Pit Night!

Posted by: | January 29, 2009 | 19 Comments

There was a somewhat peculiar piece of business at tonight’s AMS council meeting. Should AMS councilors be allowed to sneak into Pit Night via a back entrance after council meetings?

After receiving a number of complaints (from myself included; the Ubyssey also wrote an editorial), the AMS’s Business Operations Committee recently decided to disallow entrance to the Pit via the back door. By eliminating the greasing of palms at the back door, I hope that there will be no more motivation to keep the line at the front door unnecessarily long when the Pit is nowhere near capacity. It will also mean that money that used to go to bouncers for bribes can now be used for more beer! Good on the AMS for being responsive on this issue.

Whoooo Beer

Thankfully, council found a way to fuck with it. A frivolously-worded motion was passed in 2005 outlining that at every third AMS council meeting, councilors could sign up to get preferential entrance to the Pit after the meeting. (They pass a Pit List around the room for people to sign up, then sneak them in a back entrance after the meeting is over.) At some point in time, this started occurring at every second meeting, and then at practically every meeting. Chris Diplock presented a motion tonight to rescind the not-entirely-followed 2005 motion. His motivation was quite clear: everyone should have to wait in line at the front door to get in, councilors included and that it sends the wrong message to reserve this privilege for themselves.

Surprisingly, Alex Monegro defended the practice. He argued that councilors, unlike paid staff, don’t get any renumeration for their many hours given to council. Perks, even very small ones like this, are deserved and should be kept intact. Yikes, I sure hope this is not indicative of his leadership potential.

An engineering rep also argued that being at council meetings meant missing social activities and that preferential entrance to the Pit eased that problem. The rest of the debate was either about indifference to having the Pit List/in support of equitable access.

Side note: If you are not an AMS hack (yet you read this blog, a peculiar combination), you might be amazed that something idiotic like this gets so much debate. Alas, the whole meeting went for more than 6 hours.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to speak before the question was called. The whole thing seemed like a pretty clear case of whether council wanted to put their own interests in front of those of ordinary students who just want a night out at the bar.

Major fail. In the end, council inexplicably decided to keep the Pit List intact, for them alone. I know this isn’t the first, nor the last, nor the most blatant display of self-interest, but I’m pointing it out anyways. Despite the result, I hope to never see the Pit List passed around again. I’ll be watching.


19 Comments so far

  1. maayan kreitzman on January 29, 2009 4:40 pm

    For serious Maria? I always thought the pit list was a fairly harmless way to give councilors a pat on the back for the important work they do, and significant time they give. Not like it’s a tragedy if they don’t get any perks (councilors are there for more important reasons, and many ran tough campaigns to get there) but I don’t see a small perk like this one being on a troublesome scale. It’s like saying that a food co-op’s members voting to let people working a shift eat a free muffin is “self-serving”. Well, yeah, it is I guess, but it’s also reasonable and completely fine.

  2. Peter on January 29, 2009 4:57 pm

    I think you have to seriously differentiate between the “greasing of palms at the back door” with the AMS Council’s use of the back door. To mix the two up into a single issue is silly and self-serving.

    I’ve always thought of it as an excellent incentive and reward for those councillors who’ve had the sheer sticktoitivness to sit through a 6 hour meeting. Gasp! You’ve just spent 6 hours working for students! How dare you hope that you’ll get the chance to skip waiting another 2 hours in line to get a beer and see some friends! Monster!

    Besides, by being in council you forgo the chance to wait in line (or get there before the line up). It seems grossly unfair to punish Council for going to council.

    Think of it as the free coffee that Starbucks employees get. It costs the company nothing and endears the employees and makes them happier better people. Any business student would understand that simple concept and would, like Alex did, vote to support it.

    Further, it helps build community amongst the Council and the students. What better way to go relax with your co-workers and at the same time network with your constituents?

    Personally, I would strongly agree with the keeping of the Pit List. (Perhaps there’s an argument to be made as to reforming and formalizing it a bit more, but that’s another story). Also I don’t live in Canada or go to UBC anymore, so no self-interest to speak of.

    Lastly, the number of people that take advantage of this ‘elitist self-gratifying systemic evilness’ is very limited. The most I ever saw is about 10 people. If you think that’ll make a substantial impact on the waiting line for ‘average Joe/Jane’, I beg to differ.

  3. Maria_Jogova on January 29, 2009 6:00 pm

    I didn’t write this ;)

  4. Gossip Guy on January 29, 2009 6:36 pm

    Seriously? The Pit List should definitely be kept.

    Heck… I’d even say councilors deserve a free beer when they get there! If they’re willing to sit out the entire meeting, they deserve a little something afterwards.

  5. Bowinn on January 29, 2009 8:39 pm

    I am a former Councilor who, because of my total lameness, have never put my name on the Pit List. Wait, no, I lie. I went once.

    I didn’t take advantage of the Pit List, but not because I was against it. Being a Councilor can be tiring, tedious, and can make you feel horribly under appreciated. This is one perk that I think is completely valid to maintain. After all, if these people weren’t in the Council Meeting, they might have been able to line up and make it into the Pit much earlier! They missed their chance to line up to get in by being in the meeting. Give them a break!

    I would like to point out that I think it’s impressive (for better or for worse) that the Council was able to vote in favour of a perk. I remember an EUS meeting where every Council, perhaps due to their immense humility and idealisms, refused to vote in favor of a Xmas party for themselves.

    Did that last paragraph make sense?

  6. Bowinn on January 29, 2009 8:40 pm

    Oh…I just repeated what Peter said. My bad.

  7. Claudia on January 29, 2009 10:38 pm

    If we follow this argument, UBC athletes should also be allowed in the back of the Pit. Many of us practice late Wednesday nights, time we dedicate to the success of UBC Athletics without any sort of compensation. (Don’t be fooled- any sort of scholarship typically will cover the cost of footwear for the season)
    Then, what about students with Wednesday night late class? They aren’t getting any compensation for being stuck in class on Wednesday night, and UBC should create an academic environment that encourages students to go to class. Pit lists should be available for these students.
    Your club meets Wednesday nights? Perfect! Pit list! Just contact your friendly AMS, putting the needs of UBC students first.

  8. Peter on January 29, 2009 11:53 pm

    You’re joking, right Claudia?

    1. Going to class has nothing to do with anything, so I’m going to disregard that point.

    2. Have you never heard of Bob Philip’s massive ‘war chest’ that the rest of campus has been funding for near-on a decade for the sole benefit of UBC’s athletes? No?! I point you to http://www.ubyssey.ca/?p=4543

    Also: “The UBC Athletic Department has the largest endowment for athletic awards of any university in Canada. Awards range from general department endowments that are available to all student-athletes, to sport-specific endowments.” (http://www.gothunderbirds.ca/recruiting.asp) AMS Councillors get nothing. Not a cent. That’s infinitely less than the smallest scholarship and athlete might get.

    3. Clubs have nothing to do with anything either. People participating in clubs (and volunteering for them) enjoy the individual rewards from each club. This includes money and resources from the AMS.

    But you’re right. Skipping a line to have the distinct privilege to pay for your beer after sitting in a chair for six hours running the very building and organization that hosts this bar is a total travesty. How dare they indeed?

    Oh, did you also know that they serve food at AMS Council meetings? That’s free! We should stop that. In fact, we should get rid of the Council chamber. We should make council meet outside in the rain. Like the poor students that have to get to class and the poor athletes that have to train in Vancouver. Damn elitist bastards. They should be hungry and drenched, like everyone else.

  9. Bowinn on January 29, 2009 11:55 pm

    The Pit is arguably there directly because of the efforts of those who spend the time in Council and other committees and such. Varsity athletes do not directly contribute to the Pit’s existence. Students benefit from the Pit because of the work put into it by those such as the Councilors.

    Further, Varsity athletes get free gym memberships at the Coop and do receive scholarships, however small they may be. That can be considered their version of “skipping the Pit line”.

    Also, take into account the amount of direct funding they get through UBC Athletics, partially funded by students through their Athletics and Recreation Fees.

    Now, I’m wondering about the travel expenses as well. Who pays for those? UBC Ultimate is a college-level sports team that does not achieve Varsity status at UBC. Their members pay for all their own uniforms, own travel expenses, own tournament fees, own gear, and even the rent for the UBC fields they practice on. They too dedicate hours of of their own time for truly no compensation (in fact, at a loss). This thus demonstrates the “compensation” varsity athletes receive de facto, though it may not be cash.

    In terms of students stuck in class — Attending classes benefits you and you alone. It is important, absolutely, but hardly an altruistic dedication. It can be argued that those who volunteer with the AMS Council dedicate a significant portion of their lives to the betterment of others and not themselves. In fact, the infuriating nature of the work will likely take most of them to an early grave.

    To clarify, this isn’t meant to be a jab against UBC athletes, but a defense for those Councilors who do wish to use their “pit line” perk.

  10. Diddly on January 30, 2009 12:22 am

    Councilors are volunteers, as far as I’m aware. Executives too, in the sense that they voluntarily ran in the elections. Not one of them was ever held at gunpoint at forced to run. Maybe you had visions of change, maybe you wanted to pad a resume, I don’t know and I don’t particularly care.

    What I do care about is people voluntarily taking on a job, and then saying, “We deserve such and such, because this job is so time-consuming / often boring / a JOB!” It’s a crap job, I get it. Your meetings are long, okay.

    If it sucks so much that you think you deserve to skip the line, ahead of others who are lining up, then maybe you ought to not do it.

  11. Bowinn on January 30, 2009 12:45 am

    Wow. Thank goodness not all people are as selfish as you.

    They may complain that it’s a crap job and they may want to benefit from the very services they work to provide…but the fact of the matter is that, had the perk been taken away from them, they would still be working their butts off to protect *your* right to that service. With or without their sparse perks, they would still do what they were elected to do, which they volunteered to do because they believed they could do it best, so that you, their students, would be able to benefit from their efforts.

    They don’t do it for the perks (most of them, I would hope), but they are nice. This is one that, as Maayan says, is fairly harmless. We’re not talking about a $200 000 a year compensation, here.

    So then, with or without the perks, let them complain. For the work they do, they deserve that much.

  12. Peter on January 30, 2009 1:05 am

    Diddly: your argument is insightful in one respect, but you didn’t pick up on it.

    You pointed out the root of what bugs people in this case. Its not that there’s a perk. Its that the AMS Council gave itself a perk. Its like politicians/managers/bosses/etc voting to raise their salaries. They never do tha-… oh oops.

    You see, the problem rests in that the AMS Council does not have a boss/coordinator/team-leader that can give them a perk or a pat on the back for a job well done. They have to do that themselves. Sadly, that has the appearance of looking sneaky and overly self-serving. Consequently, they open themselves up to exactly this sort of attack and accusation.

    C’est la vie.

  13. Diddly on January 30, 2009 1:15 am


    I’m sorry, but I don’t consider myself selfish for objecting to this. If someone voluntarily does something that causes them pain (say, I don’t know, sticking a knife in a wallsocket), knowing full well that it will cause them distress, I’m not going to be brimming with sympathy.

    I don’t object to complaining (at least I don’t think I said that; I did say I objected to using the complaints as an excuse), but forgive me if I don’t see self-inflicted hardship as a good reason to grant oneself a benefit.

  14. Diddly on January 30, 2009 1:19 am

    You know, when I think about it, I would probably be fine with it if the councilors had said, “Look, we run this place, and we’d like to enjoy it with what little time we have after a meeting.”

    If it’s that perspective, that of a club owner using his / her own facility, that’s cool. What I object to is the “We deserve this because we subject ourselves to hardship” attitude.

  15. Bowinn on January 30, 2009 1:32 am

    Fair enough on the wall socket analogy, but it doesn’t fit.

    What if you stuck a knife in a wallsocket to save someone else from doing it? Or if doing it gave everyone electricity?

    And I think many people would agree with you on the “We run this join, let me in!” I guess they don’t want to be that posessive.

    *internal pause…did that last paragraph just make sense?* Anyway, it was meant to agree.

  16. Diddly on January 30, 2009 2:27 am


    I will agree with you on the lacking of the socket analogy, and maybe I can provide an explanation. I see what you mean by the ‘providing electricity’ bit, and perhaps why I didn’t think of that way is because I admittedly suffer from a certain blindness that many students do. For those people not involved with the AMS, you must admit that many people just don’t see the good (or, well, the anything) that the councilors do. Is it an exposure problem? Is it the squeaky wheel problem, where we (those of us who are less aware) see only the protestors and the bonfires and the rage? Maybe. I don’t know. Maybe that’s the subject of another article.

    CAPTCHA: coppickl (cop pickle?)

  17. Yonny on January 30, 2009 6:27 am

    I guess there are a few more things I should have clarified in the post:

    I am not anti-perk. For everyone’s information, council also decided last night to get AMS council zip-up hoodies (of which the AMS is subsidizing 50%). I am totally fine with that and also am fully in favour of serving dinner at meetings. Gossip Guy, I might even be in favour of allowing councilors a free beer at the Pit after meetings (god knows free beer is the only way to make it through a GSS meeting.)

    Peter, you’ve almost got it correct when you said “Its not that there’s a perk. Its that the AMS Council gave itself a perk.” However, I’d take it one step further.

    The BOC was trying to make things more fair for everyone at the Pit. New policy: no one goes in the back door. Council’s response: “OK, but it shouldn’t apply to us.” They kept their own perk in the context of a change designed to make things more fair.

  18. Bowinn on January 30, 2009 6:49 pm

    Thank you for the clarification, I understand thus why you are annoyed!

    And Diddly, yes, I think there is a big exposure problem, but how do you solve that without making Council seem overly self-promoting? :(

  19. Green Machine on January 30, 2009 10:45 pm

    The 2 cents of a current councilor:

    The Pit staff ARE NOT going to be letting us in the back door any more regardless of what motions we pass at council. We might as well have saved face and voted to remove our self-given privilege.

    As for pats on the back and rewarding our selves: I like being a councillor, I like going to AMS meetings more than I like going to the pit. If that wasn’t the case, I wouldn’t have ran.

    Also, only a few people go to the pit, most of us are too exhausted and go home afterwards, or to the gallery.

    I also want to mention that there were quite a few of us who voted to revoke this “privilege”. Please don’t let this alter your view of all councilors.

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