Candidate profile: Jake Sawatzky, VP administration

Jake Sawatzky, a fourth-year behavioural neuroscience student, is running for VP administration to revive UBC’s campus life following the pandemic and to increase accessibility and awareness of AMS resources.

With a background including experience as an events coordinator at AMS Events, president of the Semiahmoo Peninsula Rotaract Club and as a member on the planning committee for Drop the Puck for Mental Health, Sawatzky hopes to apply his knowledge to the VP administration portfolio to unite the UBC community.

Sawatzky is also an active member of and the philanthropy chairman of the UBC Beta Theta Pi Fraternity.

He said he wants to foster a cohesive club community by encouraging inter-club collaboration, as well as strengthening the support system for AMS clubs.

If elected, Sawatzky said he hopes to leverage his experience in event planning to “help clubs create fun and engaging events for the community.”

Another cornerstone of his campaign revolves around increasing accessibility and awareness of existing resources. Past VP admin candidates have campaigned on increasing communication between AMS and students.

To accomplish this, Sawatzky suggested talking to people in person, engaging with students through surveys, as well as creating social media posts and videos to promote resources.

“I’m a firm believer that the best way to [engage with students] is to [talk] to people face-to-face,” he said.

Sustainability is another one of Sawatzky’s three main platform points — although he did not mention any new or updated sustainability initiatives. Sawatzky said he wants to “keep the momentum going” with UBC’s Climate Action Plan, which is beyond the VP administration portfolio and different from the AMS’s Sustainable Action Plan.

In his interview with The Ubyssey, Sawatzky said that he hoped to “[maintain] the education and conversation surrounding sustainability on campus.”

“I plan on continuing down the path of supporting all of the sustainability initiatives that are occurring,” he said.

When asked about challenges the VP administration portfolio would face in the upcoming year, Sawatzky pointed to the delay in reimbursements, a chronic issue that has afflicted the AMS since at least 2020, stemming from pandemic-related delays. The delay has continued, despite a recent transition to a new financial system.

Although payments fall under the VP finance portfolio, Sawatzky attributes some clubs’ plights to the reimbursement delays.

“One of the reasons that I think clubs have been struggling is not necessarily funding, but timely payments,” he said. “Some people are wondering if they will ever get paid … [P]eople are starting to not want to work with us as much because of this.”

When asked about CampusBase, AMS’s platform for clubs which has not been widely-adopted and has faced numerous privacy issues, Sawatsky suggested a “revamp.”

“I’m not a proponent of redoing it entirely. I think we should work with the systems we’ve got.”

In the meantime, Sawatzky proposed a subsidy for clubs to explore other platforms, “rather than forcing them to use CampusBase.”

During debates, Sawatzky largely agreed with the other candidates, but proposed a few new ideas like partnering with the David Suzuki Foundation on sustainability initiatives.

He is running against Anuoluwapo Awotunde, Ian Caguiat, Anvi Kumar and Chayan Lu in the race for VP admin.

Follow us at @UbysseyNews on Twitter and follow our election coverage starting February 27. This article is part of our 2023 AMS Elections coverage.