Sunday, January 14, 2007

Issue of the Day: Campus Development

Welcome to the first of our Issue of the Day series, where we profile an important campus and student issue, and ask our readers, including candidates, to comment on it.

(It's important to note that the definition of allowable passive campaigning includes "letters to the editor and articles written by... candidates" and "responding to inquiries from the media about elections plans." Which covers participating in these types of questions.)

Our first: Campus Development

You may have noticed that the campus is a giant construction zone. If you haven't, you're probably blind. As with any issue, there are many perspectives. Those who support the (general) development will generally argue:

  • Institutional (classroom and lab space, etc) development supports the learning environment, and allows for sustainable development.
  • Residential development contributes to the endowment, and generates income for students in the long term. Specifically, the University leases the land for 99-year leases, and develops the property, so people can live there at market rates. The commercial property developers are free to develop how they want, at the prices they want; all that goes to UBC is the land lease money.
  • It's going to build community, by ensuring that people can live, shop, work, and study here, instead of having to go into Vancouver, and this will make a more vibrant campus experience.
  • The density will result in less transportation, and a more sustainable community.
Those who generally oppose the development have their arguments as well:
  • It destroys student culture, by making us beholden to their interests. For instance, is ACF threatened because residents don't like the noise in their neighbourhood? And will there be noise complaints by people living near the SUB?
  • The development is chewing up green space, and possibly the Farm, which is designated as a future housing reserve. As a result, it's unsustainably destroying the ecology.
  • It's too expensive, and no students will be able to afford to live there; students should be the priority, since living on campus is beneficial.
  • Construction is loud, expensive, and disruptive.
So, what do you think? In particular we invite candidates to comment, but all are welcome. Please, comment. It helps get your ideas out.

What should the AMS position on development be? Which of the arguments do you find persuasive? What would you add? How would you make the case for whichever side you support? Have I merely established a false dichotomy?