Problems with UBC: AMS (a.k.a. Assholic Moronic “Students”)

6 03 2013

“Alright.  So the UBC bureaucracy has no semblance of common sense when it comes to money.  But I’m smart.  We students are smart.  At least the Alma Mater Society (AMS), which is run by my fellow students, has a positive influence on UBC and my university experience.”

I am in my first year of studies at UBC, but as a transfer student, I am starting in 3rd year.  I have already taken about 4 years of studies prior to transferring to UBC.  When I arrived at UBC, I continuously heard about some group called the AMS, yet the descriptions of this group and what they do was always vague at best.  Confused, I asked my friend who is in his third year, “What exactly does the AMS do?”

His answer was immediate: “Nothing.”

Surely that couldn’t be true.

Back in 2011, there was a provincial protest in Victoria held by several universities against rising tuition and student debt.

The total number of UBC students?  Eight.  None were members of the AMS.

Here’s the hilarious thing: when asked why he and the AMS didn’t go, the then-president said they couldn’t afford the transportation.


I get that buses can be expensive, but couldn’t you just all pile into a car and drive there?  Would that have been so hard, to even get one of you there?

Or maybe you should have paid for transportation yourself, with the $25,000 cheque you receive every year for not attending important political events.  And then you have the audacity to give yourselves a bonus when UBC is itself in debt, which, not only is this obviously a conflict of interest, but the fact that the money is coming out of students’ pockets is absurd (and why does seemingly no one care about this??).  And then hide this raise with some bullshit about a vague process of listing goals to earn this money when this process — and these lists themselves — don’t exist.  Perhaps this quote sums up the AMS best: “a bunch of 18–21-year-old political nerds fucking around with your student fees.”

I don’t quite understand student unions.  To me, they are a paradox.  You vote for a student to represent you and your interests, then pay them a large sum to work for you.  But by giving them such a generous salary, doesn’t that, in a sense, make them less of a student when many are struggling with debt?  Sure, you don’t have to be a poor student to understand poor students, but when you decide it’s more important to award yourself more money and then say you’re hard at work to make the art collection available online — that’s just a big f- you to your fellow, debt-drowning students.

But if this isn’t enough comedy for you, my favourite story about this group of wannabe intellectuals is the incident involving then-VP Admin Caroline Wong (now somehow President) kicking out a homeless woman from the Womyn’s Centre, claiming it was for safety reasons, since there were no overnight security guards.  As if it would be safer for this woman elsewhere, with no place to stay.  A classmate of mine, who interviewed Jennie Roth, the manager of the centre, said the AMS responded with statements such as “it’s not really the university’s business”.

I think that statement about sums up the indifference of the AMS towards students’ well-being at UBC.  You’re in trouble?  Fleeing from an abusive partner?  Well, you can’t stay here.  Sucks to be you. 

Mostly, I can’t believe Wong.  She seemed unprepared and unsympathetic, not to mention she puts Arts students to shame for her lack of understanding about women’s safety and sexual health concerns.  Also ironic is that the AMS has apparently spent a considerable amount to stay at fancy hotels but hasn’t fixed this issue after the incident.

Of course, this is all based one articleI don’t know for sure what happened.  But if it was true, and Wong did in fact do what she did, well, then the AMS just plain sucks.

Taking the You out of UBC

Stephen Toope and the then-president of the AMS spew sparkly propaganda at you that reminds me of cheesy VHS educational tapes I watched in high school. (I find this even more hilarious than the other video, especially because Toope is clearly trying really hard)