Alma Mater Society of the University of British Columbia Vancouver
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|Formation||October 15, 1915|
|University of British Columbia|
|Affiliations||Alliance of British Columbia Students
The Alma Mater Society (AMS) is the student society of UBC Vancouver and represents more than 48,000 students at UBC's Vancouver campus and the affiliated colleges. The AMS also operates student services, student owned businesses, faculty constituencies, resource groups and clubs. In addition to offering services to students, the AMS is an advocate of student issues and ensures the needs of students are presented to the University Administration and the Provincial and Federal governments.
Graduate students at the Vancouver campus are also represented by the Graduate Student Society of UBC Vancouver. Students at UBC's Okanagan campus are represented by the University of British Columbia Students' Union - Okanagan.
To improve the quality of the educational, social, and personal lives of the students of UBC.
The Alma Mater Society will promote high-quality student learning. It will advocate student interests, as well as those of the University of British Columbia and post-secondary education as a whole. The Society will provide its members with diverse opportunities to become exceptional leaders. It will be flexible enough to accommodate the changing world. The AMS's priorities will be determined by its members. The Society will foster communication, both internally and externally, in order to be democratic, fair, accountable to, and accessible to its members. It will provide services students want and can use. It will cultivate unity and goodwill among its members, but will also encourage free and open debate, as well as respect for differing views. It will solve problems constructively.
The highest decision-making body of the AMS is the Student Council. Meeting every two weeks during the Academic Year, and at least once a month during the summer, this body has representatives from each of the Schools and Faculties of UBC, as well as the five members of the Executive, two representatives of the Student Senate Caucus, the two Vancouver student members of the UBC Board of Governors, and several non-voting positions including the Executive Coordinator of Student Services, the Ombudsperson, and representatives from Regent College and the Vancouver School of Theology. Members of Council are the Directors of the Society (as defined under the Society Act of British Columbia) and are responsible for all high-level financial and legal decisions made by the AMS - including the overseeing of internal procedures (known as the Code of Procedure), a $28.3 million budget, the Student Union Building, and policy statements.
The operations of the AMS are governed by a five-member Executive, as well as a professional General Manager, Executive Director, and the Student Services Manager. The Executive consists of the President, the Vice-President Academic and University Affairs, the Vice-President Finance, the Vice-President Administration, and the Vice-President External Affairs. Members of the Executive are elected in a campus-wide election each January, along with five Senators-at-Large to the UBC Senate, and two student representatives to the UBC Board of Governors.
Until February 2004, candidates running for Executive positions ran as part of a slate. The 2005 AMS election was the first election which the AMS saw electoral candidates run as independents. Past slates included Students for Students (more right-leaning candidates with strong support from athletes, fraternities and residences), Action Now/Students' Voice/SPAN-Student Progressive Action Network (more left-leaning candidates with strong support from students living off-campus, the safety community and resource groups) and the Radical Beer Faction (the longest-running slate in AMS history).
The AMS elections have been characterized by low turnout. A number of initiatives have been undertaken to improve the level of engagement with the student society, and increase turnout levels. Voter Funded Media and the introduction of Condorcet method style voting for executive positions. Turnout in the 2009 election improved to 14.4%.
Initiatives and Services
One of the major projects that the AMS has undertaken is the New SUB Project in order to increase available space for student activities by 50% compared to the old Student Union Building. The initiative was approved by referendum in April 2008 and construction is slated to begin in 2012. The building is funded by an incremental increase in student fees, which will supply $80 million for the construction of the building. When completed, the building is planned to have 250,000 square feet (23,000 m2) with a price tag of $108.3 million (with $25 million from the university). The building is scheduled to open on January 5th, 2015.
The AMS runs many services for students on the UBC campus, including The Sexual Assault Support Centre (SASC), Speakeasy, a peer support group for students, the AMS Advocacy Office, the AMS Food Bank, AMS Tutoring, a health and dental plan for students, and Safewalk, a service for escorting students on campus safely. In addition, the AMS lobbies local and provincial governments and institutions for the benefit of the student body. For example, the AMS lobbied against the $16 million funding cuts to B.C. post-secondary institutions in 2009.
On September 25th, 2012, the AMS founded Get OnBoard BC, a coalition of transit stakeholders in the Metro Vancouver region to lobby for increases to public transit funding. The organization continues to exist today as a separate registered not for profit under the BC Societies Act.
By paying student fees, a student becomes a member of the AMS. Membership entitles students to vote in AMS elections and referendums, and utilize the many services that are provided by the student society and the university.
In addition to being a member of the AMS, any UBC student is a member the respective constituent society that represents all the students in a given faculty. These groups, including the Arts Undergraduate Society, Science Undergraduate Society, Commerce Undergraduate Society and Engineering Undergraduate Society (the big four), as well as the hold the elections for their respective seats on AMS Council. Unlike the undergraduate programs with direct elections, Graduate Student seats on AMS council are appointed by the council of the Graduate Student Society, which is recognized by the University as the representative body of graduate students.
The AMS was a founding member of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations. Due to scandal, the AMS withdrew from CASA in the late 1990s, but later rejoined. In 2008, AMS Council voted to step down to Associate Membership, citing concerns over centralized control, costs and value. In October 2009, AMS Council voted to withdraw entirely from the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, however, this decision was overturned on March 31, 2010, until the AMS ultimately withdrew entirely in November 2011. The AMS remains unaffiliated from any federal student federation.
On December 1st, 2013, the AMS formally founded the Alliance of British Columbia Students, a not for profit confederation of British Columbia student societies advocating for a better post-secondary landscape in BC. The organization now represents nine student associations, including the Kwantlen Student Association, University of Victoria Students Society, Graduate Students Society of UBC Vancouver, BCIT Student Association, Capilano Students Union, University of Fraser Valley Students Union Society, Langara Students Union, and Royal Roads Student Society. The organization advocates on behalf of 165,000 students across BC, and holds an annual Lobby Days at the provincial legislature meeting with local MLA's, Ministers, and members of the civil service.
Clubs and activities
UBC Debate Society
The UBC Debating Society is a constituted student club of the Alma Mater Society of the University of British Columbia. The club is also a varsity athletics team with support from athletics and recreation. In 2007 the club and the university hosted the World University Debate Championships. The UBCDS's most recent activities taking first at the Hart House Invitational 2009, and hosting the 2009 British Parliamentary Championship.
The society competes regularly in tournaments across Canada and around the world, but practice meetings have traditionally been open to students of all levels of debate exposure. The preferred style of the UBC debate Society is parliamentary; like most clubs in Canada it splits the year between Canadian and British Parliamentary Style. Many programs including High School debate coaching and Debate 101, which teaches debate to University students in classroom settings, are conducted by the club.