AMS president vows to put society in touch

Ryan Marshall, a fourth-year Theatre student, was elected president of the Alma Mater Society (AMS) in student elections held recently.

Marshall collected 987 of the 2,602 ballots cast, defeating Daniel Arbour, Scott Morishita and John Hallett for the top AMS job -- a full-time position, which pays $16,000.

The new president says one of his top priorities is to put the AMS more in touch with students.

"I think the AMS has lost touch with its mandate," says Marshall. "We need to get more students involved with the decision-making process of the AMS and the university."

Marshall ran under the Students for Students slate along with Maryann Adamec, a second-year Commerce and Business Administration student elected vice-president, and Tina Chow, a third-year Arts student elected director of administration.

Karen Sonik, third-year Arts, was elected director of finance and Nathan Allen, third-year Arts, won the vote for co-ordinator of external affairs. Both students ran for the Action Now team.

Elected to the Board of Governors is Jesse Guscott, third-year Science. The remaining board position is to be decided pending an investigation of voting irregularities.

Marshall says student housing is a major concern of the new AMS executive. He says 4,500 students are on the waiting list for residences. He's skeptical about plans to relocate the fraternity and sorority houses on Wesbrook Mall to build more housing.

"I think UBC's plan is to build more private, high-end residential complexes like Hampton Place. What we need is more student and faculty housing to draw top professors," Marshall says.

The quality of education is also a priority. Marshall wants the AMS to lobby governments for funding increases to support more quality professors.

Stable tuition is another issue of concern. Marshall says if the provincial government is going to continue with the tuition freeze, it needs to increase the funding to match inflationary increases for salaries, utilities and other basics.

"A long-term plan has to be drawn up so students know what they will be paying for their education from the time they enter UBC to the time they leave," he says.

Marshall takes over the job Feb. 26 from outgoing president Vivian Hoffmann.

Scott Morishita, the presidential candidate who placed third, disputed the election. AMS ombudsperson Trevor Franklin recommended that the presidential race be overturned. The AMS council voted against the motion but plans to redevelop electoral procedures.