As students face a possible transit shutdown this week, the AMS intends to keep the Nest open round the clock.
While some students have proposed pitching tents on Main Mall with bus operators set to picket November 27 to 29 as part of their labour dispute, another option might be available: staying overnight in the Nest.
“The AMS exists to support students and by opening up the Nest for 24 hours during the transit strike, we hope to add an additional on-campus resource for students who may be affected,” said Cole Evans, AMS VP administration.
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Wednesday through Friday, the Nest’s typical hours are from 7 a.m. to midnight, but the AMS wants to leave Nest doors open through the night during upcoming transit outages.
Extended hours will provide an alternative for commuters like Aaron Tong, fourth-year visual arts and human geography student. Tong said that ongoing job action, such as bus operators’ refusing overtime shifts, has resulted in cancellations impacting his commute from Richmond.
“If the Nest was open 24 hours, I actually would consider staying there overnight if there was adequate space for everyone,” Tong said in a message to The Ubyssey. “I’ve gotten used to staying until 1 a.m. to finish art projects before at school and staying overnight wouldn’t be difficult.”
Tong questioned how the space would be organized.
“It might be hard to find a balance between people who choose to sleep or study though in my opinion,” he said.
Evans said that in ongoing discussions to plan for extended Nest hours, the AMS Operations Committee is considering “designated quiet areas where students would be allowed to sleep.”
No rules currently prevent students from sleeping in the Nest during opening hours, but Evans explained that those staying overnight must obey guidelines that will be posted. Tents won’t be permitted, although security workers likely won’t tell prospective campers to leave.
“Don’t expect for anybody to be kicked out just because they try to bring a tent in,” he said.
Less than $5,000 is needed to contract security workers who will monitor the Nest during extended hours, according to Evans.
“Student safety is our top priority and we’ll be contracting security services to be on patrol … overnight to ensure that students who remain in the building during that time will be safe and will have a sense of safety around them,” he said.
The money will come from the AMS contingency fund, but under society policy, AMS Council must pass a motion to suspend code and allow for contingency withdrawals of under $5,000. Evans is “optimistic” his motion will pass at the Wednesday Council meeting. Even if the motion fails, Evans said funds could come from other sources such as the society’s central operating budget.
“Obviously, students will probably want to know what plans are before Wednesday night, so the goal is to worry about students first, money second.”
Reddit users have raised concern over washroom maintenance, food availability and building capacity. Evans responded that the AMS will plan with UBC Building Operations and that he doesn’t “anticipate that the building will be over capacity.”
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The possibility of a bus workers’ walkout has left students such as third-year psychology major Carmen Xu looking for alternatives. Xu’s commute comprises two buses and the Canada Line, and she said that some of her routes have already faced cancellations.
Xu said she was “fortunate enough” to have accommodations near UBC so she wouldn’t stay in the Nest overnight.
“I do have friends that have offered [to let me stay over],” she said. “I also persistently bug them. I was like, if I do get stranded, can I stay over?”
Besides sleeping closer to campus, both Xu and Tong have considered car share services such as Evo and car2go but worry about the costs.
“I wouldn’t probably use it mainly because it would be so expensive … since you’re being charged 41 cents a minute [for Evo],” said Xu. “And if you get stuck in traffic, it’s pretty bad.”
But with more severe service disruptions looming in the future, Xu hopes that the transit labour dispute will soon be resolved.
“I do support the transit workers and I feel like it’s definitely hard because even though they are unionized, they won’t be able to get the support they need,” she said.
“I just hope it doesn’t escalate as far as [the] last time it happened because it happened for four months.”