Thursday, April 5, 2007

AMS committee appointment results (the interesting ones)

Well, I'm back from the 6-hour 9-minute AMS meeting of tonight*. In this post I'll just list some of the more interesting committee appointment results and relevant comments. A more complete summary of the meeting, and further ruminations about AMS meetings generally will follow in a few hours once I'm fully conscious.

Member-at-large committee seats were filled early in the evening and council-member appointments were later. The same basic procedure was followed: the committees were listed, councilors nominated others or themselves (and members at large could nominate themselves), and if the nominees exceeded the open spots, council voted by ballot. For details about each committee's duties and seats in the AMS code of procedure click here. I've consciously left out a whole slew of the appointments committees.


campus planning & development:
Darren Peets (BoG)
Scott Bernstein (law)
Tristan Markle (science)
Margaret Orlowski (at large)
Peter Rizov (at large)
Matt Filipiak (at large)

This looks like a robust crew. Darren, the walking capus-development ecyclopedia, with Matt, Peter and Tristan should have a diversity of strong voices. I'm particularly excited about Margaret Orlowsky, who made her AMS debut tonight, having never attended a meeting before. She's a keen graduate student that's been involved in the anti U-boulevard petition and not much else, but got interested in the last few months. She showed up, spoke her piece, and will be doing some work in a big way. So kudos.

Stephanie Ryan (arts)
Rob Taddei (education)
Jia Lei (commerce)
Lois Chan (at large)
Justin Stevens (at large)

ad hoc Academic Quality Committee
Jessica (arts)
Lindsay (engineering)
Neal Marks (L & FS)
me! [Maayan Kreitzman] (at large)
Natalie Hillary (at large)

This is a brand-new committee that was just created By VP Academic Brendon Goodmurphy for the general purpose of addressing issues of the quality of the academic experience of students. As GSS president Matt Filipiak (I think it was him) mentioned, it is surprising that no standing committee exists in the AMS to address academic issues. For now, the committee will focus on communicating with the University to leverage the data from the NSSE (in which UBC ranked rock-bottom, plus or minus some dark benthic water layers) to forward the huge concerns regarding quality of learning here at UBC. The president of UBC, Stephen Toope has expressed interest and concern over this, and the issue of student engagement and satisfaction seems to be current and hot at the university levels right now. Not to toot my own horn too hard, but I'm quite optimistic about this committee: we can seize this opportunity to communicate to the university exactly what we students are on about, from class sizes, to enrichment of teaching skills, to course evaluations, and so on.

One more note: Natalie Hilary also popped her AMS cherry tonight. She seems super keen, and I look forward to working with her.

ad hoc Lobbying Review
Tahara Bhate (science), chair
Sam Heppell (arts)
Darren Peets (BoG)

This appointment race yielded perhaps the most dramatic moment of the evening. The Lobbying Review committee was an initiative of 04/05 president Amina Rai to create a guiding policy group to for determining lobbying policy; originally they were evaluating the pros and cons of being in CASA. Now it's a general lobbying policy committee. According to some people, it now functions as a counterweight to the External Commission, which is appointed by the VP-external. It is not chaired by the VP External. Clearly, political types go for this position. Notably, both Tristan Markle and Nathan Crompton, (both perceivedly "radical" left-wing activists and Knoll-contributors) threw their hats in, and failed to win. Crompton, in his motivation, made a particularly unsavory sling at VP external Matthew Naylor, saying that it would be particularly important to elect him, as a representative of an alternative viewpoint since the current VP External was ineffective due to his involvement in party politics. (Matthew has campaigned for the federal Liberals). Though the evaluation of councilors in regard to their personal politics is valid, and should have a venue on council, this was not an appropriate time to air it. Alienating the executive whose portfolio the committee you are proposing to join concerns is impractical, not to mention divisive. It is certainly possible to express diverse opinions about lobbying issues (which is what this is all supposed to come down to) directly without irrelevant personal targeting. Crompton's further comment that it was "not personal" I found disingenuos and strange. Anyhow, the tactic didn't pay off. Interesting to note in this context is Sam Heppell's rigorous involvement as the president of the the UBC NDP club. I have not heard any complaints about this. Basically, this, or any, committee is not free of partisanship, nor should it be. Lets recognize that and not privilege some ideological affiliations (be they political parties or otherwise) over others.

Communication Planning Group
Jeff Friedrich, (AMS president), chair
Ryan Corbett (invited at the discretion of the chair)
Andrew Forshner (arts)
Conor Topley (commerce)
Alex Lougheed (science)

This should be interesting. This is the only committee chaired by the president. It is dealing with large issues of the AMS's visibility and communication with students, an issue whose shortcomings have been much lamented on this blog and elsewhere. The committee is going to think about possibly re-branding the AMS, as well as using available venues and technology to better reach John Q. They'll be working with Allison, the newly-hired Communications Manager. Corbett, though he will no longer be a member of council after the arts representatives turn over (between now and next meeting) was invited at the discretion of the chair to continue in the Group due to his "valuable insights" this year. There are no member-at-large seats in the Group. Lets hope for some strong results!

Code & Policy
Scott Bernstein (law), chair
Sam Heppell (arts)
Alex Lougheed (science)
Jason (GSS)
....... (at large)
....... (at large)

Sam Heppel (arts), chair
Jason (GSS)
Alex Lougheed (science)
Scott Bernstein (law)
Conor Topley (commerce)

Notice that the Code & Policies committee, and Oversight committee members are one and the same (except for Conor). It has been highlighted to me that modes (or maybe molds?) exist within the council, that members fall comfortably into, because they fit. Not a bad thing, just an observation.

Buisness Operations Committee
Tahara Bhate (science)
Connor Topley (commerce)
Aidha Sheikh (GSS)
Colin Simkus (at large)

Neal Marks (L & FS)
Joel Koczwarski (arts)
Omid Javadi (engineering)

A few more orphan comments:

  • There has be consternation and discussion about the lack of advertisement for at-large committee seats. There were a significant number of at-large candidates, and only one (if recall) committee was filled with no vote, and that was the budget committee. Right now, the message goes out through the constituencies to presumably moderately involved members within them. The executive has never made efforts to publicize these positions and makes no bones about saying so. But, as Jeff detailed in a comment on the below post, this has been recognized as a flaw. The reorganization of AMS volunteer connections and AMS job link (which was carried at today's meeting), to be combined and renamed AMS Connect, is supposed to have more detailed online postings for internal volunteer positions henceforth. This is to more widely publicize AMS positions on committees, commissions, working groups and so forth, as well as build a greater sense of community and relevance among students-at-large. Too bad the regular half-assed effort at publicizing the positions was still in effect for this round.
  • Students-at-large may only sit on one (1) appointed position within the AMS, according to the interpretation of the following passage of code (section I, article 1, paragraph 4) :
    "Student At Large" shall mean an Active Member who is eligible to serve in an
    appointed position by virtue of not being a member of Council and not currently holding any other position to which he or she has been appointed by Council, a Council Committee, a Commission, a Planning Group, the Ombudsperson, the Executive Committee, an individual member of the Executive, or the Executive Coordinator of Student Services. (emphasis added)
    During the course of the evening, there were many council-designated seats on committees that were not eagerly filled, or not filled at all. So much so that Brendon Goodmurphy put forward a motion to suspend Code and allow more than one person from each constituency to be appointed to one committee just to be able to fill them (normally, for example, only one Arts representative is permitted on a given committee as per section V, article 2, paragraph 3). Opening up multiple committee appointments to members at large is practical. There is no explicit statement to the contrary in code - only the above cited definition.
  • This council is certainly not disinclined to choose members at large that are unfamiliar to it if they show up and give a half-decent spiel. Margaret and Natalie showed that. Here's hoping more will follow their example.
  • PiR^2 does not serve matza pizza on Passover during 6-hour long AMS meetings. This is a violation of human rights, and should be treated as such for speedy mitigation ASAP.
  • If I'm missing information, or erring, please post updates/corrections. It's been a long night.

*I totally did write this up last night at 1 am when I got home. Due to a silly internet connection, I don't seem like as huge a keener as I am.