Platforms, fact checked: Breaking down the 2023 AMS Elections candidates' claims

Candidates say a lot of things during AMS Elections — numbers, figures, claims and more.
Candidates say a lot of things during AMS Elections — numbers, figures, claims and more. The Ubyssey

Candidates say a lot of things during AMS Elections — numbers, figures, claims and more.

It can be hard to hear or understand everything that is said, but that's why we at The Ubyssey have a team dedicated to fact-checking all the big claims candidates make during the campaign.

Here we're covering major platform points from candidates in every race — president, VP academic and university affairs (VPAUA), VP administration, VP external, VP finance, Senate and the Board of Governors.

We didn't cover everything, but hopefully this gives you a clearer idea on what candidates’ platforms are saying — and how much of it is true.


ChatGPT, Ben Du and Remy the Rat/Esmé Decker are running for President. ChatGPT has not released a platform as of March 9.

Du: “The current 30-Year Draft as a part of the Campus Vision 2050 process envisions increasing the number of beds from 14,000 currently to 17,300 by the mid 2030s. The AMS will advocate for a more aggressive target of at least 20,000 beds by 2035.”

True. The Campus Vision 2050’s 30-Year Draft proposes many changes to first-year and upper-year residences (Place Vanier, Totem Park, Marine Drive and Fairview) to increase 3,300 beds on campus.

Du: “To ensure the safety and wellbeing of students that identify as transgender, we will evaluate the addition of gender-affirming care to the core coverage of the AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan for the 2023-2024 Policy Year.”

Noted. There are two referendums regarding the AMS/GSS Health & Dental Plan coverage. Students can vote for an $8 increase to the plan to provide gender-affirming coverage for all students. This referendum is contingent on students agreeing to the $52.50 referendum to maintain current levels of healthcare coverage. In a statement to The Ubyssey, Du said he voted ‘no’ to combine these two referenda, going against Trans students’ wishes.

Du: “Embark on creating a space in the Nest [for BIPOC students] run by professionals with employment opportunities for students, ultimately ensuring that these spaces are student-centered and student-led. We will take a community approach encompassing internal and external stakeholders through consultation, ensuring information is gathered ethically with appropriate compensation. This is in support of Recommendation 41 of the UBC Task Force on Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence.”

True and noted. Du’s platform point does reflect recommendation 41 of The President’s Task Force on Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence Final Report. This recommendation aims to create “diverse spaces on both campuses” for “IBPOC communities … to provide support and resources for students, staff and faculty.”

Remy/Decker: “Publicly displaying AMS meeting schedules/times that are open to all students on banners in the Nest and pinned posts on social media.”

Noted. Currently, the AMS does not publicize its bi-weekly AMS Council meetings in the Nest or on social media. Students can find information about AMS Council on its website.

Remy/Decker: “Address transparency by-laws in AMS policy.”

Noted. In October 2022, the AMS set a vote on a motion to revise its Records Policy (SR2) that, if passed, would mean members of the AMS, like students, could not request access to internal correspondence, transition reports or raw data (data collected by or for the AMS).

The AMS pulled the motion from the Council agenda and sent it back to the Governance Committee for review before the meeting.

Remy/Decker: “Advocate for UBC to mandate gender-affirming care provider training to Student Health Service doctors, to increase the number of providers trained and willing to provide this care to hundreds of trans, two-spirit, and gender diverse students, and to reduce wait times for appointments.”

Noted. Student Health Services hired a primary care provider with extra training in gender-affirming care in late 2021. According to July 2022 Ubyssey coverage, there is only one healthcare practitioner trained to provide gender-affirming care.

VP Academic & University Affairs

Kamil Kanji is running uncontested for VPAUA.

Kanji: “Ensure the University commits to [Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)] principles as a framework for responsible investment in order to give UBC the legitimacy to divest from companies that commit human rights violations.”

Noted. In March 2022, Kanji moved a motion to get the AMS to urge UBC and the Board of Governors to divest from nine companies complicit in Palestinian human rights violations. The motion was proposed to the AMS Advocacy Committee by a coalition of 20 student groups including Students for Palestinian Human Rights, Social Justice Centre and Independent Jewish Voices. This motion passed, but was unsuccessful in getting UBC to divest from these companies.

Kanji: “Work with UBC Wellbeing and AMS Peer Support to provide physical and sexual harm-reduction kits and workshops.”

Noted. UBC Wellbeing and AMS Peer Support already provide some physical and sexual harm-reduction resources and workshops, like safe-sex supplies and fentanyl test strips. Kanji does not include other mention of sexual violence prevention and policy, despite the VP AUA’s role in policy revision, including UBC’s sexual misconduct policy, SC17, and the AMS’s sexualized violence policy, PC2.

Kamil: “Increase the number of accessibility advisors to match the ratio that other universities in Canada have while also having fewer barriers to accessing accommodations and concessions through the [Centre for Accessibility] or advising offices.”

Hard to verify. Though the number of accessibility advisors across universities is difficult to verify, students have said that getting accommodations through the Center for Accessibility is difficult since disability accommodations at UBC stem from Policy LR7, which states that in order for students to get accommodations, students must have current documentation.

VP Administration

Anuoluwapo Awotunde, Ian Caguiat, Anvi Kumar, Chayan Lu and Jake Sawatzky are running for VP admin. Awotunde, Kumar and Lu have not posted a platform as of March 9.

Caguiat: “As Referendum Coordinator in 2022, I was responsible for engaging with the campus community in conversation about the positive aspects of the referendums. Last election, we passed 3 out of 3 referendum questions, one of which was the permanent increase in funding for the [Sexual Assault Support Centre (SASC)].”

Noted, though potentially misleading. The AMS opted not to endorse the Bike Kitchen referendum in 2022, and the referendum ultimately failed due to not reaching the eight per cent threshold. The AMS is officially encouraging students to vote ‘yes’ to the Bike Kitchen’s referendum this year.

Sawatzky: “Focus on making Pie R Squared a usable space through reopening or changing the space based on student consultation.”

Noted. AMS Council approved $695,000 in funding in November 2022 to renovate Pie R Squared to provide a larger storefront and seating area for Blue Chip Cafe. A Mediterranean food outlet is set to replace the current Blue Chip location by the end of April.

VP External

Tina Tong is running uncontested for VP external.

Tong: “In 2022, the AMS Food Bank funding was cut by over 60%, and yet there was a 500% increase in visits from students compared to pre-pandemic years.”

Essentially true. AMS Food Bank funding from UBC was slated to drop from $90,000 in 2021 to $25,000 in 2022, a roughly 70 per cent decrease. Then-President Santa Ono later announced an extra $425,000 towards food security programs at UBC Vancouver in October — $145,000 of which went to the AMS Food Bank. There has been a 500 per cent increase in food bank visits compared to pre-pandemic levels as of April 2022, and usage for this academic year is projected to more than double against 2021/22 levels.

Tong: “I plan to lobby the Ministry of Advanced Education to fund more UBC scholarships for [international students], and strive to partner with local medical clinics, dental offices, and other healthcare services to offer you affordable plans for when you need them.”

Noted. According to UBC, the university and donors fund scholarships. The Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills offers students loans, grants and scholarships outside of the university to BC residents. A previous iteration of the platform stated that Tong would lobby the “British Columbia International Education Ministry” which does not exist.

Tong: “I plan to increase street lights along UBC Highway and Northwest Marine Drive, as well as implement more traffic cameras to discourage intoxicated and unsafe driving.”

Noted. As of February 2023, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure installed a permanent speed reader board where SW Marine Drive becomes NW Marine Drive, at the section where the speed limit drops to 40 km/h. It also added roadside delineators, removed parking spaces where the road goes from four to two lanes, upgraded streetlights to LED lights and added a pedestrian-activated crosswalk at the Cecil Green Park Road crosswalk.

Tong: “I plan to advocate to the BC Provincial Government to get more funding, so we can increase the capacity of our on-campus counseling programs, and execute more urgent counseling services by working with the VP of Academic and University Affairs.”

Noted. The AMS’s counseling services are through AMS Peer Support. UBC counselling services work independent of the AMS.

Tong: “Continue to support the referendum to increase access to pro bono (free legal services) at the UBC SVPRO. Provide survivors with easy access to free legal help and acknowledgement of the difficulty of coming forward.”

False. The UBC Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office (SVPRO) does not offer pro bono legal assistance, but refers students to organizations that provide these services. There is also no SVPRO referendum in this year’s election, and the SVPRO is not an AMS body.

Tong: “Lobby the Provincial Government to increase funding for on-campus student mental health resources … Advocate for finances from NDP’s $1B investment.”

True. In its 2023 budget, the provincial government put aside roughly $1 billion for mental health support.

Tong: “Expand government support by lobbying the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction to fund the AMS Food Bank. In 2022, they funded $2.35 million to Food Banks BC. Ensure food affordability is a top lobbying priority for UCRU and B.C Federation of Students. In 2022, UBC’s allocation in funding to the Food Bank dropped significantly, hence it is extremely important to push for support from the government.”

False. Food Banks BC received around $955,000 from the BC government in 2022; $1.4 million was allocated to a different group, United Way British Columbia, bringing the total allocation to $2.35 million. Tong is partially correct that UBC intended to decrease funding to the AMS Food Bank, though it did not ultimately do so (see above).

VP Finance

Abhi Mishra and Linda Zheng are running for VP finance.

Mishra: “Support students looking to live off campus by collaborating with UBC Housing … Building partnerships with communities to offer affordable housing prices for students”

Noted. This is typically the job of the VPAUA and VP external, rather than the VP finance.

Zheng: “Work with the President to conduct a review of the AMS Indigenous Finance Guidelines to ensure that they are focused upon levitating financial burden/stress.”

Noted. The AMS Indigenous Finance Guidelines was released in October 2022 to lower barriers to financial compensation for Indigenous people and to create a balanced power situation. The document mentions it as a “working” document so it will be continuously worked on.


Romina Hajizadeh, Kareem Hassib, Mathew Ho, Ayesha Irfan, Kamil Kanji, Davey Li and Sultana Razia are running for five student senator-at-large seats on the UBC Vancouver Senate.

Hajizadeh: “Continue and expand collaborations with other student-led and student-facing organizations to demystify and increase of what Senate is (such as our current collaboration with the Ubyssey, Senate Recentred, and our podcast episode with the Student Alumni Council”

Noted. Hajizadeh along with Student Senate Caucus Co-Chair Laia Shpeller collaborated with The Ubyssey’s opinion section to start Senate Recentred, a column written by student senators to break down upcoming Senate meetings, earlier this year. The column originally started in 2018 under the name Relate to Senate, but an article had not been published since November 2019.

Hassib: “Make recording lectures mandatory.”

Noted. Concerns around copyright and privacy have been mentioned by current senators, and challenges with limited recording infrastructure remain.

Hassib: “Set term limits for senators.”

Noted. As rules regarding senate terms are listed under section 36 of the University Act (1996), this would likely require an amendment to the University Act itself.

Ho: “Course information that students can access through commonly used resources such as the SSC remains inconsistent between courses, and often lacking in information.”

Likely True. Although Policy V-130 lays out guidelines for the content and distribution of course syllabi, it does not address the accessibility of course information on the SSC. In fact, the policy encourages instructors to include information regarding class structure “if not available on the [SSC],” implying that some information may be left off the platform at the instructor’s discretion.

Ho: “There is no policy to review and ensure that the quality of education, particularly in terms of UBC related values such as equity, diversity, and academic freedom, in affiliation agreements with other universities.”

True. This was a subject of debate during the Senate’s February 2023 meeting.

Ho: “I hope to push for a review of Co-op programs on campus. Hasn’t been reviewed since 2005. Co-op programs are operated under the Guidelines for Co-operative Education Programs at UBC.”

True. The policy hasn’t been revised since May 2004.

Li: “Out of the 189 buildings on campus, 49 buildings are inaccessible and 50 have no information on accessibility according to the UBC Wayfinding program.”

True, as of July 2020. It doesn’t take into account new buildings/renovations since then (e.g. the Arts Student Centre, MacLeod renewal), however.

Irfan: “Just over the last year, the University of Winnipeg and Lakehead University have mandated that incoming undergraduate students complete an Indigenous degree requirement before graduating.”

Misspoke, but true. The University of Winnipeg introduced a mandatory Indigenous Course Requirement in Fall 2016, following the lead of Lakehead University that same year.

Irfan: “As your senator, I will push for the student caucus to ACTUALLY ensure that committee meeting minutes are updated.”

Noted.This is the job of the Senate Secretary and Clerks.

Razia: “Increase capacity in the courses that are in demand and hard to get in, get it delivered in more number of terms/sessions and more classes”

Noted. This would require collaboration with faculties, departments and the Board of Governors to acquire faculty capacity to carry this out.

Razia: “Review V-200.1 and V-200.2 and increase the amount of financial aid and scholarships for both domestic and international students (international students' scholarships needs to be made widely accessible … why can't be eligible for financial aid?)”

Noted. Bursaries and grants are disbursed by the federal government in conjunction with provinces, not including territories and Quebec. These programs are paid for with domestic taxes and other government revenues. Outside of federal and UBC-specific scholarships, International students may be eligible for emergency financial assistance through their Enrolment Services Advisor, though this is not intended to be a long-term resource.

Kanji: “Develop policies that distribute exclusive research grants for professors, graduate students, or undergraduate students pursuing climate change research”

Noted. While current Senate policy does not explicitly distinguish paths for research grant allocations to specific issues, the Research Excellence Clusters (housed under the VP Research and Innovation portfolio) provide inter-departmental research grants on various issues. At least three clusters funded for the 2022/23 academic year are directly related to climate change, though others may approach issues that intersect with climate change. UBC Sustainability and SEEDS also provide grants for projects led by faculty, staff, or students related to applied climate change research and curricula.

Outside of the Senate, external donors who establish endowments may also set their own terms as to how their funds may be used.

Kanji: “Change Policy V-103 to clarify that no examinations may be held the two weeks prior to the final exam period”

Noted. The policy technically bars all examinations in the two weeks preceding the formal examination periods in December and April, though students have drawn attention to instructors scheduling midterms in the week prior to final exam season.

Board of Governors

Eshana Bhangu, Kareem Hassib, Onyekachukwu Odenigbo, Sultana Razia, and Leonard Wang are running for two student seats on the Board of Governors. Onedigbo and Wang have not posted a platform as of March 9.

Razia: “At UBC, the decision to divest from specific companies or industries would typically be made by the Board's Finance Committee, which is responsible for overseeing the university's investments.”

False. UBC does not invest in individual companies; rather, UBC Investment Management splits UBC’s billions between investment funds who choose stocks, bonds and other investments on its behalf. The university’s efforts towards fossil fuel divestment signal additional nuance and barriers to transparency to come.

The AMS has been pressing UBC to divest, but the Board of Governors has yet to commit to divestment related to human rights violations.

Hassib: “Divest from Israeli apartheid”

Noted. See above.

Hassib: “Pay students workers and research assistants a fair living wage”

Noted. The lowest minimum wage for lab or research assistants is $18.22 per hour, though other UBC workers may make down to the provincial minimum wage of $15.65 per hour. Around $24.08 per hour would constitute a living wage in the Lower Mainland, according to Living Wage for Families BC.

Hassib: “Push for a dense, urbanized campus … increase student housing, stop private development.”

Noted. Although the university does not lead all development on the University Endowment Lands, the UBC Properties Trust receives proceeds from external developer’s land leases and rental income, which are deposited into the TREK endowment fund.

Hassib: “Set term limits for governors.”

Noted. This will likely require a change in the University Act.

Bhangu: “Push UBC to advocate to the province to lift the borrowing moratorium so UBC can externally borrow and implement a rent freeze on student housing, divert the saved funds towards financial aid, and more … Continue to advocate for student housing to be turned into a government business enterprise that could borrow externally.”

Noted. Public universities currently cannot take out external loans or issue bonds to complete projects such as student housing.

Bhangu: “In my various roles, I have successfully advocated for over $1.8 million to be invested in reducing food insecurity on campus over the past two years.”

Likely true, though hard to verify. In terms of new funding, Bhangu has successfully advocated for $1.3 million in additional food security funding that wasn’t previously accounted for within proposed budgets; $840,000 allocated to food security efforts with revenues from the 2021/22 tuition increase, and $425,000 allocated by the President’s Office in October 2022.

In terms of total funding from the university, UBC has allocated at least $1.7 million to food security initiatives at UBC Vancouver across the 2021/22 and 2022/23 academic years, including:

  • $325,000 to the Food Security Initiative for 2022/23
  • $50,000 to the AMS Food Bank from the President’s Office ($25,000 recurring annual stipend)
  • $425,000 to Food Security in October 2022 (mentioned above)
  • $840,000 to Food Security from incremental tuition revenues (mentioned above)
  • $36,000 to Fooood in 2021/22
  • $32,000 to the First Nations House of Learning Hot Lunch Series for 2021/22

Funding amounts for the Food Security Initiative and other faculty or department-led food hubs in 2021/22 are not easily discernible.

Bhangu: “Currently, Policy LR10 ‘Financial Aid Policy” regarding access to UBC, explicitly states that International students are not covered by this policy that assures domestic students that their education will not be interrupted for financial reasons.”


The Ubyssey published an editorial in opposition to the proposed amendments to the AMS’s Records Policy which relates to the society and FIPPA in October 2022.

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