The original ad spread is from a campaign comprising a larger number of advertisements that aim to help UBC stand out “in the already crowded landscape of education advertising,” (Caprara 2017), in order to attract prospective students, whose tuition fees generate revenue for the school This kind of advertising is just one aspect of the corporatization of universities, in which the school becomes a corporation itself, with a brand to endorse and a reputation to maintain. Along with tuition, university funding is highly made up of donors, many of which consist of large corporations, who prioritize pouring money into science and business programs that perpetuate capitalism and produce students that will become productive members of the economy. As a result, disciplines in the arts and fine arts are often underfunded (Giroux 2002). For instance, the imagine on the right highlights UBC as an institution for entrepreneurs, stating how “the next next thing patented” is “from here.”
Another large consequence of corporatization includes the way academic institutions handle cases of sexual assault on campus. In order to protect and maintain their brand, reputation, and donors, too many cases are minimized or dismissed by the administration all together, and they discourage survivors to speak publically. Capitalism and the corporatization of universities intersects deeply with cisheteropatriarchy, which in many cases results in the denial of rape culture on campuses, a high prevalence of sexual assault, and little or no consequences for perpetrators of sexual violence (Boris and Currans 2017).
In particular, I want to focus on how the UBC Alma Mater Society threatened to defund the Sexual Assault Support Centre on campus, an intersectional anti-oppressive and survivor-centric space for survivors of any gender that operates independently of UBC to provide unbiased help. The AMS proposed that the handling of sexual assault support services be transferred to the new Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office (SVPRO), an organization run by UBC after the provincially mandatory stand-alone sexual assault policy, meaning that the “SVPRO is, by definition, limited by working within a system that is designed to protect the reputation and liability of UBC” in a way that may pressure survivors into not making public statements (Ubyssey).
In my jammed ad, I altered the corporate nature of the text that positioned UBC as a place of “no limits” in order to recruit students, into a campaign that exposes the university as prioritizing tuition dollars and donors, rather than students and sexual assault survivors. In the image on the left, I highlighted the failure of the AMS to provide adequate unbiased care, support, and resources for survivors while indicating the hypocrisy of such a statement that “human rights are defended” at UBC if survivors are excluded. In a similar fashion, I edited the image on the right to bring light to the high sexaul assault rates on campus, most of which go unreported to both campus authorities and police for a multitude of reasons, including a loss of faith in the university system to act. I kept the “from here” at the end of each statement because, combined with the upfront text one would not expect to read on an advertisement for a university, it holds UBC responsible and accountable in a way that is completely different than the original ads purpose of profit. Although it is crucial to recognize that the physical space of UBC and the land that it occupies directly impacts Indigenous rights, I edited UBC’s slogan from “a place of mind” to “an oppressive state of mind” in order to acknowledge the fact that this issue that intersects with the corporatization of universities and sexual assault is not contained within UBC, but is also a system of ideologies and structures such as cisheteropatriarchy and capitalism that occupy, but also transcend, space.
At the time that I am writing this, the AMS decided to reverse their decision to defund the SASC, and it is because of the efforts of resistance, especially on the behalf survivors and marginalized groups, that pressured the institution to retract their proposal. However, it is the deconstruction of corporatization, capitalist ventures and other oppressive systems of power within UBC that will allow for the most support and advocacy possible for survivors of sexual assault on campuses.
Eileen Boris, and Elizabeth Currans. “Feminist Currents: Decolonial Responses to the Neoliberalization of the University.” Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, vol. 38, no. 2, 2017, pp. 210–219, https://www-jstor-org.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/stable/10.5250/fronjwomestud.38.2.0210.
Giroux, Henry. “Neoliberalism, Corporate Culture, and the Promise of Higher Education: The University as a Democratic Public Sphere.” Harvard Educational Review, vol. 72, no. 4, 2002, pp. 425-464, https://doi-org.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/10.17763/haer.72.4.0515nr62324n71p1.
The Collective in Solidarity with the SASC Team. “16 years of support at the SASC coming to an unjust end.” The Ubyssey, 22 June 2018, https://www.ubyssey.ca/opinion/leaving-gaps-in-support/?ref=frontpage.