The Broken Bench

There’s a bench in Place Vanier Common’s Block. It’s broken. It’s been broken for a while. I once forgot and sat on it anyway. I felt very stupid.

A few days ago I was studying in the bench next to the broken bench and two staff members walked up to it (the broken bench). They discussed how to fix it and then left with a comment that really stayed with me “… because we do have tours that go through here and it doesn’t look very good.”

Well, I feel that the international students at UBC are like that broken bench. We can make the university look very good. But there’s some things that need to be fixed.

I really have no problem with UBC being advertised as a university with a thriving international community, as long as it’s true. As of now, however, I feel that there is no community. International students in UBC don’t have a voice, a shared identity. And until we get one, we’ll be that broken bench, full of potential but not really working.

For example, today I went to a consultation on the proposed 4% increase in international tuition. For those of you who don’t know how much that is, it’s about $800 a year. During this poorly attended meeting we were explained by members of the administration things such as how this increase works, who sets the tuition and how the funds will be allocated. We were also told that today starts a consultation about this fee increase with the students, which will go on until the 23rd of March. Part of this consultation will include a first-time-ever survey about it for international students.

My conclusion:

The increase is inevitable. Still, there is one area in which we can affect the outcome. FILL OUT THE SURVEY. Especially, FILL OUT THE LAST QUESTION OF THE SURVEY. This question asks you to say where you would like to see more of your fees allocated (things such as smaller classes, student services, scholarships, etc). After filling out the survey, TELL YOUR FRIENDS TO FILL IT OUT TOO. This is the first time that the university is asking international students what they think about their fees, we really really really have to show them that we care. The administration needs to realize that we are a strong voice, let’s start with this survey.

About Valentina

I'm from a small and beautiful town next to a big and amazing lake in Guatemala.
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3 Responses to The Broken Bench

  1. Carman says:

    Great post Valentina! I am sorry to hear that you don’t feel a strong international community presence on campus – have you tried linking in with groups at the International House?

    In other news, we have actually added a new member (an international student) to the LEAP committee specifically for the purpose of seeing how LEAP and our services can cater to international students’ academic/study needs which I think is a great step in the right direction!

  2. Sonja says:

    Valentina, you bring up some excellent points and I really like your broken chair analogy. However, I personally am quite happy with not belonging to an international student “shared identity” – of course there is no shared identity when we all come from different places! Moreover, we are all individuals and it would be awful if the term “international student” could be used as a label to indicate shared attributes of all of us. That comes dangerously close close to the segregation of students as “Canadian” and “other”, and I see no real benefit it could confer to anyone.

    I think where it does make sense to stress the “international” box that some of us check on our profiles, is in cases where something does uniquely affect international students, and all of us equally (e.g. higher tuition). In all other cases, I’d like to steer away from stereotypes based on country of origin as much as possible.

    Anyhow, those are just my thoughts. More posts please!! :)


  3. Valentina says:

    Hey Sonja!

    I completely agree with the importance of keeping our individuality, which is what makes this university experience great. It would be incredibly boring if we were all the same!!
    What I mean by shared identity is the understanding that we all face some issues that canadians don’t (like you said, higher tuition), and that together we can positively influence the system.
    It’s a very hard line to manage, but I think that engaging in conversation about it is exactly what will eventually help us get the best out of out many differences!! :)

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