Friday, October 24, 2014
Last updated: 40 mins ago

Last Words: Cuts to cheerleading, kudos to UBC Olympians and concerns over Bassnectar show

Comic Indiana Joel/The Ubyssey

Athletics funding continues to make no sense

The cheerleading team is having its funding cut. Or is it? Maybe they might still get that money, or not. They’re being told they’re not going to be able to compete, but that was never their job. We’re just as confused as you are.

UBC believes the cheerleading team (whose page on the Athletics website loads with a picture and paragraph on a 2011 tournament win) exists only to cheer at Thunderbird games. After the team requested more support for actual competition, the university has begun considering a list of options — chief among them offloading the team to the AMS as a club — to reconcile the two differing opinions on what a cheerleading team is supposed to do. In the meantime, the cheerleaders themselves have been told to be absolutely silent in terror of losing their funding, although UBC refuses to say how much funding they have in the first place.

When an external review of UBC Athletics came in earlier this summer, two major complaints were that, first, nobody knows what anyone else is doing, and second, the mechanism by which university funding for varsity students is doled out is opaque and impossible to understand. In the brave new post-review future, it’s clear that hasn’t changed one bit.

UBC presence at the Olympics is special

With the 2012 Summer Olympics coming to a close, we end one of our new favourite pastimes: watching people who may have been in our second-year French class compete for medals.

It is a rare and lucky thing to have 18 students and alumni from your community go to the Olympics, and one more to the Paralympics. It can be considered, in part, a return on investment in athletics, especially the money spent allowing alumni to train in UBC facilities.

In terms of athlete contingents, UBC’s is tied for 90th place with Vietnam, ahead of 116 other Olympic teams. The one bronze medal (thanks, Brent Hayden!) is a 79th place tie in total medal count.

These are people who lived and worked here, just like us. Many of them are still in school, and will be here next year. While we’re not all on the same academic level, they can serve as an inspiration for what we can do in our own lives.

Renting as a student sucks: what UBC can do about it

If you’re like most students at UBC, you’ve experienced the tough transition from the warm bubble of rez life to the cold reality of renting in Vancouver.

For those of you still trying to nail down that September 1 lease, we know your terror. The constant search on Craigslist for anything remotely affordable. The 50-person tours of a “character home” on the Westside that hasn’t been renovated since 1972. The rental contracts with blatantly illegal provisions in the addendum. The contempt of landlords who are forced to rent to students.

Let’s face it. Renting as a student in Vancouver sucks (though to be fair, renting to students isn’t the greatest either, we imagine). We’re not saying it’s the university’s job to hold our hands through this entire process. But for a school that isn’t able to house even half of its student population on campus, UBC does very little to prepare students for the rough-and-tumble Vancouver rental market. Beyond the AMS Rentsline wesbite and a page on the UBC Housing website, we’re told very little about our rights as renters.

Most landlords are scrupulous. But talk to anyone who’s had the kind of landlord who shows up unannounced, increases rent without notice or withholds a damage deposit; it can be a huge source of stress. UBC would do well to better equip its students to stand up for themselves when this happens.

Academic experience survey shows complexity of the engagement puzzle

Though the results of the AMS’s first-ever Academic Experience survey weren’t a shock, they do offer UBC valuable student feedback about life on campus.

Many of the statistics collected confirm what is already generally accepted: students commuting 30 or more minutes were the least likely to be involved in clubs and campus events, the most stressed out by course workloads, and overall least likely to have “school spirit.”

Looking at these results, it would be easy to assume reaching out to commuter students should be the biggest priority at UBC. However, one last survey result reveals how much more is required to create an engaged student community.

When asked if they felt the campus was developing to meet student needs, it wasn’t long-haul commuter students but rather those living on or close to campus who most strongly disagreed. Meaning students in closest proximity to UBC and likely spending the most time on campus are the most unimpressed with what’s available and the direction the university is headed vis-à-vis student life.

It seems it’s not only engaging commuter students with campus services that will create a community, but those services themselves that need changing. Develop the university to appeal to student needs; maybe then, more students (commuter or not) will feel like they have some kind of connection to this campus.

Ice couldn’t be thinner for upcoming UBC Bassnectar show

The prospect of a Bassnectar show on campus is exciting, regardless of your opinion on the wubwubwub set. For years, UBC Athletics has tried to secure a liquor primary licence for Doug Mitchell Arena, the massive winter sports arena on Wesbrook, in hopes of hosting regular DJ concerts.

Unfortunately, Athletics has a history of catastrophic failure when it comes to liquor. Back in 2009, they managed to botch both an event with a one-off Special Occasion Licence, and an event that was given no licence at all. Security was so bad that people got even more drunk on their own liquor — before, during and after the show.

Now Athletics is trying again, and the ice could not be thinner. They’re still in discussion over the licence for that show, a process that includes a mind-boggling amount of “shareholder consultation.” The University Neighbourhoods Association has to be happy, as does the RCMP, the Liquor Control Board, the University Endowment Lands and the AMS. In the past, a few angry homeowners have put the kibosh on such events, curtailing the arena’s proposed concert schedule from 12 events to two.

It’s a shame that a few homeowners (who knowingly moved onto a university campus near an Olympic freakin’ stadium) are able to stop a bunch of shows that students can actually get excited about. But to be fair, UBC Athletics has been awful at managing such events in the past. And with the department currently undergoing an unprecedented restructuring, it might very well decide that holding concerts for students doesn’t fit within its mandate (which is, by and large, to make money to support its own operations).

As usual, the real losers here will be students. With the way things are going, it seems likely that the Wiggles will be the only group taking the stage at the arena anytime soon.