The discussion on transparency once again took center stage as the candidates for the post of AMS Vice President of Finance sparred in their second debate last night.
Current AMS Assistant Vice President Finance Rita Jin, current Inter-Fraternity Council (IFC) President Noah Jassmann and AMS newcomer Angad Singh Gill discussed a variety of issues ranging from the AMS/GSS health and dental plan to the company’s transition to a new club reimbursement system. .
Much like in the first debate, much of the conversation between the candidates focused on issues of transparency within the AMS’s financial processes.
Discussion of this issue was particularly frequent in response to the second question, in which candidates were asked whether they supported a referendum to allow budget changes of up to $5,000 to be made by the Finance Committee without the need WHA Board approval.
All three candidates supported the referendum and insisted that they would properly communicate any amendments to students.
“I don’t think you would have a problem with transparency,” Jassmann said. “Any decisions that would be made, especially under my leadership as vice president of finance, would be communicated to the students and that would definitely be something I would work towards.”
“I personally am definitely in favor of this referendum because by being able to make changes to the budget under $5,000, we are able to get through the budget approval process faster,” Jin said. “It will increase transparency because with all this time we can obviously focus on getting the message out about sharing on social media.”
Gill agreed with his opponents, adding that he would create specific social media accounts for the vice president of finance to communicate with students, a suggestion Jassmann supported. Jin supported using social media to communicate, but felt AMS already had enough Instagram accounts.
The theme of transparency continued in discussions on the AMS/GSS health and dental plan. Asked about overages in plan funding, Jassmann expressed a desire to increase student knowledge of AMS mental health grants.
“We believe that surpluses are not used because students are not benefiting from them,” Jassmann said. “They don’t use the resources that are available to them because they don’t know they have those resources.”
Gill also expressed concern that as a student he could not access information on the size and distribution of surpluses. He recommended a system of participatory budgeting in which students could help decide how surpluses would be allocated.
Unlike the first debate, however, the discussions between candidates became heated.
During the open debate about changing reimbursement systems, Gill asked Jin how news of the change and the particular systems involved were communicated to students. Jin responded that information about the change was in the minutes of the finance committee meeting, which Gill criticized for not being easily accessible.
“You said these resources are available in meeting minutes, but I don’t believe most UBC students know these resources are available online,” Gill said. “I have never seen any emails, surveys or social media posts that we have such resources.”
Jin then asked his opponents if they knew how the new AMS financial system worked – which he is currently in the process of transitioning to.
Jassmann responded, but did not go into detail.
“I understand what’s happening with the new financial system, but I don’t believe 30 seconds is enough or adequate to answer everything accurately,” he said.
Later, Jin asked Jassmann and Gill where the money would come from to increase student coverage.
When Jassmann replied that the funding would come from the Health and Dental Fund surplus, Jin asked if he knew the size of the surplus and if it would cover all students. He gave a rough estimate of four or five million dollars and insisted that would be enough.
Voting begins March 7.
follow us on @UbysseyNews on Twitter and follow our election coverage from February 28. This article is part of our AMS 2022 election coverage.