Apathy University

5 03 2014



It’s yet another cloudy, threatening-to-rain day in Vancouver. At the bus loop at UBC, some buses sit idly in their respective parking spaces while others weave this way and that — some coming into the loop, others leaving. There is an abundance of STUDENTS getting off buses and walking to their classes, while other students wait in line for their bus.

A 99 B-Line bus is slowly pulling up to the stop, where a massive line of students are waiting to board. A WOMAN (19), short, Asian, is plugged into her phone, listening to music. She nears the crosswalk, where other students have stopped to let the bus pull up to the stop before crossing the street. The Woman continues on, walking directly in front of the moving bus.

The bus drive HONKS at her for several seconds. She barely flinches, doesn’t even glance at it — just continues on as if the road is her bitch and buses are shit.

Welcome to Apathy University, located in Vancouver, Canada.

Freshpersons, Welcome to Debt!

17 10 2013

Yesterday, a student came by the Writing Centre with this article written by Barbara Ehrenreich. I gave the article a read and found myself laughing at the sheer satire, irony, and hyperbole of the piece, which I thought was very well-written and clever. The student was to talk about literary rhetoric devices but I was so interested in the article and how awesome it was that I think I was a bit scattered in what I had to say — there were so many things to talk about! Needless to say, the student wasn’t as enthralled as me, but he did seem interested in the English class he was taking. Hooray for that!



3 09 2013

A student called me “bubbly” today. I wanted to tell her how I don’t like people and am in fact very awkward with people, but all I could think of was, “You take that back right now!”

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)

A blog about the failings of UBC

22 01 2013

For one of my assignments for the Creative Writing for New Media class, we are to create a blog and write 5 posts.  I think this will be pretty easy, since 1. I already have a blog and know what to do and 2. I will probably not have a shortage of things to say, since I can go on and on about things (depending on what it is, of course).  I do have to come up with something of interest to readers; so far, I’ve come up with movie reviews for gay films, tracking my progress for making my next short film (or even that big documentary project I’ve been postponing for years), or even something like writing about the writing process of writing my creative non-fiction project (or some other assignment[s]).  And then I had a different idea!

How about a blog about the many horrible, disgusting, repulsive, shocking, angering, psychotic things UBC has done/continues to do?  There’s definitely no shortage of that going around.  I could call the blog “Reasons I am ashamed to be a UBC student”.  Now, you might be thinking, “Uh, okay, but, like, your teacher… uhh…”  And fair point.  Sure he might fail me.  But I suspect that he would actually find it quite interesting, as he is a writer, and writers are– or should be– open-minded about social issues and others’ opinions.  He also has a sense of good sense of humour (he’s done stand-up, I think he mentioned), and if I put some of my witticism in there, I think it would make for a good blog, or at least entertaining reading, about the school that is a place of one mind, not a place of mind.

Thoughts, Mr. Fluffet?

The Rat and the Desks

1 10 2012

Here is a translation of my short story, El ratón y los pupitres.

The Rat and the Desks

The worst day of the year: the first day of classes.

Between the flood of cars, kids, parents, teachers, and lots of noise, I sit in my jail for yet another year again, watching the crowds through the window.  On the blackboard, I’ve written “Mr. Lema.”  The desks in the room are dull, empty, and cold.  Slowly, students enter, talking in loud voices, laughing.  They never pay attention to me, never look at me.  When they fill the desks, I stand up.

“Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Sixth Grade.  My name is Mr. Lema,  your teacher.  We’re going to learn a ton of stuff this year.  I hope you’re all ready and excited.”

They all laugh.  I imagine that I am the joke they are laughing at.


I remember when I was a child.  I loved to learn everything — math, science, geography, music.  I was so curious about the entire world.  But when I see kids today, with their high-tech gadgets, their diverse and confusing vocabulary, their indifferent and bored faces, it’s all a reminder that these boys and girls aren’t like I was.  Enthusiasm, passion — it’s not there anymore these days.

Or maybe it never existed.


One day, the principal tells me that a new student is registering in my class.   I don’t think about this news much.  While the class arrives, I short and quiet boy, like a mouse, stands at the door.  He looks at the floor in silence.  But I can see something special in the eyes of this young boy, something shining, like a little diamond waiting to be mined.  During class, he doesn’t read, and seems afraid of everything.

The students are outside during recess.  I am sitting at my desk when I feel someone in the room.  It’s him, of course, and I smile because I see those shining gems.

For a month, during lunchtime, I help him with his studies, especially English.  I can feel the quiet passion in this little mouse, the curiosity in his constant questions.  He never tells me about his family or where he comes from.  Little by little, he talks more and more in class, better and better.

One Friday, we are in the Music Room.  He sees all the different instruments in awe.  I pick up a trumpet, my favourite instrument.

“Would you like to learn how to play this?” I ask him.  He nods, a smile on his face.

“It’s a small instrument but loud,” I say.  “I can teach you tomorrow.”


I haven’t seen him since that day.  People say his family simply left.

While the bored students arrive as usual, and the grand noise returns again, I sit at my desk and I notice the dull and flat desks in the room.  I notice that the students that fill the desks year after year, both waiting for nothing.


Dream 8

21 03 2011

Dream #1 in a series of 3 dreams (last entry was #2).  While typing this up, I noticed I say “weird” a lot.

Dream 8, March 27, 2005

I was at school in Mr. Mey’s room and it was supposed to be Law class, but there was a bunch of kids from my grade there, learning Socials (Anthony Lee, Ian, Jonny Wong) and me.  Mr. Mey was writing some notes on the board and I took out my notebook and started to write it down too cuz I said I really didn’t have notes (I have Mr. Sanky!).  I think people around me were kinda confused cuz I wasn’t supposed to be in their class but since I had Law, it was weird.  Then, some people in Law class started coming in and I told them Law was next block though it wactually isn’t.  Then, I saw this biology book and I looked in the cover and my name was on it!  Someone had taken my book and I had found it again.  Either the bell rang or everyone disappeared, I dunno.  I took my book and went to biology a weird route.  When I got inside, there were only a few desks and those desks were occupied by people.  I started walking over to Chels but only said hey when there weren’t any seats around her.  So I walked back to another empty desk and sat down (around Matthew and Merrick).  I believe they both started talking to me, kind hitting on me but Matthew was making it more obvious, especially when he took my hand.  I excused myself and went into the “old house kitchen”, sat near the fridge and started crying.

I think it was because I didn’t want to (and kinda still) fall in love with either of them, even though they are really great guys.  Then, one of them came in (I can’t remember who) ana dhe sat with me and it was nice.  I’m not sure if this next part is in the same dream but it’s school-related so I’ll put it here anyway.

I was in Ms Mersiadis’ class for French (?) and people were presenting these things.  I remember Jonny Won’g sthing and it was like this guy hiding.  His poster was quite big and just a drawing, compared to other people’s which were smaller and all writing.  Meanwhile, I was putting little stick-thing into a box divided into little squares.  I think I was trying to make them into candles but it would only work better if I took a whole bunch and tried to press them in; if I did it individually, it was harder to get them in straight, and they would angle in weirdly.  For some reason, the projector was on and the people had to go in front of the light and put the thing in front of the light and it would be magnified.  Joyce Lau was helping me with my weird thing, I think.  Some other people in Ms. Mersiadis’ class were there too (Duncan, Erica, etc.)  But Jonny is not in her class, he’s in my class for French which is weird.