Candidate profile: Tate Kaufman, president

Tate Kaufman is running for president on a platform focused on slashing COVID-19 restrictions, cutting AMS “frills” and increasing the accessibility of resources to students.

“It’s time to end COVID[-19] measures. I understand that some people have personal health concerns and that some students who don’t have health concerns want stuff to stay online or hybridized,” said Kaufman. “UBC is an in-person school, always has been, always should be, always should have been.”

Before UBC discontinued its rapid testing program and vaccine declaration policy, Kaufman said he wanted to advocate against UBC’s COVID-19 rapid testing program for people who are unvaccinated or chose not to declare their status.

In a follow-up message to The Ubyssey, Kaufman said he would now shift his focus to making classes fully in-person and advocating to remove all COVID-19 measures by fall — many of which are outside of the AMS's power.

Kaufman criticized President Cole Evans and VP Academic and University Affairs Eshana Bhangu for “going after students who are unvaccinated [and] advocating for those students to be deregistered.”

UBC Vancouver Senate passed a motion late last year that made deregistration a consequence for students who didn’t comply with the university’s vaccine declaration policy. Evans is not a student senator while Bhangu is.

Kaufman said he would address what he called the AMS’s “frill” expenses like having free food at Council, yearly executive retreats and the Dress Up for Drama event held by AMS Elections.

“These are all dollar bills coming out of students’ pockets that could be spent on other things,” said Kaufman.

Additionally, rather than increasing the number of resources available for international students, students of colour and low-income students, Kaufman wants to make the existing resources more accessible.

“One of the major things that really needs to be worked on is having a simple, easy to access, outreach and information program making sure students know the financial resources they have access to and making sure that we get lots of students applying for those things,” said Kaufman.

On his involvement with UBC Students For Freedom of Expression (SFE), a student group that’s been criticized heavily for inviting far-right speakers to campus, Kaufman said he believes in academic freedom.

“I believe that every student who is at UBC and indeed many incoming students to UBC deserve a place on campus and they deserve safety from physical violence and from harassment,” Kaufman said. “I would say inviting speakers to campus and having an open university dialogue, so long as that dialogue remains respectful, is not an infringement on safety.”

Most recently, the university canceled an SFE event featuring Lauren Southern, a Canadian far-right pundit.

If elected, Kaufman would resign from the SFE.

“I view my role with the SFE as bringing the most controversial speakers to campus to make sure freedom of expression remains. I still believe very much in the academic freedom statements, and my tenure as president would see me defend that deeply. But it's also no longer my role to stir the pot so to speak,” Kaufman said.

Kaufman is running against AMS execs Eshana Bhangu and Saad Shoaib, newcomers Sydney Harakal and Wesley Choi and joke candidates The Pan and Remy the Rat.

Follow us at @UbysseyNews on Twitter and follow our election coverage starting February 28. This article is part of our 2022 AMS elections coverage.