Little new ground broken at repetitive Board of Governors Great Debate

For the second time in two days, Eshana Bhangu, Jasper Lorien and Kamil Kanji gathered to discuss their platforms in the Michael Kingsmill Forum. And, once again, they were not joined by their four fellow candidates — Enav Zusman, Ferdinand Rother, Leonard Wang and Siddharth Rout.

Candidates provided swift and brief answers to questions, choosing to highlight their experience and confidence in their platforms.

Lorien spoke about their experience as a disability advocate at UBC and their commitment to affordability, housing and divestment goals.

Kanji and Bhangu listed their extensive experience in student politics — Kanji as current VP academic and university affairs (AUA) and two term student senator-at-large and Bhangu as former AMS president, VP AUA, three term student senator-at-large and now incumbent student governor.

Bhangu said, if reelected, she wants to push forward the Student Affordability Task Force recommendations.

“I don't think that has gone particularly well and I really want to hold the administration to account and make sure there's more progress on that,” she said when asked about one shortfall this year.

Lorien would prioritize participating in the upcoming policy review of LR7, the Disability Accommodation Policy, and advocate for the “25 per cent of students at UBC who identifies as disabled.”

“It’s really, really important that we get this right because it doesn't happen very often, which is one of the reasons I decided to run to make sure we have the correct voice to advocate for that.”

Kanji highlighted his accomplishments “in a year in which getting student wins shouldn’t be possible” — notably, securing $450,000 in funding for the AMS Food Bank and $500,000 for the AMS/GSS Health & Dental Plan.

Kanji did not include include sexual violence prevention in his goals as VP AUA this year. However, when asked about what clauses to include in SC17, the Sexual Misconduct Policy, he said he is pushing to introduce an anonymous third-party reporting option as part of the policy review committee.

Bhangu added the policy needs to have “significantly clearer” jurisdiction to investigate. Currently, any report must show a “real and substantial connection to UBC.”

All stressed the importance of unity with the UBCO student governor, Bhangu added that the relationship during her term has been “very positive and productive.”

Present candidates also agreed that improving students’ daily lives was more important than communicating frequent updates to students.

“I think it is more important to know what students care about and the issues that they want to see done than spending a lot of effort and communicating the process,” said Lorien.

Kanji added students “elect [governors] to care and to do the work … and [to make] sure that their priorities are at the highest levels.”

When asked about in-camera sessions and transparency, Bhangu said that if concerns are raised about lengthy private meetings, she would push for a review of the Board Meetings Policy (GA8).

Lorien also noted it is important to communicate the reasons for private meetings to ensure students do not think the Board is not “just trying to hide something from them.”

Voting opens March 1 at 8 a.m. and ends at 8 p.m. on March 8.

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.