Candidate profile: Kareem Hassib, Board of Governors

First-year arts student Kareem Hassib is running for one of two UBC Vancouver student seats on the Board of Governors (BoG) on a platform of affordability, climate action and accountability.

Hassib supports freezing tuition and rent, funding food security initiatives and increasing student worker wages. If elected, he said he plans to lobby the university to increase health care funding for the AMS, specifically mentioning the need for gender-affirming care. Currently, the AMS/GSS Health & Dental Plan is paid for entirely by students.

Hassib lacks student governance experience, but said he believes his political experience and convictions make up for it.

“I'm a very strong-willed person who has the values to really try and uplift people who have been shut out of the conversation when it comes to the way their university operates.”

He said he’s been involved in politics for three years through several roles with the NDP. He first served on the executive for Nanaimo MLA Sheila Malcolmson in 2022 and now sits on the executive committee for Ladysmith MP Lisa Marie Barronson. He also serves in a leadership role in the NDP club at UBC.

“I think a lot of systems in our country, in our communities, are broken and don't work for people which stems from the structure of neoliberal capitalism.”

The central problem he identified with the current BoG is a lack of transparency and community engagement.

“There should be some sort of continuous updates on what the Board of Governors is up to because students deserve to know what's happening,” he said. “I'll probably post on my own personal social media and maybe a push for some sort of student caucus social media.”

As a prospective urban studies major, he said affordable housing development on campus is a central priority, pointing out the “urban sprawl” in the neighborhoods surrounding UBC.

“I would push to increase student housing units and try to slow or put a stop to private development.” He did not specify how he plans to accomplish this goal.

If elected, Hassib hopes to serve on the Sustainability & Climate Action Committee. He said he would pressure the university to divest its finances “from corporations and banks that profit from climate change,” and reinvest in cooperative economic development through credit unions like Vancity.

He is also interested in the Indigenous Engagement Committee, although acknowledged that as a settler, his ability to represent Indigenous perspectives is limited.

“I wouldn't be able to change a whole lot on my own volition, but I will try to get a lot of Indigenous voices at the table.” He did not say how he would do this.

Another ambitious policy goal included establishing term limits on BoG members to increase representation and turnover.

Imposing term limits would require amending the University Act — a provincial law that outlines the membership and function of boards at post-secondary institutions.

During debates, Hassib showed passion for getting his priorities passed, but displayed some gaps in knowledge around certain policies and functions of the Board.

Hassib is running against AMS President Eshana Bhangu and first-time candidates Onyekachukwu Odenigbo, Sultana Raiza and Leonard Wang.

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