Op-ed: Afford UBC is what students — not the AMS — make it

In a November 18 letter, student Mike Cameron took the AMS to task for our Afford UBC campaign, which he sees as a cynical PR move that the AMS supposedly knows will have no impact.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Afford UBC is one piece of a much larger effort by the AMS to preserve the affordability, accessibility and diversity of UBC in the face of the proposed 50 per cent international tuition increases, announced just four weeks ago, to be voted on December 3.

Our executive team is pursuing all channels to oppose the increases, including participating in the university’s formal consultation process, working on a thorough submission to the Board of Governors detailing the problems with UBC’s proposal and lobbying members of the Board. Afford UBC is the public-facing element of these comprehensive efforts.

The campaign is meant to inform and mobilize students to show the administration, the Board of Governors and the British Columbian public that we won’t take these unjustified, unaffordable and unacceptable tuition hikes lying down.

Cameron writes, “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that students would be opposed to tuition increases.” Unfortunately, we believe the university administration needs a reminder that UBC’s nearly 60,000 students are the heart of this institution and our voices must be taken seriously.

Cameron rightly notes that “the AMS holds no direct power over UBC’s decision making processes.” But with the student body visibly and vocally behind us, the administration and board will be hard-pressed to ignore the opposition we have been expressing throughout the consultation process and in our ongoing appeal to the Board of Governors.

That is precisely why we want to mobilize students — and so far, we’re off to a good start. Since launching on Monday, we’ve held six events, distributed over 1,000 pieces of literature and collected over 500 signatures on letters asking interim President Martha Piper to oppose the increases.

And we’re far from done. Come out to events and protests. Vote with your dollars by avoiding UBC Food Services outlets. Distribute the alumni petition to family and friends. Update your cover photo and throw a red button onto your bag or coat.

Turn out for the Afford UBC Rally to Stop Tuition Hikes today, November 23 at 11:45 a.m. in the Agora outside CiTR in the Nest.

Arno Rosenfeld is a fourth-year political science student and an organizer of the Afford UBC campaign.