Last Words: Animal testing, tech troubles and empty rez rooms

UBC's animal rights progress is good, but not an end point

UBC has released its yearly report on the animals that it uses for research and, in typical UBC fashion, they want us to know all about how great they are at releasing the information when no other university does the same. While UBC definitely does the right thing by making these numbers available and accessible, we also don’t like that the media release makes it seem like being transparent about the animals that you use for research deserves praise. UBC likes to brag about being a leader in just about every area of education and innovation, so using the ‘other-universities-are-being-sneaky-so-we-could-too’ excuse doesn’t seem cool.

And then there are the numbers themselves. While the categories about the animals used are vague (‘large mammals’ could mean anything from gorillas to elephants to giraffes), the ones on the purposes are even worse (What exactly is ‘educational purposes’? Is the term ‘basic research’ clear-cut to the average person reading the report?).

This type of information leaves many questions unanswered and even though these categories are established by the Canadian Council on Animal Care rather than the university, this doesn’t mean UBC shouldn’t do even more to keep us informed about the types of animals it is using. The problem seems to be that UBC is treating their current policy, at least to an extent, as an end point — ‘we’re better than our counterparts so we don’t have to do anymore.’ But for school that prides itself on sustainability and moral responsibility, we should strive to go for something beyond ‘better than the rest and that’s enough.’

Don’t just stay one step ahead of everyone else — go into a higher league altogether and inspire other universities by example.

SSC and and U-Pass problems plagued first day back

The first few weeks back at UBC were plagued with infrastructural and technical problems, namely a severe dearth of U-Passes and problems with the SSC. Sometimes, these kinds of problems are unavoidable. But sometimes it’s a result of poor planning and administration.

The SSC wasn’t down for long, but when students can’t access their course schedules and financial information (especially when tuition is due in two days), there’s a bit of a problem. There were probably a fair number of people who missed a class (or two!) because they didn’t know what building it’s in. In fact, this happened to some of our editors.

As for U-Passes, the problem was both technical and administrative. The machine was down for a couple hours, which is rough on what was the first day back for most people. But all machines were out of passes at least as of Sunday, which means that people either have to pay for a service that they’re already paying for (due to the machines not being refilled in a timely manner), or they simply don’t pay and chance getting fined a couple hundred dollars. Our editors know a few people who were caught at UBC without change, leaving them unable to pay the fare for transit even if they wanted to.

The U-Pass program is great, and we understand that it’s probably a challenge to keep it organized — but if things don’t go according to plan, some sort of alternative should be made available and the problem should be remedied as quickly as possible.

Empty rez rooms and overcrowded floor lounges

Some of our editors have heard this week that there are certain rooms in residence that are currently unoccupied following the winter break. One member of our staff has knowledge of several rooms in Fairview Crescent that have remained empty since exchange students left in December.

While we have very little knowledge of the reasoning behind this, it does seem odd considering the reported demand for rez at UBC. We can only speculate but it would be a little worrying if students on the waitlist were not lined up to fill these spots. Yet right now that is apparently the case; residents of four-bedroom townhouses reported that some of the rooms in their houses are vacant with seemingly no indication of an impending new tenant.

Hopefully the ever-dependable Student Housing and Hospitality Services (SHHS) has a solution to this problem. However, we at The Ubyssey are more than a little concerned that there are rooms free at this time of year.

If it’s just a matter of the rooms having been vacated by single-term exchange students, the problem should be easy enough to solve: balance the numbers of exchange students in rez in each semester. Whatever is done, don’t let rooms sit empty when hundreds desperately want them.