UBC's AMS Council Restricts Executive Council's Powers: UN Complaint Follow-Up
In response to the unexpected complaint from Blake Frederick and Tim Chu as mentioned in a previous article, the Council of the Alma Mater Society at UBC has conducted several meetings of record-breaking attendance in the past week. The meetings were relocated on two separate occasions to a larger room in order to accommodate the enormous number of concerned students.
On Saturday November 28th, Council had passed a motion unanimously to retract the UN complaint. It was also noted that the complaint was not the will of the AMS Council nor the student body, but the will of Blake Frederick and Tim Chu. Another motion was passed to request Blake Frederick and Tim Chu to resign from their positions as President and Vice-President External respectively. If they refused to resign, then Council would begin searching for the appropriate steps to impeach them.
The meeting on Monday December 7th was originally planned to discuss the impeachment of the AMS President and Vice President External. However, the legal opinion of Davis LLP. was made public and it was made clear that the impeachment of student executives was not possible. Instead, Blake Frederick and Tim Chu were given the opportunity to speak to Council and students about their actions.
Blake noted that the government is often considered to be the one with the power to change, but in fact the power to change is in the students. His complaint to the UN exercised this strategy by showing that students can bring about change. The complaint was also intended to create more discussion and awareness for high tuition fees. The complaint was not actually meant to make the UN drop other human rights priorities to investigate the complaint. The UN complaint was "purely a media stunt". He continues to stand by the intent of his actions, but apologizes for not bringing the complaint to Council for formal approval.
Tim Chu made similar remarks and that the complaint was successful in garnering awareness of high tuition fees. He told the audience that he had received word from other student societies from universities across Canada that they were being asked for their opinion on tuition fees from their local media. This showed that their media stunt was successful in creating dialogue about tuition fees. He also apologizes for the route that they took with this action.
A lengthy question period was conducted at this time, which was made more lengthy due to two time extensions. There were students who were grateful to Blake and Tim for taking such a bold action to draw awareness to high tuition fees, but many were furious that they did not approach Council or the students about the complaint. There were also several speakers who expressed their loss of trust in the President because of his failure to consider the opinions of the students he was supposed to represent. Concerns were also raised about the inappropriate use of the UN to gain publicity.
Afterward, a motion to censure Blake and Tim was passed, as well as a motion for the entire Executive Council to be obliged to file weekly reports on their activities related to their role within the AMS to Council. Some were concerned that this would breach their privacy, however it was mentioned that the Executive Council are already responsible for filing bi-weekly reports on their meetings, and this would just be an extension of that. As well, a disciplinary motion was passed, that any decisions made by a member of the Executive Council must be passed by a majority vote from Council prior to the implementation of the decision.