Presidential candidates spat over experience at packed Great Debate

Presidential candidates came together for a second time to talk about creating a safe space for marginalized students at Council, the recent rejection of student-petitioned referendums and how they would lead policy updates.

On Wednesday night, AMS Council voted to reject three student petitioned referendums from the ballot — while the referendums included many items, one was specifically called on the AMS ask UBC to divest from companies complicit in the genocide of Palestinians.

Despite these not making the ballot, candidates agreed the referendum would influence their advocacy goals.

Smith said she believes the President’s role is to set the direction for the AMS. “The student body is saying that we need to focus on equity … we need to focus on advocacy,” she said.

“I think it would be really disingenuous to disregard the substance of the referenda just because they didn't meet the procedural requirements,” said Marx.

The Bulldozer added that the referenda were not “worded in a way that [he] personally agreed with,” but would want the AMS to offer a revision process. CK said he agreed with his fellow candidates.

Building off this, candidates were also asked how they would create a safe space for marginalized students, especially after some communities have felt disrespected by Council.

Smith said she would ensure Council remembers they do not know the full extent of everyone's experiences and would want to create a mutual understanding.

Marx said criticism is a show that needs are not being meant and would also ensure they have office hours so students can speak to them directly about concerns.

The Bulldozer cited how he would push for one of his platform goals which is to have a minimum three to four day consultation time with relevant communities before any big policy changes.

CK added he would send surveys to Councillors prior to important votes and incorporate feedback into the proposals.

When asked about how they would deal with the backlog of outdated policies — including the Records Policy (SR2) and the Respectful Workplace and Sexualized Violence policies (PC1 and PC2), the latter two which should pass prior to end of term, but has precedent of not passing.

The Bulldozer said “this is the part of institutional knowledge that I lack,” but would want to have a more “systematic review” process.

CK said any policies under his view will have their revisions completed by the end of the year.

Smith said “policies and legislation are [her] happy place” and would want to ensure students are engaged and informed on what is occurring.

Marx said they would ensure constituencies are consulted with policy updates and also ensure executives are held accountable for their portfolios.

During closing statements, Marx took the opportunity to apologize to CK for the destruction of his campaign signs, by Marx’s previous volunteers who they cut ties with immediately.

“As someone who values honesty and integrity and fairness that doesn't represent what I am,” they said.

CK, with the last word, took the time to dismiss the experience of other candidates and bolster his own platform.

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.