Midterm review: VP Administration Ben Du

Halfway through his term, AMS VP Administration Ben Du has made progress on many of his goals of club communication and support and student community-building, but still has some left unchecked.

One achievement Du said he was especially proud of was this year’s Clubs Fair — a rebrand of the AMS’s Clubs Day.

According to Du, the fair saw 232 individual clubs register, 3 days of live music from 19 student artists, 9 Superdog shows, 6 specialty food trucks and booths from 14 campus partners and 16 external partners.

“We've never seen anything like this. Last year, we saw two big tents and some tables outdoors,” said Du. “This year is kind of an excuse for if a student [wanted] to stay on the plaza for two hours, they could very well do that … It was really this spot for that, to stay rather than just kind of walk by.”

Besides the Clubs Fair, Du has also reopened the Commons space on the lower level of the Nest as an events space for clubs and an informal study space for commuter students. Du and his team have started to create a “framework to guide [their] approach” when it comes to space usage, programming and community building.

Du said his experience as associate VP administration last year “helped tremendously” when it came to knowing the portfolio and its shortcomings.

“Administration is one of the more operational portfolios at the AMS,” said Du. “That means there's a lot of routine action items that need to be completed every year and ideally need to be completed efficiently.”

Last year, while Du was associate VP administration, visual arts students raised concerns about the then-non-operational Hatch Art Gallery. The Hatch has held three exhibitions this academic year and is slated to run five more by the end of April, according to Du.

“There's this notion that to get your art into an art gallery, you have to be this kind of famous artist,” said Du. “[The Hatch is] this one opportunity on campus — and it's a pretty rare opportunity — to have your art just featured in an art gallery with [a] low barrier.”

As he enters the second half of his term, Du wants to focus on internal, subsidiary and student consultation, especially when it comes to the AMS Sustainability Action Plan (ASAP) and CampusBase.

In regards to the ASAP, the administration office is conducting an internal review to see what can be updated in the plan. The AMS has consulted students through a survey and plans to consult the UBC Sustainability Council, Student Environment Centre, Climate Justice UBC and Sprouts, according to Du.

In the past, students have raised privacy concerns with CampusBase after two privacy breaches exposed personal student information in 2020. Currently, Du is looking to complete his goals of solidifying a way to make CampusBase more accessible and user-friendly, either by developing an online help centre or creating an in-house online platform to replace CampusBase, depending on feedback from clubs and an internal review.

Regardless of the choice, Du is expecting to launch the revamp of CampusBase in January 2023.