Wednesday, May 30, 2007

AMS meeting, may 30

Yesterday's council meeting was a picture of brisk efficiency. A colossally long list of agenda items was faithfully plodded through to general satisfaction, though not fascination. Here's a summary of the things I didn't sleep through:

  • U-Boulevard efforts were successful, and monumental, said the president and VP academic. They reviewed the outcome (the plan is being redesigned) and noted that "from scratch" is not a wild interpretation according to conversations with President Toope and others. Noted that this affair is a good example of students using the AMS for their needs, sand congratulated the petition team. Check out the stories about the petition and U-Boulevard campaign that ran in the Hampton Journal community paper here, and in the Courier here.
  • The VP academic talked about re-launching Yardstick, an AMS publication which used to list teacher evaluation results. The new permutation of it will be more fun to read, more controversial, and more political, with less numbers. Articles about pedagogy, professor profiles, students' personal essays about UBC, student surveys regarding academics, as well as some teacher evaluation results. Perhaps more comprehensive evaluation results will be available in an online supplement. An innovative idea was to create a list of criteria for what a good lecture should contain, then randomly drop in on some of the largest lecture courses and evaluate an average lecture. Results from such a survey with names of profs included would be published in Yardstick. That, and including lists of profs that refused to release their evaluations would comprise the more 'controversial' portion of the publication.

  • SA link was passed - this is basically an integrated website for clubs and constituencies to both socially communicate, as well as conduct their financial and administrative obligations with the AMS. These are things like executive and member lists, room bookings, financial accounting, elections, and so forth. It is a new system being purchased from a young IT company called Collegiate Link, which was developed by ex-student-government hacks who realized the lack of centralized club/constituency administration - currently, club administration is a dark web of confusing and unintuitive websites that are totally unconnected. The AMS will be purchasing a new uber-server to power the new system, as well as dishing out 42 grand for the program itself. Some of the administrative roles of the finance commission and SAC may be slimmed down when the new system cuts their workload.

  • Pi R^2 renovation was approved. A new serving counter, different types of seating, and a more open design is being put in. Apparently line-ups will be better organized, and it'll be prettier all around.

  • Pit Pub renovations were approved - $160000 is being spent to make the place slightly less dingy, but still dingy enough to retain true pit character. New seats, new paint (colour undecided), refinished tables, new railings for the dance floor, new 'memorabilia wall, a new bar surface, new sounds system, fancy new lighting (that may or may not be energy efficient), and some new booth seats are all in the plan. This should all be finished before everyone is back for September. Since there's no structural work being done, the bill is fairly reasonable, and it's not expected that the pub will have to close.

  • SUB renew - the process of planning for a new, expanded, or majorly renovated SUB has taken a surprising direction. With the U-Boulevard plan being re-designed, the AMS has begun informal talk about the SUB expanding into the development itself - perhaps taking ownership of one, or part of the buildings (in whatever form they take). This integration of SUB with the development is quite exciting - and exactly what was totally lacking in the previous design. The AMS has begun consultation with architects and plans to bring a referendum to student on the topic by the end of the year. However, if integration into U-Boulevard is a direction the AMS wants to go with SUB renew, it'll be interesting to see how the referendum's timing can work with the BoG timeline for approval - which is around late fall 2007, immediately after the consultation and redesign are completed.

  • U-pass service is being expanded to co-op students come September. Co-op students will be considered full AMS members. This is based on a survey that went out to coop students which asked if they would like to retain full AMS membership. They were in favor by a good margin - 87%.

  • AMS website is being re-designed for a new look, and a better administrative interface. Now every little update won't need coding, rather a simple interface (like blogger, for example) will allow normal technology dunces to update the site. A web design company called White Matter has been hired for this task. GSS president Matt Fillipiak asked why students aren't being hired to do this type of work (or generally, why students aren't used for design and architecture projects). The VP Finance said it was because they would cost almost as much, and the president said it was because they had really liked the product this company offered. What do people think about student vs. professional hiring for AMS projects?

A theme of both the SA link project and the AMS website redesign was making the AMS brand consistent and recognizable. These two sites are to have a common "look and feel". Maybe having a branding design contest would be a good way to get students familiar and involved with making the AMS better recognized? Thoughts on this topic?