Last Words: Pay gaps and pretty clean kitchens

UBC food not spotless, but way ahead of the competition

Earlier this week, we published an article about the food safety reports at some of UBC’s restaurants and cafes. While most of the results were entirely unremarkable (good for the most part, with some small infractions like an ice scooper placed the wrong way), we also found some not-so-appetizing results: rat droppings found in some areas of the Vanier cafeteria and Mercante Pizza. Yuck.

While no one ever wants to hear the words ‘rat shit’ and ‘your parmesan and arugula pizza’ together, it’s also important not to make this into something bigger than it is. Pests are a very common problem in restaurants and the droppings were found in a faraway corner of the kitchen near the garbage.

As long as the problem is addressed quickly and effectively (it has been for Mercante while Vanier is yet to have a re-inspection), we aren’t going to be too hard on UBC just yet because it could be much, much worse. That said, we will also be keeping a keen eye out for these reports to make sure that these infractions do not repeat themselves in the future.

And now for something truly scary: pests and food just seem to go together like Mario and Luigi. If you read through the Vancouver Coastal Health food safety reports, you’ll find that at least one of your favourite restaurants has been shut down for a couple of days in the last year due to some bugs, rodents or other creepy crawlies finding their way near the kitchen. Almost makes you want to reconsider eating out so often, doesn’t it?

So really, though any violation is far from a good thing, UBC is doing well when compared to off-campus and even on-campus (but non-UBC run) restaurants. What’s important is that they’re doing what they can to prevent it from happening again, and that when it does happen they resolve the situation as quickly as possible.

Gender pay gap is real in the highest echelons of UBC

Last week we launched a searchable database showing the salary of every UBC employee who earned over $75,000 last year. While it can be used as a fun tool to find out how much your professors get paid, it also helps visualize a large issue at UBC -- male-female income disparity.

The gender gap is by no means a new issue, but it is one that can sometimes be difficult to visualize -- especially at UBC. Even though it may seem like there is an even amount of male and female employees on campus, the true extent of the issue lies in other numbers.

Preliminary analysis of last year’s salary data shows that only three of the top 40 highest paid UBC employees are women. Focusing specifically on academic positions, women are paid on average $19,560 less than men across all faculties, and in Sauder, the average female salary is behind by nearly $64,000. It also appears that UBC-O, where the average male-female salary difference across faculties is $11,155, has a considerably smaller gender gap than the Vancouver campus.

Numbers like these don’t always point directly to gender inequality, but they definitely raise concerns. UBC states that it is an institution that strives for employment equity and even has an office dedicated to upholding this promise.

Although we haven’t finished crunching all the numbers (stay tuned for a more in-depth analysis), after looking at last year’s salary list, we are forced to ask the question: can we do better? And if this pay gap is as bad as it appears to be, it broaches the question of why UBC -- which purports gender equality in its employment and payment structures (as is also mandated by law) -- has not remedied the situation. Hosting lectures and seminars on addressing the pay gap is one thing, but when you have the opportunity to do something about it, it’s irresponsible not to.