AMS encourages student debate

In response to the polarized opinions of its membership on the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) conference, the Alma Mater Society (AMS), UBC's student society, has opted for a "freedom of expression" stance.

The AMS is hosting a five-week Student Summit on Asia Pacific Sept. 29 to Oct. 31. On Nov. 25, APEC leaders will meet at UBC's Museum of Anthropology.

"The AMS represents a large number of students with a huge range of views," said Jennie Chen, AMS director of Administration. "There are individuals and groups who oppose APEC, and there are also a lot of students who have pro-APEC positions."

In recognition of students' concerns regarding the poor human rights records of some APEC members, the AMS has stated its support for the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights.

Chen said the Student Summit, which is expected to draw participants from the Lower Mainland primarily, will provide a forum for student views on the Asia Pacific region and stimulate debate and intellectual exchange. The summit is aimed at ensuring students' opinions and perspectives are heard and recorded in a meaningful and productive way.

The summit will examine issues related to five broad themes concerning APEC and the Asia Pacific. Participants will deal with a different theme each week. The themes are as follows: International Trade and Economics; Social Development and Culture; The Environment and Sustainable Development; Freedoms and Human Rights; and Canada and the Asia Pacific.

Themes will be introduced at the beginning of each week by a speaker with expertise in issues related to the theme. Other events will include panel discussions, speakers, workshops, and a variety of cultural exhibitions.

Chen said summit organizers hope to produce a comprehensive document addressing concerns and issues raised during the course of the summit and to forward a copy of it to Prime Minister Jean Chretien and other officials prior to the APEC leaders' meeting.

Several other groups are organizing APEC-related activities.

* UBC AIESEC (a French acronym for International Association for Students in Economics and Commerce) members are planning the Youth APEC '97 Forum Oct. 2-3, which will bring young business ambassadors and other representatives of the Asia Pacific region together with students, academics, business leaders, non-governmental organizations and government representatives.

* The APEC-University Forum has been organized by UBC graduate students to provide information and discussion on APEC issues through meetings, panels and cultural events.

* APEC-Alert is holding rallies, panel discussions and other events to outline its opposition to the APEC leaders' meeting.

UBC students are also taking part as individuals in a range of APEC and CYAP (Canada's Year of Asia Pacific) academic and youth conferences.

More information about APEC and UBC's involvement can be found on the World Wide Web at under "News, Events, and Attractions."