Candidate profile: Wesley Choi, president

Wesley Choi, a third-year student, is running for AMS president on a platform of transparency and student engagement.

Choi frequently talked about removing the “veil” between students and the AMS in an interview with The Ubyssey.

“Between the students and AMS, it's like a veil. You know, you don't really feel their presence.”

Choi said he would increase student engagement by instructing other execs to do their work in common spaces instead of in the AMS’s office, holding AMS Council and the Annual General Meeting (AGM) in public spaces in the Nest and trying to talk to at least one new student each day.

Choi said he would continue to offer incentives for student attendance, but disagreed with the AMS’s current approach to offer VISA gift cards. This year’s AGM failed to meet quorum despite $4,000 worth of prizes.

“I don't really think that's the right move. It's almost like giving cash … it gives off the wrong message to people,” he said.

He also said student affordability, particularly food insecurity, is a priority.

To address this issue, Choi said he wants to create a “big, centralized canteen” — similar to a first-year dining hall — on campus. He said he would either petition UBC or use the Nest to create this space.

As UBC transitions out of the pandemic, Choi hopes to continue fostering a sense of community among students by hosting activities during the first week of the semester or final exams to help students de-stress.

“One of them I propose is going to be renting a bouncy castle in front of the Nest,” he added. “It sounds dumb, but let's be honest … It'd be great. You would totally go on, don’t lie to yourself.”

He said he would also expand the AMS’s reach on social media — but didn’t say how — and send out a bi-weekly or monthly newsletter. The AMS has sent out at least one email to students each month since December 2021.

Choi admitted that his lack of relevant experience was a weak spot, but said he hopes students like that he is “not well established and [a] fresh candidate.”

“I don’t give a damn to the establishment,” he added.

This lack of experience was apparent when Choi couldn’t answer how a strategic plan — which incumbent Cole Evans is working on — would benefit the AMS and students.

Instead, he said he would create an executive-level position to be filled by an Indigenous student. This position would also be solely elected by Indigenous students.

He did not provide concrete steps on how he would create this new executive position. He also didn’t say how he would reach out to Indigenous students to fill and vote on it.

Still, Choi said, “I'm willing to learn and I hope to learn more.”

Choi is running against current AMS execs Eshana Bhangu and Saad Shoaib, newcomers Sydney Harakal and Tate Kaufman and joke candidates The Pan and 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.