Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Issue of the Day: Systemic Reform

So, we can't publish tomorrow. And elections are up. So, this post is designed to have a great deal to chew on in our blogging absence.
In short, a few ideas requiring bylaw reforms have been floated this election. If we can amend bylaws for one of them.... why not all? To begin:

AMS Fees Linked to Inflation
Discussed before. Let's do it.

Turnover Change
The UBC AMS is pretty much the only SU in the country that runs its elections in January. The status quo has three major drawbacks:

  1. The summer is useless for getting stuff done, because no students are around. The spring term is useless because it's taken up with elections, lame duckery, and transitions. That leaves only one workable term, the fall, to get anything done and engage students.
  2. It requires execs to take three academic terms off school, instead of two. This limits the pool, and throws a scholastic schedule for a loop.
  3. Elections are in January, when school gets back. People don't know about them, and there's no natural run-up to build momentum.
Change the turnover to May 1, and give execs the summer to get used to the job, and a school year to make a difference.

Exec Re-Organization
President stays the same. Re-purpose the lobbying VPs, creating a VP University Affairs, and a VP External lobbying. That's basically the status quo. Conceptually easy.

The other two are more tricky. I propose a VP Admininstration and Finance, and a VP Student Life. VP Admin takes on the budget, and all renos/property, and questions relating to the physical space and business operations, in conjunction with permanent staff. VP Student Life takes on club administration. But there's a demand for more. This past year I worked on "student life"-y projects with both the VP Finance and the VP Admin, in separate capacities. They would have benefited from a single contact, one person whom I could contact. And create a go-to person, hopefully one with a vision for campus life, club activities, events, First week/Frosh, first-year students... there's just so much the AMS could do!

Council Re-Organization
I realise this is a pipe dream. But I don't care. I see two major issues with Council, as is. The first is that it's arbitrarily representative. There's an underlying assumption that constituency reps are representative of students. But that's just not the case! Students are engaged in their University in zillions of ways, including their undergrad societies. So I propose a student council with reps from residences, Greeks, clubs, resource groups.... yeah, that's less voice for constituencies. But to organize representation on that basis is kind of irrelevant.

The second is to eliminate ex-officio appointments to Council. Buy-in to Council is often a problem, and can be with people whose other, non-Council jobs make them reps to Council. Usually this means undergrad society Presidents, but it varies by group. But we should make sure that students on Council want to be on Council, that they've sought election specifically to that job. Why? Ensures buy-in, and hopefully makes it more likely that they'll get to committees, participate meaningfully, etc.

I realise that the above are fraught with practical improbabilities. But they're all reasonably philosophical in nature... thoughts?