Over the years, I’ve heard many different and ironic interpretations of the University of British Columbia (UBC)’s acronym. There’re some less politically correct ones, “University of Billion Chinese” for example, referencing the high numbers of students with Chinese ancestry at the school [sometimes I get the feeling that students of different Asian backgrounds are ignorantly lumped into this category]; some downright hilarious ones “University of Bacon Cooking” [pokes fun at our school logo and what it looks like if you change the blue waves to red, see here.], and lately: “University of Billion Construction”.
Construction just never seems to stop at UBC. The building of the new SUB (student union building) is perhaps one of the projects that impact the most students right now (in fact, it impacts every single one of us who happen to use the SUB), but it is by no means the only project. No more cutting across the open space next to the old SUB to get to Hebb Theatre, no more Knoll (a symbolic grassy hill where students like to hang out on rain-less days, used to also be a place of protest), even the statue of the Goddess of Democracy has been relocated (although it looks more impressive where it is now).
The area next to the bookstore where a parking metered lot used to be has been transformed into what would eventually be a series of water features, and a fountain now stands there marking the geographic centre of campus. Students ask: do we really need all these water features? Although aesthetically pleasing, funding for such construction comes from our tuition. Just as funding for the new SUB has increased over the years in our student fees. We are building a future for students who have not even stepped foot onto campus, because surely the construction will not be completed until many of us are graduated. But is this a future that fosters learning and education? Will students feel more connected to campus if there is a fountain marking the symbolic crossroad on campus? Will old buildings with character get the renovation they need (think: Chem lecture seats), or will we just construct new buildings whose heating system is wonky 99% of the time (any Pharm students want to comment on that?)? We may be building a future that is easier on the eyes of tourists, but are we building a better future for our students, both present, and future?
Only time will tell.
Graffiti on dumpsters tend to stay for a long time, if not forever.
*Edit: post has been edited for clarification, also this excerpt from our student newspaper (The Ubyssey) deserves a read and echoes my sentiments perfectly.