Problems with UBC: Snooty zombie students

8 03 2013

“Well, even if construction is annoying, and the AMS doesn’t give a shit about me, and my education is poor for all the tuition that I pay, I know I’ll be in the same boat with the other 45,000 students on campus.  At least I’ll make some friends — I hear Vancouverites are friendly and as a university campus, students are always lively.”

I will be honest.  I have been ripping apart UBC and all its failings, but this one is a littler harder to be rip on, mainly because it’s difficult to specify what UBC students are like as opposed to students in general.

My first experience involved my older sister, who graduated from UBC many years ago.  During my time at Langara College, she would always talk-down to me, making fun of me for wasting my time at a college and saying my Associate Degree was “nothing”.  Because she never said what was so bad about going to a college, she came off as elitist and just plain annoying.  In fact, many UBC students have this air of superiority about them, as if they’re smarter than everyone else who goes to any other school in Vancouver.

I would say their choice to go to UBC is reflection of their intelligence.  Which is to say they’re often sheeple.

As well, there is a noticeable keep-to-yourself attitude in Vancouver, and especially with young people.  I remember when UBC did a lip-dub featuring students, a user commented saying it was about time the UBC united and did something together, as it was a very fractured community.

I believe part of the reason why UBC students are anti-social is because of the campus location: it is almost as far west as you can possibly go in Vancouver.  UBC is also not technically part of Vancouver, and and has its own police and certain voting regulations.  So it’s no wonder that sometimes it feels as if UBC is on an island on its own, a city of young people, far away from the real world.

Yes, there are many clubs.  But the problem is that for whatever reason, students aren’t much interested in joining these clubs.  I’ve joined two clubs in September, and I have yet to actually participate in either of them (although the Film Society isn’t so much a club as it is getting discounts for movies).

I think the problem with the lack of student engagement in a social level is the emphasis on schoolwork.  There’s just way too much homework/reading/studying to do anything fun.  And around midterm season, you can basically forget about doing anything fun with anyone — people go and hide their faces in textbooks for days on end.  Maybe that’s the reason for the AMS attempting to build a microbrewery (a separate issue I have, but that’s another story): to get everyone to lighten the fuck up and talk to each other (or if they’re talking, it’s always about grades and/or assignments, never about personal things that real friends talk about).

Again, perhaps this is just a student problem, not a UBC problem.  On the other hand, I think this comment, in an article about UBC’s anti-social nature, sums up the school’s mentality pretty well:

UBC makes it clear that its focus is on research, not on students. That’s pretty much the heart of the problem; campus is a bunch of offices, with a few exceptions that feel forced or contrived — and they’re packed, because they’re all there is. Maybe the new SUB will help, but then, too, we’re a commuter university, surrounded by parks and houses. There’s no close-by town area where non-res students can afford to live in higher density and where rent is low enough that kitchy stores and venues can afford to open. The Wesbrook is just another high-priced glass-and-brick Vancouver corporate development, absolutely soulless. So students don’t hang around; campus is dead after 5:00pm.

So if you’re looking for a school that is flooded with pacified students during the day, who walk around silently and avoid eye contact, and then is empty by night — or if you’re interested in what the zombie apocalypse might look like, look no further.

— Taking the You out of UBC

This is sad because it’s true.

Problems with UBC: AMS (a.k.a. Assholic Moronic “Students”)

6 03 2013

“Alright.  So the UBC bureaucracy has no semblance of common sense when it comes to money.  But I’m smart.  We students are smart.  At least the Alma Mater Society (AMS), which is run by my fellow students, has a positive influence on UBC and my university experience.”

I am in my first year of studies at UBC, but as a transfer student, I am starting in 3rd year.  I have already taken about 4 years of studies prior to transferring to UBC.  When I arrived at UBC, I continuously heard about some group called the AMS, yet the descriptions of this group and what they do was always vague at best.  Confused, I asked my friend who is in his third year, “What exactly does the AMS do?”

His answer was immediate: “Nothing.”

Surely that couldn’t be true.

Back in 2011, there was a provincial protest in Victoria held by several universities against rising tuition and student debt.

The total number of UBC students?  Eight.  None were members of the AMS.

Here’s the hilarious thing: when asked why he and the AMS didn’t go, the then-president said they couldn’t afford the transportation.


I get that buses can be expensive, but couldn’t you just all pile into a car and drive there?  Would that have been so hard, to even get one of you there?

Or maybe you should have paid for transportation yourself, with the $25,000 cheque you receive every year for not attending important political events.  And then you have the audacity to give yourselves a bonus when UBC is itself in debt, which, not only is this obviously a conflict of interest, but the fact that the money is coming out of students’ pockets is absurd (and why does seemingly no one care about this??).  And then hide this raise with some bullshit about a vague process of listing goals to earn this money when this process — and these lists themselves — don’t exist.  Perhaps this quote sums up the AMS best: “a bunch of 18–21-year-old political nerds fucking around with your student fees.”

I don’t quite understand student unions.  To me, they are a paradox.  You vote for a student to represent you and your interests, then pay them a large sum to work for you.  But by giving them such a generous salary, doesn’t that, in a sense, make them less of a student when many are struggling with debt?  Sure, you don’t have to be a poor student to understand poor students, but when you decide it’s more important to award yourself more money and then say you’re hard at work to make the art collection available online — that’s just a big f- you to your fellow, debt-drowning students.

But if this isn’t enough comedy for you, my favourite story about this group of wannabe intellectuals is the incident involving then-VP Admin Caroline Wong (now somehow President) kicking out a homeless woman from the Womyn’s Centre, claiming it was for safety reasons, since there were no overnight security guards.  As if it would be safer for this woman elsewhere, with no place to stay.  A classmate of mine, who interviewed Jennie Roth, the manager of the centre, said the AMS responded with statements such as “it’s not really the university’s business”.

I think that statement about sums up the indifference of the AMS towards students’ well-being at UBC.  You’re in trouble?  Fleeing from an abusive partner?  Well, you can’t stay here.  Sucks to be you. 

Mostly, I can’t believe Wong.  She seemed unprepared and unsympathetic, not to mention she puts Arts students to shame for her lack of understanding about women’s safety and sexual health concerns.  Also ironic is that the AMS has apparently spent a considerable amount to stay at fancy hotels but hasn’t fixed this issue after the incident.

Of course, this is all based one articleI don’t know for sure what happened.  But if it was true, and Wong did in fact do what she did, well, then the AMS just plain sucks.

Taking the You out of UBC

Stephen Toope and the then-president of the AMS spew sparkly propaganda at you that reminds me of cheesy VHS educational tapes I watched in high school. (I find this even more hilarious than the other video, especially because Toope is clearly trying really hard)