These are the biggest news stories that changed UBC in 2020/21.

We rounded up the top stories that defined the year, as told by our news writers.

With a student body of over 50,000, something’s always happening at UBC. This year proved that — even if we spent most of it online.

Our writers have been working their asses off to break some of the most impactful stories on campus this year. Whether it was AMS missteps, the Proctorio problem or anti-racism, this coverage gives glimpses into the moments that defined a time that — whether you like the word or not — was utterly unprecedented.

Here are the ten biggest stories that impacted the UBC community in 2020/21.

Board Chair Michael Korenberg resigns following criticism over ‘regressive’ liked tweets

By Charlotte Alden and Andrew Ha

File Alex Nguyen

Within days of President Ono’s anti-racism commitments, Board of Governors Chair Michael Korenberg was found to have liked tweets criticizing modern anti-fascism movements and the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests.

While Korenberg had said in statements he supported the Black Lives Matter movement, he gave different reasons for liking the tweets: to The Ubyssey, he said he was unaware his likes were publicly viewable, and to PressProgress, he said he used Twitter likes to mark posts he’d read or wanted to read later. Korenberg later apologized and resigned from the Board on June 20. Nancy McKenzie replaced him a month later.

UBC group calls for removal of Hong Kong Police Force listing on CareersOnline

By Maneevak Bajaj and Matthew Asuncion

File Elizabeth Wang

News of the Hong Kong protests spread to campus last summer as the police force’s actions drew international criticism for alleged human rights violations. When members of activist group UBC Enlightenment of Hong Kong saw a posting from the Hong Kong Police Force for a probationary inspector on UBC CareersOnline, they urged the university to take it down. UBC said the choice to apply for any posting on the university-run job board lay with students and didn’t say whether it would take the listing down.

‘I have had enough’: Black student alleges racial profiling by UBC security

By Charlotte Alden and Andrew Ha

File Sarah Zhao

Social Justice Institute grad student Savoy Williams said he was trying to get into Buchanan Tower in June when a Campus Security officer questioned Williams’s student card and permission letter from his supervisor. Even though a custodian vouched for Williams, the officer barred him from entering the building. The university launched an internal investigation into the incident and commissioned an external review of Campus Security in November.

This incident occurred just over a year after a Black attendee of the Congress of Humanities and Social Sciences was racially profiled and harassed on campus.

UBC quietly changes references to Taiwan amid sensitive political climate

By Dorothy Settles

Ariel Qi

In July, The Ubyssey broke news that UBC had referred to Taiwan as a “province of China” in its 2019/20 enrolment report — a three-word addition that made international headlines. It drew the ire of the Taiwanese government, who directed its local consulate to demand that UBC change the reference.

“We urge the University of British Columbia not to bow to China and to correct how it addresses Taiwan,” said Ou Jiangan, a spokesperson for the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The university dropped the added wording shortly after.

Dr. Amie Wolf fired, sends threatening email amid Indigenous heritage scrutiny

By Charlotte Alden

File Jasmine Foong

A story that initially appeared to be about an Indigenous adjunct professor criticizing the university for interfering in her decolonization teaching turned into a story of a professor with a dubious Indigenous heritage doxxing 12 students online — likely the same students who she said weren’t receptive to decolonization education.

Dr. Amie Wolf’s story defined the beginning of 2021 as critics as far as Nova Scotia questioned her identity and motives online. UBC fired Wolf in February.

Prof denies misleading students amid accusations of ‘over 100 cases of cheating’ in MATH 100

By Paloma Green

Jasmine Foong

An introductory calculus prof accused his students of cheating on a midterm last November, which sparked extensive conversation around academic misconduct, Chegg and understanding with students — who AMS VP Academic and University Affairs said deserved compassion due to the stresses of the pandemic.

Rumours swirled around the possibility of a “Chegg trap” where the instructor planted quiz questions on the study help site, but Chegg said that was impossible since posted questions were answered by employees.

Sauder students defend economics of slavery in ‘tone-deaf’ class presentation

By Andrew Ha and Charlotte Alden

File Nadya Rahman

“All the political incorrectness is meant to be taken in jest, and is not meant to offend anyone.”

That’s what a professor wrote in the assignment that led a group of students to present slavery as a means of economic innovation in the Columbus era. The assignment, part of COMM 382, Economics of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, asked students to pitch an enterprise to the Queen of Spain for venture capital, but it was blasted for its insensitive treatment of colonialism. Sauder apologized and said it spoke to the students about the assignment as questions arose over whether business students were getting adequate ethics education.

Proctorio sues UBC staff member for tweets sharing ‘confidential’ information about the software

By Charlotte Alden and Andrew Ha

File Kristine Ho

UBC’s Proctorio problem began when faculty scrambled to plan the virtual delivery of their final exams in April. As concern grew among students over their privacy and discriminatory algorithmic remote proctoring software, Proctorio sued UBC staff member Ian Linkletter, a vocal critic of the company, for sharing Proctorio training videos. Court dates for what Linkletter has called a “groundless” case are set for later this month.

AMS president recommends conflict of interest review for exec and ThePlug President Kalith Nanayakkara

By Jackson Dagger

Jasmine Foong

From November to April, VP External Kalith Nanayakkara was the subject of a conflict of interest investigation around his events company ThePlug Vancouver, which co-hosted a controversial pub crawl with AMS Events that flouted public health guidelines. The committee finally released a decision in April, recommending that Nanaykkara apologize for an “apparent” conflict of interest, but not a real one.

COVID-19 likely isn’t enough to stop UBC’s annual tuition increases

By Tina Yong

File Patrick Gillin

Like clockwork, UBC put its annual proposal to increase tuition to student consultation in January — and students weren’t happy. Many were concerned that UBC was taking advantage of them during financially difficult times brought on by the pandemic. While the annual fee hikes are largely accepted as fact and are likely to be approved in April 2021, the AMS and student Board of Governors reps are asking UBC to better plan its tuition model for future students.

“Don’t claim that you care about your students when you just see us as walking chequebooks,” one student said. The Finance Committee approved the increases on April 7, to be sent to the full Board on April 19.

Honourable mentions

UBC alumna and activist Loujain al-Hathloul released after 1,001 days in Saudi prison

By Charlotte Alden and Andrew Ha

Twitter

Loujain al-Hathloul was arrested in 2018 after defying the Saudi Arabian ban on women’s right to drive. Both UBC and student government called on the Canadian foreign ministry to secure the Nobel Peace Prize nominee’s safe release — and one terrorism court sentencing and nearly three years in prison later, she was released.

Clause in UBC housing contract could leave students unexpectedly homeless this fall

By Vik Sangar

File Will McDonald

A COVID-19 update to the UBC residence contract gave Student Housing and Community Services the authority to remove students from residence if they deem it necessary due to the pandemic. UBC said it would only enact the clause — which said the university wouldn’t provide students with alternate accommodations in case it was used — in worst-case situations. After backlash, the university removed the part saying it wouldn’t provide other housing, but concerns remained that the new wording wasn’t enough.

International students deal with gaps left by CERB, CESB

By Matthew Asuncion

File Zubair Hirji

COVID-19 benefits like the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) helped UBC students over the summer who lost or couldn’t find jobs due to the pandemic. But international students were left out of CESB entirely, and the requirements for CERB made it hard for them to be eligible.

“People who go to university [here] are those that want to make a change, to create solutions,” said one international student. “It would be better to make them feel included rather than left out because of the impact that they can create here.”