Candidate profile : Jake Sawatzky, VP external

Jake Sawatzky is in his final year of behavioral neuroscience and is running to be the next VP external on a platform centred around student wellness and safety, as well as affordability.

Sawatzky comes from a background of mental health advocacy, and is currently the co-president of Drop the Puck for Mental Health. After raising money for the Canadian Mental Health Association, the work with external partners compelled him to get involved in advocacy and politics. He also volunteered as a correspondence volunteer at the MP Vancouver Quadra office.

“I actually really enjoy the communication being the kind of connector between multiple people who might not have ever talked before,” said Sawatzky.

Sawatzky wants to raise awareness on mental health resources like Here2Talk and the UBC Counselling Centre. However, Sawatzky did not specify how he would go about raising awareness.

Sawatzky brought up the idea of a bursary program so students could afford counsellors outside of the UBC’s free counselling services.

“Mental health services are pretty expensive and are not always covered,” he said.

Sawatzky also wants to advocate for sexual violence protection and prevention like advocating to have the Students for Consent Culture’s 11 minimum standards be “concretized” into the AMS’s policy.

On transit, Sawatzky said he would continue to advocate for the Skytrain expansion to UBC. He also said he would work on bringing back the 480 bus.

Sawatsky said he hopes to improve transparency and said he would do this by keeping students updated through both social media and in-person meetings.

“To be able to get out in person on a regular basis to interact with people and get that face to face interaction, I think would be quite helpful,” he said.

On affordability, Sawatzky said he would advocate to get funding from the provincial government for the AMS Food Bank, mentioning the increased usage of the food bank this past year.

Sawatzky also said international student tuition increases should not go above two per cent. Currently international students are not protected by BC’s Tuition Limit Policy and international students saw a three to five per cent increase in tuition for the 2024/25 academic year.

Sawatzky also wants to expand the BC access grant. He said it is important to make sure there is enough affordable housing for students on and off campus and near transit hubs, but did not specify what advocacy he would do to accomplish this.

“Provincial elections … [will] be a big part of what is going on campus [this year],” Sawatzky noted. He said he wants to ensure that students know who is running and what their stances are by having boothing stations and events.

“Students should be able to know who is going to run their province.”

Sawatzky is running for VP external alongside Ayesha Irfan, also a first-time candidate.

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.