VP external candidates couldn’t help but agree at yesterday's debate

The Great Debate saw VP external candidates, Ayesha Irfan and Jake Sawatzky, agree on advocating for affordability and housing, but differences in experiences were notable.

Both candidates were aligned in wanting to engage students in the provincial election this year.

Sawatzky said he would want to run “advocacy campaigns for getting [students] out to vote.”

“Reaching out to these candidates to see if they would be available to come in and meet the UBC population” is a priority for Sawatzky.

Irfan said, “I would love to hold a mingle up in the Gallery … with MLA candidates and premier candidates.”

Later in the debate when commenting on the Ministry of Post-Secondary Education & Future Skills recently resigning and how they would keep advocacy continuing despite changes in office, Irfan showcased her knowledge in government functions.

She said she would work to maintain relationships with the staff under the Minister's portfolio.

“The real people doing the job are the Chief of Staff, the policy analysts, the people you are bugging and annoying to have meetings with the minister.”

Sawatzky did advocated for proactive outreach with the government.

On the topic of the GSS (Graduate Student Society) and how they would advocate for graduate students as undergrads, Irfan said she would work with the GSS VP External “to make sure that we are in line with their lobbying priorities.”

“A huge piece on my student financial aid platform point is work with the GSS to ensure that the BC graduate scholarship includes non STEM disciplines,” stressed Irfan.

Sawatzky echoed Irfan's comments, though he seemed to have knowledge gaps around the AMS VP External’s relationship with the GSS.

Sawatzky proposed a new advocacy priority on climate, suggesting “more job placements, such as Co-Ops and internships within the [clean energy] is something that government can really focus on to make sure that this is sustainable throughout years to come.”

Irfan commented on wanting to increase the BC Access Grant by “lobbying the government to see where we can make space in the budget to make sure students can actually pay for university.”

The debate ended with a question from The Ubyssey Humor section: What is your favourite bus?

Sawatzky’s favorite bus is the 351 double decker bus in his hometown Surrey, and said he's a fan of fake-driving the bus from the top seats. Irfan said “my favourite bus is the Skytrain to UBC, let's get that shit built!”

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.