Last Words: Trudeau, tuition and too-uninterested student politicians

Student apathy? It’s not Trudeau

Today, students filled the SUB ballroom to see Justin Trudeau. Despite our campus usually being quite apathetic, hundreds of people actually showed up. While these Q and A sessions can often lack opportunities for audience questions, Trudeau didn’t hog the microphone. The several questions he took ranged from his opinion on the BDS movement (he was against it) to repeated questions about Bill C-51 (which he handled gracefully).

Party politics aside, it was great to see some actual political engagement on campus. Hundreds of students came to a standing-room only session to talk about politics. We’ve seen far too much political apathy on campus as of late, and it was refreshing to see an engaging politician speaking to engaged students. With AMS elections coming up, it’s a reminder of what can happen when students think both politics and politicians are relevant to them.

The AMS is making a new anti-increase sling

The AMS is formulating a new policy on tuition increases, and their stance hasn't really changed from previous years -- they still oppose fee increases. What they are doing is trying to expand the abilities of student executives to advocate and lobby for the lower fees that students want. Though, as always, we have our doubts about AMS lobbying having much (or any) effect on the university's decisions, it's admirable that they're putting in a solid effort.

The way the wind is blowing seems to suggest that tuition will continue to go up for at least the next several years. The current government doesn't seem inclined to provide more funding to post-secondary institutions, and there are only so many places that cuts can be made on the budget side of things. Lobbying the university and government, though not necessarily effective in regard to outcomes, is critical in the sense that it shows that there is opposition to the status quo. If no one opposes, all it does is give those making the decisions the opportunity to say that there was no opposition.

The AMS represents a lot of students, and has some fairly significant resources at its disposal -- but compared to the size of the university and government, our student society is little more than an irritating flea. The AMS' opposition to fee increases is as good of a David and Goliath story as any. Only time will tell if this David and Goliath story stays true to its original ending.

AMS election ennui

It’s that time of year again.

The AMS elections are getting underway and our staff are buzzing with excitement -- or sweating profusely -- as we keep up with everything going on in our student society. One of the most entertaining things about the elections is watching candidates face off every chance they get, whether it’s out-doing each other’s campaign posters/websites/Facebook pages or, more excitingly, at debates.

Unfortunately, debates usually aren’t as thrilling as we’d hope. Most candidates just take them as an opportunity to sit in front of a (small, generally indifferent) crowd and regurgitate their platforms. Worse yet, some even panic when asked questions they weren’t prepared for and end up either spewing nonsense or recycling their opponents’ answers, slightly reworded.

We understand that being drilled with questions while sitting in front of a dozen or more other people can be horribly nerve-racking. In fact, this is exactly the kind of interview our section editors do during our own elections. So, we know exactly how the candidates must feel having to sit up there, but we don’t understand why some just don’t make the effort to be better prepared.

The UBC campus can be apathetic -- it’s true -- but AMS executives shouldn’t be.