Thursday, January 10, 2008

Candidate Questionnaire: Mike Duncan

Mike Duncan is a candidate for AMS President. Here are his answers.

Why do you want to be the president of the AMS?
I am a very strong supporter of campus engagement. The AMS quite simply has not done an acceptable job engaging the broader campus community. I believe my skill set and the experience I bring to the position can change this. The time where we only listen to a small set of AMS hacks needs to end.

Vancouver is one of the most active and involved cities in the World. We are praised for this fact. Despite this, we still do not have a free gym and intramural fees are absurdly expensive. In order to have a healthy lifestyle, recreation is essential. I will ensure that we engage with UBC Athletics and use the new SUB Renew process to help remedy this fact and help make staying healthy and active an easy thing to do on a student budget.

Finally, I would like to draw your attention to the wall of my facebook site. The first post on there is from a first year student that I really don’t know that well. She took it upon herself to join my group without an invite and write a post on the wall stating how I impacted her on her first day here at UBC, how she was amazed that, despite the craziness of the first day of term, I was still able to take the time to talk to her about how to get involved. It is people like that, people who you impact in your life, that really make me want to be AMS President. That is the reason I am involved.

What personal skills and experiences could you bring to the portfolio?
Where I differ from many other AMS candidates, and many other AMS Presidents throughout past years, is the broad range of experience I bring to the portfolio. I have led teams in the Science Undergraduate Society, in the UBC Aqua Society, in UBC Orientations, and in intramural sports. I haven’t just participated in these activities, but have led these different teams to do great things. Using my teambuilding and leadership skills I have made a great difference in all these above groups, especially the Science Undergraduate Society. I have had to learn how to deal with such a wide variety of teams that I can guarantee that I am well suited to lead the incoming AMS executive team to do great things for the Society.

If there was one thing you could change about the AMS what would it be?
I would change the way we deal with our clubs. Our clubs see us as a burden, not a benefit. Sarah and Brittany have definitely improved how we do this throughout the past year, but more can be done. Right now it is difficult to find clubs, and even more difficult to join them. I would make it easy for clubs to collaborate with us to improve their promotion. I would make a second Clubs Days and in general, dedicate more of the main concourse time to AMS clubs instead of outside vendors. I would also take the current events calendar and make it something the clubs are dying to put their events onto. I would make it a real promotion tool.

How would you be a good leader of the Executive team?
Please see my question regarding what skills I bring to the portfolio.

How will you manage the organization internally given the transition of the General Manager and many permanent staff this year?
The GM and permanent staff that are leaving us this year deserve to be applauded. They have done an amazing job helping our society. Their transition marks an opportunity for some great change in the society. 13 years ago, the AMS hired an independent company to do a review of the society and suggest many things that were not efficient and could be modified. I will look into the feasibility of hiring a company to do this for us again. Even if it isn’t feasible, I will still ensure that we use this opportunity to strategically look at our framework, and to introduce parts of the strategic framework into our society.

What structural changes do you think would make council and committees more effective and cohesive in the organization?
The strategic framework has many recommendations for change capable in our society. Most importantly, it is imperative that we are not standing still just for the sake of standing still. Some reorganization of executive duties needs to take place, especially those regarding the VP External and VP Academic and University affairs. I will also work to empower council more. People don’t work well when everything they do is handed down to them from the top. I will work to ensure council members can take on their own initiatives and set their own goals to help improve the society and what we do.

How will you make the AMS known, relevant, and an attractive place for involvement for all students?
To start, it is important that we make the AMS known. Once it is better known, the rest will fall into place. I believe that to make the AMS known, you need to make it relevant. If we fight for the important issues to students then they will start to see how we are important. I will set up a UBC Roundtable twice a term where we invite campus leaders from across campus to come and discuss current issues that are affecting them. I will also continue the work Jeff has done with AMS Connect to help improve how people get involved with our society. One of the best ways to attain and retain volunteers is to acknowledge their efforts. It doesn’t have to be much, but the sum of many little acknowledgements and benefits can make the difference for many involved students.

Jeff's role as a governor on the BoG and President seemed effective in giving students a voice. How would manage your relationship with UBC decision makers?
I will most certainly get some criticism for my view regarding UBC decision makers. Many students believe that the only way to deal with UBC Administration is to ‘stick it to the man’. I would approach the situation in a forceful, but respectful way. Students are a force to be reckoned with, but we can’t go into every meeting shouting our heads off because they will learn to ignore us. I still believe we need to be forceful, and to push hard and strong for the change we want to see, but I believe the way to do that is through mutual respect and collaboration.

How would you implement the AMS Strategic Framework?
Inherently, change is difficult for people to accept. We see that with UBC Administration, but we also see that within our own framework. The AMS strategic framework has some very important aspects to it, but I don’t see it ever passing through council in one lump sum. [note: the AMS Strategic Framework passed through council two years ago - Ed.] In order to improve the society, I will select certain important sections of the strategic framework and ensure they get passed. We do need to make progress with this, and this year is a unique opportunity because of the large turnover and the resulting change in ideals. Finally, I will also ensure that any framework that is to be implemented goes through the proper consultation to ensure that council members understand how they are improving their society.