Open letter to Martha Piper, re: loss of credit card payments

Dear President Piper,

On behalf of the residents of Acadia Park, I would like to express our concern regarding the recent loss of our ability to pay for our housing and tuition with our credit cards. We have been in conversation with VP Finance Andrew Simpson regarding this matter and he has addressed some of our questions. Still, we feel that there are some problems that derive from the university’s decision to stop accepting credit card payments that the university has not sufficiently solved, and we would appreciate any help you can offer.

We understand that UBC is under financial pressure and we appreciate the university’s need to make efficient use of its funds.  Similarly, we want you to understand that we students are under financial pressure, and we hope that you appreciate our need to make efficient use of our funds. The recent change in your credit card policy has made it more difficult for some of us to do this.

Mr. Simpson has provided some very helpful insight into the university’s rationale for discontinuing its relationship with the credit card companies.  What remain lacking, unfortunately, are mitigating solutions to alleviate the financial burden that this has shifted onto the students.  Mr. Simpson recommends that students facing hardship in making timely payments approach Enrolment Services for help. We have done this and found that Enrolment Services will charge substantial penalties to any student who is unable to pay fees on time from their bank account.  Mr. Simpson also recommended that incoming foreign students use no-fee wire transfer services to make their required payments.  We have been unable to find such services. In fact, some of us have had to personally provide financial services to incoming foreign students who could not make payments by credit card.  This strikes us as an unprofessional environment.

Ultimately, the university’s decision to save money by severing its relationship with the credit card agencies has had a financially punitive effect on students.  We feel this is unfair and we would like your help in remedying this hardship.

Finally, those of us who signed contracts for this academic year did so in good faith that our fees and methods of payment would be honoured.  We are disappointed, and somewhat alarmed, that they have not been.  

It is a privilege to attend the University of British Columbia and a delight to live in Acadia Park. We are proud of our school and we hope the university will continue to make decisions that maintain its excellent standing and attract top talent from around the world.

Kind regards,

Eric Douglas

President, Acadia Park Residents’ Association