The Alma Mater Society (AMS) is the student society of UBC Vancouver and represents more than 47,000 undergraduate and graduate students at UBC's Vancouver campus and the affiliated colleges. The AMS also operates student services, student owned businesses, faculty constituencies, resource groups and student clubs. In addition to offering services to students, the AMS is an advocate of student issues and ensures the needs of students are presented to the University Administration and the Provincial and Federal governments.
Students at UBC's Okanagan campus are represented by the University of British Columbia Students' Union - Okanagan.
To improve the quality of the educational, social, and personal lives of the students of UBC.
The Alma Mater Society will promote high-quality student learning. It will advocate student interests, as well as those of the University of British Columbia and post-secondary education as a whole. The Society will provide its members with diverse opportunities to become exceptional leaders. It will be flexible enough to accommodate the changing world. The AMS's priorities will be determined by its members. The Society will foster communication, both internally and externally, in order to be democratic, fair, accountable to, and accessible to its members. It will provide services students want and can use. It will cultivate unity and goodwill among its members, but will also encourage free and open debate, as well as respect for differing views. It will solve problems constructively.
The highest decision-making body of the AMS is the Student Council. Meeting every two weeks during the Academic Year, and at least once a month during the summer, this body has representatives from each of the Schools and Faculties of UBC, as well as the five members of the Executive, two representatives of the Student Senate Caucus, the two Vancouver student members of the UBC Board of Governors, and several non-voting positions including the Executive Coordinator of Student Services, the Ombudsperson, and representatives from Regent College and the Vancouver School of Theology. Members of Council are the Directors of the Society (as defined under the Society Act of British Columbia) and are responsible for all high-level financial and legal decisions made by the AMS - including the overseeing of internal procedures (known as the Code of Procedure), a $10.5 million budget, the Student Union Building, and policy statements. The voting members of AMS Council are also the directors of the AMS Foundation, a registered charity.
The operations of the AMS are governed by a five-member Executive, as well as a professional General Manager and the Executive Coordinator of Student Services. The Executive consists of the President, the Vice-President Academic and University Affairs, the Vice-President Finance, the Vice-President Administration, and the Vice-President External Affairs. Members of the Executive are elected in a campus-wide election each January, along with five Senators-at-Large to the UBC Senate, and two student representatives to the UBC Board of Governors.
One of the major projects that the AMS has undertaken is the New SUB Project in order to increase available space for student activities by 50% compared to the old Student Union Building. The initiative was approved by referendum in April of 2008 and construction is slated to begin in 2012. The building is funded by an incremental increase in student fees, which will supply $78 million for the construction of the building. When completed, the building is planned to be 255,000 square feet, LEED Platinum certified, with a price tag of $103 million (with $25 million from the university), and aims to be the most sustainable student union building in the world.
The AMS runs many services for students on the UBC campus, including Speakeasy, a peer support group for students, the AMS Advocacy Office, the AMS Food Bank, AMS Tutoring, a health and dental plan for students, and Safewalk, a service for escorting students on campus safely. In addition, the AMS lobbies local and provincial governments and institutions for the benefit of the student body.
By paying student fees, a student becomes a member of the AMS. Membership entitles students to vote in AMS elections and referendums, and utilize the many services that are provided by the Students' union|student society and the university.
In addition to being a member of the AMS, any UBC student is a member the respective constituent society that represents all the students in a given faculty. These groups, including the Arts Undergraduate Society, Science Undergraduate Society, Commerce Undergraduate Society and Engineering Undergraduate Society (the big four), as well as the UBC Graduate Student Society, hold the elections for their respective seats on AMS Council.
The AMS was a founding member of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, a national student lobby organization comprised of 26 member schools representing more than 350,000 students across Canada.