Tuesday, April 10, 2007

University Boulevard

There is an interesting petition circulating around Facebook (the new place for activism, it seems).

I've skimmed it and it made some excellent points, so here is a link:
University Boulevard Petition

Rationale (from the website linked):

Listen to what students want! The “What’s the plan” campaign produced a really excellent review that reports the following, based on student comments:
• There needs to be more formal and informal indoor and outdoor meeting spaces with ample seating.
• Outdoor spaces need to have more seating and should be reflective of the natural surroundings of the UBC-Vancouver campus.
• More multi-use spaces that include computer access are required on campus, e.g., for studying, socializing and eating.
• Many participants noted the Forestry Building Atrium and the Grassy Knoll as types of public spaces that work on campus
• Maintain greenspace and viewscapes.
The U-Town plan specifically undermines every single one of these comments; each is either ignored or the opposite idea is being implemented. The biggest problem with the U-Blvd plan is the lack of consultation with students, and even now when student feedback about our public spaces is available, it is blatantly disregarded.

What is the solution to the 5-year fiasco that is the U-Blvd development project? People need to speak out, loud and clear, that what is planned (if this poorly thought out project can even be described by such a word) must be reconsidered. The land use options for the heart of our campus need to be revisited. We need to go back to square one and ask, “What do students want to do with this space? What does the heart of campus look like in the ivy-league schools we try to emulate the most? What are all of our possible options?" In order to achieve this awakening of our university’s leaders who are running blindly like mad horses over the edge of a cliff, a petition is circulating, calling on the Board of Governors to stop what they’re doing, consult students first, and implement our visions.

Print a copy of the petition (or pick one up from the SUB Rescource Center), sign it, get your friends/roommates/peers/profs/students to sign it, and return it to the Resource Center, SUB rm 245, by April 30, so it can be presented at the next BoG meeting at the beginning of May 2007, when U-Blvd construction is slated to be approved. We need to stop these disastrous plans before they become a reality. It’s in our power to stop this with nothing more than our signatures and our optimism.

Look at the Petition content behind the jump.

Dear Board of Governors and AMS Student Council,
We, the students, staff and faculty of the University of British Columbia would like to take this opportunity to inform you that we are strongly opposed to the proposed University Boulevard development project.

1. University Boulevard, a space located at the heart of UBC campus and used by students for social and learning needs, should not be developed on a cost-recovery model, and should prioritize student needs for learning and social spaces over retail space, particularly at a time when studies are showing a decrease in the quality of our education; and

2. There has been vastly inadequate consultation of students, the AMS Student Council, and the University Town Committee throughout the various stages of this development project; and

3. Students are dismayed by the loss of the grassy knoll, the lack of green space, and the allowance of car traffic on the intersection, which will disrupt the atmosphere and decrease the safety of the area; and

4. The un-expandable underground bus loop will not accommodate future increases to transit service to campus, and will not serve the needs of students or University Town residents; and

5. The >$30 million funding for the underground bus loop through IIC’s could be better spent on greatly needed services such as daycare, where there is currently a waiting list of 1300; and

6. Competition from new businesses (not guaranteed to be local or ethical) will decrease usage of the SUB and negatively affect student-run and funded businesses.

Therefore, we the undersigned call on UBC and the Board of Governors to refrain from approving any further decisions on the University Boulevard project until meaningful consultation revisiting land use options has occurred with students, the AMS Council, and the University Town Committee; and to develop and follow policies guaranteeing that the decisions and principles arrived at through meaningful consultation will be implemented.
We further call on the AMS Student Council to adopt a policy addressing the above-mentioned student concerns.