Here’s what happened at Santa Ono’s AMA last Friday

Geoff Lister

Santa Ono did an AMA this past Friday on Reddit and it was really great to read all of his replies and see all of the different questions posed by students, alumni and faculty — it wasn't even exclusive to UBC either, since some folks from the University of Cincinnati participated as well. Check out a few of the questions below.

Let’s start out with some fun ones:

“Hi Dr. Ono,

We have been wondering for a long time what the prospects are for getting a Chipotle on campus. If you have time, would you mind touching on this for us?” – mooosies

Ono replied in the way that we all hoped:

“I have to admit that Chipotle is one of my favourite fast food restaurants. I am looking into whether it might be possible to attract Chipotle somewhere on or near campus and will provide an update if I get any encouraging news. If it happens, I will see you in the lines ordering some food!”

“Hi Santa,

For Christmas can you send me a full paid tuition.

Thanks, I have been a good boy” – nothingofrelevancy

To which Ono realistically replied:

“Ha! For the sake of equity I encourage you to apply for one of our scholarships. I do not get involved personally in making those decisions.”

Can’t blame them for trying.

“Would you rather fight 100 duck sized horses, or one horse sized duck?” – Jontolo

“I’d rather fight the 100 duck sized horses because they’re little and not a threat... but a one horse-sized duck would be terrifying!”

“Any funny stories about your first name? Do people react weirdly when you give them your name at Starbucks, or do you use a fake name?” – neilrp

“People have been reacting strangely to my name from day 1, but you get immune to that, and one silver lining is that Santa is a name that elicits happy emotions — and it’s a great ice breaker when meeting someone for the first time!

At Starbucks, it depends on whether or not I am with family... if I am with family I use my middle name Jeremy, to save them from embarrassment!”

And there are some more serious ones:

“This week several professors received anti-social justice letters, recommending them to report ‘truth or social justice’ issues to you. How do you feel about this?” – simplemango

“This is a complex situation that involves the valid emotions of faculty members and students and would require a more detailed and comprehensive response that is possible here...

I am currently thinking about a statement that I will make in the near future that will reaffirm our commitment to academic freedom, but such a statement requires careful thought.”

“Hi Dr. Ono,

How do you feel about the rise in international tuition at UBC, and how do you expect it to change in the future?” – anonubcaccount

“Any increases in tuition are things that need to be thought through very carefully and I’m aware that the significant increases that occurred before my arrival were matters of significant debate, and any future increases in undergrad, graduate, professional, domestic or international tuition would only follow after proper consultation. I am committed to that.”

“Hi Dr. Ono, super vague question but how do you feel about the pace at which UBCs global ranking and reputation is changing (going from 34 to 31 in THE rankings for instance)? Are we ‘on track’ for your plan to get us to top 20 (thats the plan right)? To make it there what are some things you want to implement next?” – communalistwitch

“There are multiple rankings and UBC has ranked as high as 19, and as low as 50ish... and obviously the ones that rank us higher are the correct ones... LOL. :)

With all seriousness, there are three that we follow closely, the Times Higher Education rankings, US World Report, and Shanghai Rankings.

In all of those we rank in the low-to-mid 30s, and the uplift you mention is certainly gratifying. The more important thing is that we are developing a strategy to improve the metrics that underly these rankings, to hopefully elevate UBC to even greater heights.”

There were questions about life:

“Hey Dr. Ono, what is a piece of advice you would give to someone (perhaps an undergrad) about life in general?” – ZabO

To which Ono gave a profound reply:

“I would advise anyone to be honest with themselves about what they are passionate about. Whatever you choose as an area of academic concentration or as a career, pursue those activities based upon your true passions. There will be many people who try to influence what you do. But always remember that is your life not theirs and that you’ll have to live with the consequences of the decisions that you make at pivotal moments in your life.”

“Hi Dr. Ono,

As a student body, we love to see the way you engage in social media — whether it be Youtube, Twitter, or Facebook. Im incredibly excited to have you join us on Reddit.

Ive been keeping up with a good portion of your vlogs — and one of the things I notice is that you really enjoy the little things in life. Do you wish you had more time to partake in conversations with students? Or to experience campus culture more?”

And you didn’t think he could get any more profound:

“I absolutely enjoy the same ‘little things’ that many others enjoy. I enjoy watching the sun set. I enjoy watching a hummingbird hover over flowers. I enjoy watching fish within a pond. I enjoy the sounds of children laughing as they play with my daughters in the house. I enjoy listening to music both within a concert hall and from outside a building as I walk past the school of music. It really doesn’t matter whether it’s a beautiful piece of just scales. I love both the music and also knowing that someone is learning and creating in the process.

I certainly cherish all of my time with the faculty, staff, students and alumni of the University. We make time in my calendar to meet with thousands of people within a year, so there are actually many conversations that I already have with student. Even beyond that, I have scores of impromptu conversations around campus. But I am looking forward to my second year and experiencing even more of campus culture and getting to know even more members of our wonderful community.”

You can read the rest of the AMA here.