Holmes and Kurtzke face off in AMS VP Academic debate

Max Holmes and Franz Kurtzke faced off Thursday night in the one and only debate for the AMS VP Academic and University Affairs (VPAUA) by-election.

Kurtzke presented himself in his opening statement as a “candidate of cultural change” with a focus on free speech and social justice reform.

Other issues he said he’ll focus on include opening up the issue of rape culture to an alternative perspective, developing anti-fragile mental heath services and protecting medical cannabis users — as later clarified in the audience question period.

Holmes emphasized his experience as the current associate VPAUA and presented a platform that focuses on “greater affordability, revitalization of campus experience, commitment to equity and experiential learning.’’

He said these goals would be supported by more extensive consultations and data-driven initiatives.

Questions for both candidates

The candidates were asked about the various aspects relevant to the VPAUA’s portfolio, to which they responded with opposite degrees of familiarity.

While Holmes was able to reference specific statistics from the 2017 AMS Academic Experience Survey (AES) to support his platform points about affordability — the most pressing matter to him — Kurtzke was not familiar with the report, which a major priority (and chunk of the budget) of the VPAUA office each year.

Kurtzke also “did not think that it was necessary for [him] to familiarize [himself] with it at this point.” Instead, he said, he considers opening up dialogue channels for those who might be self-censoring to be the most important matter.

In response, Holmes noted that the AES is the biggest item in the VPAUA’s $100,000 budget, thus requiring any candidate to know about it in addition to what they are “most passionate about.”

He further argued that “while thought diversity is important, [people] won’t be able to have that if [they] can’t even go to university” due to unaffordability.

Kurtzke…

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