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AMS Presidential Candidate Cheneil Antony-Hale

This week, UBC Her Campus was able to interview AMS Presidential Candidate Cheneil Antony-Hale a fourth year political science major and economics minor.  Cheneil spoke to us about her experience, the BDS referendum and the major platform issues for this election.


What extracurricular do you take part in on campus?

I’m the current President of the Feminist Club here at UBC, and one of the founders. We’ve done seven events over the last six months, including open mics, pub trivia nights, a boxing workshop, movie nights and a seminar. I also run our Youtube channel, where we interview everyone from UBC students, to inspiring activists, to Youtube celebrities. I was in a band that was formed through Blank Vinyl Project up until a month ago, and now I play open mics with my campaign manager, and friend, Blessing Falayi. I’m also a huge martial arts enthusiast, and have practiced my hooks and jabs at AMS boxing club meetings, and gone to MMA classes held at the Student Recreational Center.


What interested you in running for AMS President?

Over the last two years, I’ve gotten really involved in campus politics, and I’ve noticed a lot of things that need to change, from the lack of rights of students in UBC housing, to how many groups on campus are marginalized and ignored. I didn’t make the decision to run, however, until a couple of months ago. I was waiting to interview Laci Green for the Feminist Club Youtube channel, and I started talking about the I Am a Student Movement, and the underrepresentation of women in politics with my friend, and other current campaign manager, Imaan Mesut. The conversation we had made me realize that if I actually wanted to see change happen on campus, I needed to step up, take a risk, and run for a position in student government which could actually make a difference.


For students that may not be following the election closely, what is in your opinion the major platform issues in this election?

With the recent fee increases, which were approved without our consent, I think getting legal protection for students in UBC housing, and fighting for a bigger student voicon university spending and fee increases, are the major platform issues in this election.

In 2012, about a quarter of UBC students graduated with an average debt of 25 000$ after a four year degree. Debt brings a lot more than financial problems. It adds stress, and stress contributes to poor mental health, and poor mental health is often transformed into problems with one’s physical health. Unless students gain more power in the major decision making bodies, our needs, our experiences, our financial and mental wellbeing, will never be top priority.

Right now we pay 37% of the university’s revenue, but have only 14% of the vote on how that money is spent and whether our fees are raised. If we pay 37% of UBCs revenue, we should have 37% of the vote. Furthermore, we are not currently protect under the BC Tenancy Act, which means, among other things, that the university can kick a student out of housing with no notice, staff can enter a student tenant’s room with no notice, students can be moved to more expensive housing without their consent, and be forced to pay the increased rent. That’s not right. Which is why another one of my campaign points is getting students in UBC housing legal protection.

That is why we need strong leadership within the AMS, which will lobby the government for changes in the University Act, in order to create more student seats on the Board of Governors, and for a new separate provincial Tenancy Act which will specifically address issues that tenants in 8-month student housing have to deal with.


In the last debate you were criticized for your lack of experience in student government. What experience do you have that you feel will make you the ideal candidate for president?

Founding a club, and establishing a structure which will make that club effective, relevant, and prolific, while creating positions which accommodate the different personalities of your executives, is leadership on a whole other level when compared with entering into a pre-existing leadership position. I believe that I have demonstrated my capabilities as a competent leader in not only founding a new club, but also in leading it in such a way that after six months of existence, we received AMS social/political club of the year.

I have also demonstrated my abilities in rallying people, when last year I organized a visual awareness campaign which garnered over 400 participants, and on and off campus media attention.

Finally, during the summers I work as a Marine Mammal and Seabird Observer (MMSO) on seismic ships. As an MMSO, I make sure that oil companies follow environmental regulations, and do not harm marine wildlife. If I believe that the safety of marine mammals could be in jeopardy, I have the authority to shut down the entire operation, which can cost the companies hundreds of thousands of dollars. This requires a strong sense of self, and a no nonsense approach. It also means being able to maintain a respectful relationship with all parties involved. This includes the government, environmental groups, and oil companies.


Many students are unsure how to vote on the BDS referendum. What is your stance on the matter and how do you think students should vote?

As a candidate for AMS president, I do not believe it is my role to tell students what to think. I have my own personal views on BDS, but because the role of the AMS is to represent all students, I do not feel it is appropriate to say what I think about it. I will say this: the AMS taking an “anything but yes” stance is not only wrong, but is also discriminatory. By taking this stance they are not representing the students who believe that “yes on BDS” is the right answer. The AMS should have adopted a neutral stance, and let the students decide through referendum. They should have also made sure the playing field is equal between both sides, by setting spending limits, and by making sure that misinformation in advertising is not allowed.


You’ve asserted in previous debates the need to put into place more extensive training for RAs. What would this training look like or entail?

The additional training that I’m advocating for is called “anti-violence ally training”, and professionals at the Sexual Assault Support Center have told me that making this extra training mandatory for RAs would go a long way in helping them support survivors of sexual assault in a first response situation. Anti-violence ally training covers definitions of consent and assault, as well as information about the Canadian legal system, basic support skills, and what resources are available to survivors, among other things.

I would also like to acknowledge that while RA’s do receive some form of sexual assault training right now, House Presidents do not, and neither do members of AMS council, or club executives. I think giving these authority figures some form of sexual assault training should also be looked into.


Voting is now open and will be running from March 9- 13th so make sure to vote!

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