Chairperson candidate 2014: Matt Hammer


Matt Hammer is the chairperson candidate for Link UVic. He is one of two candidates running for this position. Voting for this election opens March 5, 2014.

What area do you study at UVic?

I’m a history major with a minor in biology.

What made you decide to run for chairperson?

I’ve spent the last year as director of finance and operations, doing some good work I think in student outreach, consultation, streamlining budgets, making appeals processes more fair, but I’m really interested in really working hard on campaigns and advocacy issues and transparency and accountability issues. And it’s easiest to work on those issues as chair, where I can really focus on them.

What makes you the best candidate for this position?

Like I said, I’ve spent the last year as director of finance and operations. I have a really good understanding of how the society works and how the university works. I’ve got really well-developed relationships with all members of the university administration, which I think will be really beneficial in this position—one of main roles of which is liaising with the university. I have a strong background in sustainability. I’ve worked on residence energy use projects, on campaigning for a more sustainable campus, renewable energy on campus and all those kinds of issues and I have a strong background in grassroots organizing and outreaching consultation. I think I’ve also got the bright ideas and the right team for the job.  

What would you do differently from the previous chairperson?

I think Kelsey has done a great job this year. I mean, things like helping to host PowerShift, which I was also a part of, working on streamlining policy, and she’s done some work with me on outreaching consultation too, but I think that there’s always room to do more, or have more focus on that transparency, outreach, engagement, and consultation. And also we’ve done some great work on eliminating legal fees this year, bringing those down into line, and I’d like to continue that work and build on it to make sure that, while we don’t sacrifice our values, we’re being efficient with students’ money and making the right choices about what needs to happen.

How do you feel about the UVSS joining up with Divest UVic?

I think it’s a great idea. I mean, I’ve been involved with Divest UVic for a long time. Although, it took a long time to convince me. It’s a hard argument to make. I think it’s one that needs to be thought through very carefully, but I think in the end it is the right argument and I’m really excited to move forward with that campaign. Obviously not as one of the core campaigns for the UVSS. Our resources are stretched pretty thin working on important issues like affordability, transit, and the rest. Sexualized violence including this year, which is really good. But I’m really excited to move forward with [Divest UVic] and support that campaign. It’s important to work on climate justice from a broader perspective, not just focused on campus sustainability.

What student campaigns do you want to support?

I mentioned a lot of things already. I think that—and getting back to the earlier question about what I’d do differently this year—one campaign that we haven’t worked on in the past is around affordable housing, around rent issues, obviously something that affects a lot of students and is basic to quality of life and the municipal election coming up in the fall is a great place to address those kinds of issues. So I really want to engage students, particularly on that campaign, but obviously transit, affordable education, sexualized violence are all things that I am also passionate about.

How do you feel about reading through and making changes to policy?

I love policy. I was key in helping to draft the ABCS (Alliance of B.C. Students) constitution bylaws. I think we spent like nine hours during the day, until like 11 or 12 one night working on that document. It was a haul. But it’s really fun. It’s fun getting to the nitty gritty details and making sure that your policy is actually saying exactly what you want it to be doing, which is really tricky. It requires a lot of attention to detail, but I think I’ve got the skills to make that happen.

What do you think is the purpose of the UVSS?

This is a really tough question and it’s a really big question. The purpose of the UVSS is to make campus life more awesome for students and to provide resources to students to do the kinds of things they want to make their lives easier and that encompasses a lot of things. It encompasses events—throwing kick-ass parties so students can unwind and build campus community—which our director of events candidate, Ian Kopp is going to be great at. It encompasses clubs, course unions, advocacy groups, making sure those groups have the resources to get the things done that they need to get done, and our director of student affairs candidate, Alison Root, is going to be great at that. It encompasses campaigns, political advocacy groups. Greg Atkinson is going to be great at that. But it also encompasses directly training and giving opportunities for students to develop their own capacity to make the changes they want to see, both academically, which is going to be my big focus this year, and politically, which I’ll also be focusing on and which has been my focus in the past.

If elected, what are your main goals?

I feel like I’ve been talking about that all interview. But, as I’ve said, my main goals are around accountability, transparency, making sure that people feel like their voices are included in the UVSS. I’ve got the experience to make that happen—I’ve started working on it this year. But also, mobilizing students effectively to make changes on campus. I talk about in my platform: exploring the idea of making student-professor evaluations public to students. Other campuses do it and it’s a plausible solution to improve transparency and make campus and academic life easier for students. But, yeah, basically they revolve around engagement, transparency, and helping students make changes on campus and off campus. Like the municipal elections I mentioned—mobilizing and engaging students for that.

Where is your favourite place to eat on campus?

That’s really tough. There’s so many good food options on campus and my favourites, I think, are in the SUB. International Grill is great, but I’ve also been recently converted to Health Food Bar’s marinated lentil salad. Marinated lentil salad is delicious. And some of the vegan and gluten free options there too are so good, which is sometimes surprising for vegan and gluten free stuff.