Thursday, August 28, 2014
Last updated: 8 hours ago

Last Words: Idle Know More, Davis Cup and why UBC knowing about your financial need might be a bad thing

Milos Raonic is stoked about his wins in the Davis Cup. Photo comic Jonny Wakefield and Chris Borchert/The Ubyssey

Milos Raonic is stoked about his wins in the Davis Cup. Photo comic Jonny Wakefield and Chris Borchert/The Ubyssey

UBC admissions must remain need-blind

Figuring out whether prospective students need bursary money before they get to UBC makes a hell of a lot of sense. It’ll make sure that the (admittedly paltry) amount of money available goes to those who really need it, rather than just to those who put themselves through the university’s confusing bursary application process after they get here.

But UBC’s new plan to give students a one-stop financial aid assessment when they’re applying needs some serious checks before it comes into practice.

If UBC is going to collect financial information from incoming students before they’re admitted, we need an unequivocal, across-the-board, no-kidding declaration that applications will always and forever stay need-blind.

We know how hard-up for cash the university is right now. And we know they’re willing to fiddle around on the margins of the admission process to try and admit more students who will pay more money. They’re called international students. UBC can get away with trying to recruit unusually high numbers of them (like for the bachelor of international economics degree) or lowering the admission requirements for them (like for the soon-to-be-realized Bridge to UBC program) by tossing around words like “diversity” and “global perspectives.”

But collecting information on how much prospective domestic students can pay will make things different. This is the kind of information that could be abused very, very easily. We want UBC to store and evaluate this information in a way that is entirely separate from admissions decisions. The broad-based admissions program is still in its infancy, too, and there’s no transparency at all in how broad-based admissions decisions are made. And now that UBC’s student financial assistance department has been rolled into enrolment services, we aren’t even sure if separating the data would realistically be possible.

So they’re going to have to promise they’ll always continue to judge applicants based on their merit, rather than their wallets. We’re going to have to take them at their word.

No prospective student should ever have any reason to avoid applying for the bursaries they need out of fear it will taint the admissions process.

So far, we haven’t heard anything about this out of UBC at all. So we’re waiting on one hell of a promise.

UBC demonstrations a path forward for Idle No More

A social movement protesting centuries of injustice is never going to have an easy path forward.

That’s what we’re seeing with Idle No More, at this point. As we saw at last week’s UBC-based events, the movement is still going strong. A march on Thursday made a lot of noise and attracted a bunch of people throughout the day, and a jam-packed “Teach-In” Friday informed profs and students about the intricacies of aboriginal land claims.

But where is it going, exactly?

Chief Teresa Spence’s hunger strike put a timer on things for a while and injected a necessary sense of urgency. But it’s now clear that focusing a movement around an individual has its disadvantages: Spence has faded into the background somewhat.

Now, Idle No More runs the risk of becoming too generalized, of falling into the post-modern grab bag of protest movements.

It’s good to see UBC folks stoking the fires this long after the movement’s start. Perhaps reminders, like last week’s events, will be sustainable in the longterm.

Student presale made Davis Cup fun

Most people think of tennis as the old gentleman’s game that takes place on green pastures among British elites. But this was certainly not the case during the tennis matches played at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre this past weekend.

There was red and white everywhere, chants ringing throughout the arena and eruptions after every big point won by Canada. The chair umpire had trouble making sure the crowd was quiet; he often needed the help of some shushers in the crowd to silence everyone before a serve.

But really, all that didn’t matter. It’s a safe bet to say that everyone — except for the Spanish players, the few Spanish fans and perhaps a few cranky tennis traditionalists — loved the atmosphere. The players were fired up. Team Canada coach Martin Laurendeau was constantly fist-pumping. The fans roared. To say that the crowd had a significant impact on the games would be a huge understatement.

And a lot of this enthusiasm is thanks to the students in the crowd. UBC Athletics bought 300 tickets in December and set them aside for a student pre-sale, and sold them for $30 plus taxes and fees — a very reasonable price for students. It was a great decision that paid off this weekend.

But this student involvement may have longer-term effects. Students in attendance will have seen what this venue has to offer, and realize that it’s a great place to watch a sporting event. They will be sure to keep that in mind the next time they hear a game is going on there.

And watching this high level of tennis is bound to get at least a few people interested in the sport. UBC has a first-class tennis facility and a number of outdoor courts, so now that students have seen how exciting and fun tennis can be, they may be more inclined to pick up a racket.

When big events happen on campus, it only makes sense that students attend. Hopefully, these student presales will be a common occurrence in the future.