Monday, January 15, 2007

UBC Okanagan

Fun fact: The AMS isn't UBC's only student society. Similarly, not all UBC students go to school in Vancouver.

Did you know that? You probably did, but it probably took some reminding, some prompting. UBC-O isn't front of mind these days, but it probably should be. Why?

  • The "degree equity" matters. A UBC degree is only worth as much as UBC's reputation. So UBC-V students have a vested interest in making UBC-O is as good as its older sibling.
  • Money, and subsidies. Did you know that UBC-V residents subsidize UBC-O residence construction? Your rent is helping to build housing in Kelowna. That's because housing is "system-wide," with revenues from Vancouver offsetting the costs in the Okanagan.
  • Rankings. While the importance of rankings is questionable, there's no doubt that UBC's ranking (in any number of surveys) will include outcomes from both campuses.
  • Institutional priorities. UBC-O is new, and the government and UBC have a lot riding on its success. It gets a lot of attention.
So what are the implications for the student movement? Read more behind the cut.

There is little to no history of co-operation between the student movements at the respective campuses. In fact, OUC-SAC (the OUC student union) changed its name to UBC Students' Union in what appears to be something of a swipe at the AMS, and what was perceived as a monopoly on student representation. Moreover, the national CFS/CASA tension is clearly evident in the relationship between the two campuses. UBC-O has a rich CFS heritage, which tends to manifest itself in more adversarial, less collaborative lobbying efforts. By contrast, the AMS has a tradition of working with the University, with less central control. Heck, UBC-SUO refused to sign a letter (drafted by the AMS) asking the government to amend the University Act to allow international students to sit on University boards.

This causes problems. The central tension was illustrated at the Board meeting in 2006 during the discussion surrounding tuition. The AMS "supported" the tuition increase, while UBC-SUO opposed it. The absence of any coherent vision or agreement on principles really undermined the arguments we made, in opposition to the hikes.

We don't mean to suggest that V and O must agree on recommendations each time, or that they all have to say the same thing... but purely contradictory approaches help nobody, and seriously cripple the ability to get things done. So we hope that relations with UBC-O become a priority, and, more importantly, managed effectively. There's too much potential to work together for it not to happen.