference when it comes to things like housing support, mental health support, sense of belonging, affordability, financial aid,” said Bhangu.

Bhangu previously served two years as an AMS executive, as VP academic and university affairs (VP AUA) in 2021/22 and as president in 2022/23. She was also a member of the UBC Vancouver Senate for three years.

Bhangu has accomplished numerous goals over the years, including securing KN95 for students in 2022, but when asked why she chose to run again, Bhangu said “there is more work to be done” on the Board.

She hopes to continue pushing for affordable housing by advocating for an alternative funding model for student housing that would allow UBC to pause annual rent increases without creating a financial downturn.

Currently, only the Student Housing Financing Endowment (STFE) supports the construction of new student housing projects on campus through loans that earn interest. In 2022, the Student Affordability Task Force, which included Bhangu, recommended UBC advocate for the provincial government to loosen the requirement — as the report noted “[STFE] borrowing rates [are] significantly higher than market rates.”

“It is not okay to just continue counting on rent increases, [students are] already struggling a lot … something needs to be changed, on the base level of how we even finance student housing to remove some of that burden from students,” said Bhangu.

Bhangu noted the Board has been receptive to her advocacy in the past year, highlighting that the motion to raise tuition for the 2024/25 academic year had eight votes against it. This was the second time that a tuition motion has received eight votes against it.

“Unfortunately, tuition increases did go through but we did have a significantly larger number of governors voting no. I think that was due to an intentional effort made to present clear arguments and really try to make sure that governors know what's happening on the ground with students,” she said.

Bhangu emphasized her platform is achievable and she would use her position to deliver results, but said she would not provide continuous public updates on her social media like some former governors.

“I believe I'm accessible to the student body. I think at the end of the day, it's just so much more about delivering results than posting on Instagram,” she said. “I think [my platform] is well-informed. I think it's realistic, achievable and it'll make a real impact on the day-to-day lives of UBC students.”

When asked about the Board's lack of acknowledgment of student concerns about UBC’s endowment investments in companies that violated Palestinian human rights, Bhangu said “a lack of acknowledgment and a lack of discussion is just not acceptable.” As VP AUA in 2022, Bhangu abstained from a motion for the AMS to pen a letter urging the university to divest.

Bhangu is running against newcomers Kamil Kanji, Jasper Lorien, Ferdinand Rother, Siddharth Rout, Leonard Wang and Enav Zusman.

This article is part of our 2024 AMS Elections coverage. Follow us at @UbysseyNews on X (formerly Twitter) and follow our election coverage starting February 27.