UVSS elections see three slates
Those already following the ongoing election campaign at the University of Victoria Student Society are likely describe the whole thing as “quite a mess.” Students at UVic are being asked to choose between Encompass UVic, Unite UVic, and Woke UVic. The decision could have a vast impact on the direction of the organisation.
2015-16 year tumultuous year for the UVSS
Unite UVic is the slate of the status quo, with candidates from the current board of directors re-running. The above image from Unite highlights two touted benefits of Unite’s UVSS, the health plan rates and bus pass costs. However, the health plan cost comparison is fairly silly, even outright incorrect. Unite compares similar plans at over $600 in their material, but UBC students pay 218.66 and SFU students pay $198, with an option for an enhanced $255 plan. Further, the UVSS keeps the cost of its plan low by making it difficult to even actually claim maximum coverage for health care with “per visit” maximums much lower than the cost of actual health care services.
We don’t mean to pick on Unite here, those are just the facts.
The UVSS has done some bread and butter student activist work in the 2015-2016 academic year. Unlike many of the province’s cowardly students’ unions, the UVSS organised a day of action on February 3 to fight for lower tuition fees. Though only a tiny number of students showed up to the rally the UVSS organised at the legislature, it can take years for students on a campus to build up to effective actions.
In addition to tuition fee campaigns, the people running with Unite have been responsible for the growing Let’s Get Consensual campaign. Without the UVSS’s campaign, many schools would have no materials or training to talk about consent with students. Unite candidate Kenya Rogers has been a prominent component of that work.
Campaign work aside, the UVSS has made some strange mistakes over the last year. From being bullied into holding referenda at the wrong time to sending delegates to meetings of the anti-union Canadian Federation of Students meetings, the current regime leaves something to be desired.
Three slates, opposing views
Without going into vast detail, which is certainly possible, here are some key points from the platforms and the campaign:
You know if “Redesign the Website” is a prominent part of a platform, then something has gone wrong. Encompass UVic is the slate of Stephen Harper, if he had been a hemp wearing engineer. Don’t be fooled, this is the right-wing. Nothing about the Encompass UVic platform speaks to reducing tuition fees or campaigning against high student debt.
Encompass has had two anonymous complaints against it so far. It is actually kind of shocking that anonymous complaints are allowed (we think that, and this is an anonymous blog). You should be able to face your accuser, that is a basic part of natural justice.
We tried to contact Encompass UVic for an interview, but they didn’t get back to us before we posted this.
From the Unite UVic platform:
“The Unite team is passionate about accessible post-secondary education. We will work with students, for students to ensure that every student has access to post-secondary education because we fundamentally believe that education should be a right and not a privilege. We will fight increases to tuition fees for both international and domestic students and will lobby the provincial government to eliminate student loan interest rates, implement a tuition freeze and reinstate a system of needs-based grants for low and middle income students. Our core goal is to work towards the gradual elimination of tuition fees across the country.”
The highlighted section is what students should be looking for. These policies represent the critical four points to making education more accessible.
Students know what they will get from Unite UVic.
From the Woke UVic platform:
“Lobby for a tuition freeze
The University of British Columbia is currently lobbying the Government of BC to remove the 3.5% tuition fee increase limit, allowing BC Universities the unlimited ability to increase their tuition. Woke UVic is committed to creating campaigns that will lobby the Government to prevent these decisions, and will in addition, use the student seats on UVic’s Board of Governors to prevent the University from joining UBC’s lobbying efforts, opposing possible tuition fee increases from all angles“
This is a great campaign pillar.
The Woke UVic platform reads as if every member of the slate was allowed to include everything they wanted. There is little focus to it, and it would be entirely impossible to achieve, a classic example of inexperience striving for too much.
That said, the Woke UVic team isn’t responsible for any of the nonsense that the UVSS engaged in during the current year. This is a likewise progressive slate of students who would carry on some of the campaign work of the Unite team. They also made the best students’ union campaign video BC has seen in maybe ever.