CUPE 2278 continues to work for a safer campus

A few weeks ago, in light of the spate of sexual assaults on campus, we asked our members to send us information about places and practices on campus that caused students and workers to feel unsafe. The response was overwhelming and we’re happy to report that many of the safety issues were resolved shortly after we managed to contact the people responsible. Campus safety is the product of a complex network of building and facilities managers, UBC administrative departments like UBC Housing, security agencies and of course, the Health & Safety Committee; so it can be difficult to track down exactly the right person. But CUPE 2278, the local for UBC teaching assistants, markers, and tutors, along with our sister CUPE locals on campus, are here to help. We’re proud to announce the following positive changes to campus safety that occurred shortly or immediately after we intervened.

A number of broken or missing bulbs in public lighting have been replaced or fixed. Some of the broken lighting our members alerted us to was located close to where some reported sexual assaults occurred. One member claimed to be trying to get her building manager to address broken lighting in Acadia Park for two months without any success. Within a week of us contacting UBC Housing and the building managers, the lights, located near residences and the playground, were fixed. We would like to thank the facilities managers who fielded our calls, in particular the manager of the Auditorium Annex Chris Skipper, who took time out from his vacation to personally inspect one of our queries.

A number of our members expressed concern over the temporary pathway near the UBC Hospital construction site. One of our executives visited the site and found that not only was the lighting poor, but that the pathway was extremely isolated and difficult to navigate safely while travelling alone. Due to the number of organizations involved in the construction, it was difficult to identify exactly who could remedy this urgent problem. Fortunately, after the hard work of our Vice-President Ed Kroc to notify the appropriate facility manager, a security guard now patrols the pathway from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. each evening.

Again, CUPE 2278 would like to thank everyone involved in these positive changes, particularly those who listened to UBC community concerns. And we would like to encourage our members to come to us with safety and security concerns so that these improvements continue.

Statement on campus sexual assaults and Sauder referendum

As executive members of UBC’s Teaching Assistants union, CUPE Local 2278, we feel compelled to speak up about the alarming increase in sexual assaults on campus and the community conversations surrounding the fallout from the Sauder rape chant incident. As part of our executive mandate to pursue equality on campus, it is our responsibility to confront any environment that renders women vulnerable to sexual assault or allows attitudes diminishing the gravity of such threats to flourish.

We believe that the failure to address any perceived danger to an individual, a recognized group or select members of our campus community is a collective failure—not an individual one. Therefore, we believe that the recent string of sexual assaults on campus clearly illustrate that as a community, we have to some extent failed to maintain a safe and secure space for our students, staff and faculty—particularly women and others vulnerable to sexual assault—to live, work and study.

So, we applaud the efforts on the part of the Commerce Undergraduate Society (CUS) executive to pledge $250,000 toward sexual assault awareness training and counselling for its student body. Like them, we were extremely disappointed to learn that Sauder undergraduates emphatically voted down the initiative. Many reasons were shared publicly for this defeat—some bureaucratic, some ideological—but we hope that this failure to make good on the lessons learned from the rape chant incident is a lesson to all stakeholders at Sauder and elsewhere on campus, including the Dean’s office, that rape culture is not a problem for which you can offload responsibility onto student organizations, but a crisis of community in which we all are implicated and in which we all bear responsibility to repair.

We are heartened, then, by the Dean of Sauder School of Business’s announcement that the school will move forward with the Counselling position even if it needs to bear the full cost of the program irrespective of the referendum’s disappointing outcome. But we hope it’s clear that the incongruity between the Dean’s office’s position and that of his undergrads indicates that UBC students, staff, faculty and administration failed to take full responsibility for propagating a culture which implicitly (and at times explicitly) condones or diminishes rape. It is astonishing to us that at the same time UBC makes headlines nationwide for a sexual predator on campus, 70 per cent of participants in the Sauder referendum vote down measures that would make their school safer for women—and fail to see the connection between these two incidents.

We were further dismayed that The Ubyssey, despite their excellent work in making these stories public with the utmost attention to ethical reporting, published an editorial that appears to blame campus feminists for the failure of their brave actions to effect observable change. We stand in solidarity with feminists on campus who try, against popular opinion, to make UBC a safer and more equitable university. We are baffled by arguments rooted in privilege which take issue with the way women choose to make their world better; as if Sauder would have welcomed sexual assault counselling had UBC feminists simply been nicer.

We make this statement not to point fingers, but to request all UBC stakeholders take seriously the prevalence of sexual assault and rape culture on our campus at every level. We asked our members to report on any environmental issues which made them feel unsafe—unlocked doors, broken or insufficient lighting, etc.—and the response has already been overwhelming. Our colleagues at CUPE 116 and AMS Security have been working extremely hard to keep students safe in the wake of these attacks, but more needs to be done.

We ask that all members of the UBC Community, acknowledge that campus safety, primarily that of women and others vulnerable to sexual assault, is a priority—and one that cannot be secured through closed circuit television, but from registering that a campus free of sexual violence begins with us.

 

In solidarity,

Executive of The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Local 2278

ANNUAL GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING!

It’s time for our ANNUAL GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING!
Come join your union executive in Leonard S. Klinck 201 NEXT WEDNESDAY October 16th from 5-6pm. We’ll be talking about our upcoming election for the union executive, going over the highlights of the current collective agreement and taking your questions about CUPE 2278! Come meet other TAs, chat with your exec and hear about what we have planned for 2013/2014!

http://www.maps.ubc.ca/PROD/index_detail.php?show=y,n,n,n,n,y&bldg2Search=n&locat1=308&locat2=#showMapCampus

CUPE 2278 encourages all members to participate in Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Today, Wednesday September 18, Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) will take place on unceded Coast Salish territories at the Pacific National Exhibition to gather testimony from survivors of Canada’s Residential School System. The University of British Columbia has suspended classes for the the occasion and will host its own events at the Belkin Art Gallery, the First Nations Longhouse, and the Museum of Anthropology. The Executive of CUPE 2278 would like to encourage all members to take part in the day’s activities, either at the PNE or at smaller events held on campus.

The Indian Residential School system—active from 1875 to as recenty as 1996—constituted a major part of Canada’s colonialist project. Canadian officials forcibly removed Aboriginal children from their families and moved them to boarding schools in remote locations. In most cases, the schools forbade use of traditional languages and cultural expressions. Sexual, physical and cultural abuse was rampant—the full extent of the trauma suffered by Canada’s first peoples has not yet come to light. The residential schools were infamously studied by South Africa’s Afrikaner National Party and used as a model for apartheid.

The consequences of the schools have been horrific and massive in scope. Entire generations of Aboriginal children, stolen from their parents from as young as five, were robbed of their cultural patrimony and traditional knowledges by the Canadian government. The legacies of abuse persist in communities across Turtle Island: the missing and murdered women of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and the Highway of Tears are overwhelmingly Aboriginal, the suicide and incarceration rates in Aboriginal communities are disproportionately high, and indigenous land claims to traditional territories, both treaty and non-treaty, continue to languish in Federal courts.

The TRC hopes to bear witness to the full implications of the schools, decide how best to educate Canadian citizens of this shameful history, and work towards reconciliation between Aboriginal peoples and wider Canadian society.

As educators, our members, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal alike, bear special responsibility to hear these stories and silenced survivor voices. We all have Aboriginal students in our classes and UBC’s historical place on Musqueam traditional territories means that the reverberations of Canada’s colonial past and present should inform our teaching whenever possible. It is our hope that participation in TRC events will add sensitivity, understanding and generosity to our work.

Please join your union executive at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission today.

CUPE 2278 will be promoting a number of pedagogy and instructional skills workshops over the coming year to assist our members in anti-oppression and inclusive pedagogies. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter for updates.

For more information, see:

Statement on the Y-O-U-N-G chant at UBC

The Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 2278 represents over 3000 graduate and undergraduate students at UBC who work as teaching assistants, markers, and tutors. We advocate for the working conditions and equity of our members. As such, we are deeply troubled by emerging reports of chants encouraging rape on our campus. We write to urge the University to acknowledge the gravity of what has occurred, and to take seriously its responsibility to female students and workers.

On September 6 – hot on the heels of similar reports from Saint Mary’s University – UBC’s campus paper, The Ubyssey, exposed the presence of chants encouraging both rape and preying on underage girls at undergraduate orientation events. Reports indicate that these chants were well known as having been established for a number of years beforehand, and have until now been allowed to continue without consequence for those involved.

If the reports from The Ubyssey,  Sauder students’ social media posts, the CBC and CTV news are to be believed, the response from Frosh week organizers and the Commerce Undergraduate Soceity (CUS) to past complaints about this chant has been to ensure that it ‘stayed in private’. If this is the case, it is wholly inadequate. Two-fifths of Canadian women have experienced sexual assault; four out of five female undergraduate students report having experienced violence in a dating relationship. There is wide-ranging evidence on the difficulty women face in coming forward about assault; trivializing sexual assault adds to the burden placed on women (and men) who have survived it. There is no context – ‘private’ or otherwise– where rape should be condoned. Nor is there any context in which encouraging rape is either ‘harmless’ or ‘fun’.

In light of this, pending the ongoing investigation already underway, we strongly urge the following:

  • Firstly, the University must issue a full apology for allowing a chant such as this to be perpetuated year after year.
  • Secondly, the University must follow the example of SMU in dealing with the latest incident: at the least, those responsible — either directly or through indifference — should face serious disciplinary consequences. Future orientation coordinators must be provided with anti-oppression training, orientations must fall under more substantial departmental oversight and proper avenues for reporting misconduct must be established.

We must see this incident as an opportunity to reform our University’s broader institutional culture. After graduation, our University’s students move into positions of authority in institutions across Canada and worldwide; UBC has a global responsibility to ensure that misogyny is not carried with them.

-This statement was drafted by Catriona Gold on behalf of the Executive of CUPE local 2278

Logging your hours

We encourage members to keep tabs on their hours to make sure they aren’t working more than they are paid for. For an easy to use excel document, check out our documents section or click here: http://cupe2278.ca/blog/?page_id=820

CUPE 2278 concerned about skyrocketing child care fees

In April, UBC Student Housing and Hospitality Services (SHHS) announced that child care fees would be increased by five per cent — after two back-to-back increases of ten percent in each of the previous two years. CUPE 2278 finds this fee increase unacceptable in the context of rising tuition and inflation in Canada’s most expensive city. Last month, President Trish Everett sent a letter of concern requesting a renewed commitment to affordable child care on campus to UBC President Stephen Toope; as well as to VP Finance, Resources and Operations, Pierre Ouellet; and Andrew Parr, SHHS Managing Director. Here is that letter in full:

June 1, 2013

Dr. Stephen Toope, President
The University of British Columbia
6328 Memorial Road
Vancouver, BC Canada V6T 1Z2

cc: Pierre Ouellet (VP FRO), Andrew Parr (Managing Director SHHS), GSS, AMS, CUPE Local 116, CUPE Local 2950, TSSU, CUPE Local 4163 (Victoria) and Mark Hancock (CUPE BC President)

Dear Dr. Toope,

The Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 2278 represents over 3000 graduate and undergraduate students at UBC who work as teaching assistants, markers, and tutors. We are writing to express our increasing alarm at the escalating cost of registered child care on the university campus.

In April it was announced that the cost of on-campus child care would increase by 5 per cent. This is in addition to an increase totalling 20 per cent in the last two years alone. A student with an infant in care paid $995 per month in June of 2011; in 2013 a student will pay $1245 per month. This is of course in the context of escalating inflation and UBC’s 2 per cent increase in tuition each year over the same period.

As representatives of students with families hoping to pursue a UBC degree, we concur with the university’s belief that accessible child care is essential to providing a holistic educational environment capable of attracting the best and brightest international candidates. Student parents unable to secure quality, affordable care for their children will experience significant stress and financial hardship which will certainly harm their academic performance, and put their ability to complete their program at risk.

Students in need of care for their children can still expect to wait for an average of two years for a spot to become available. This waiting list crisis has been a perennial concern of the GSS, the AMS, and the Faculty Association as well as with our local; yet this increase will do nothing to address it. Furthermore, despite the sizeable gap in wages and funding, students only pay about $100 less than faculty in childcare fees per month.

We find that this severe increase in fees will disproportionately affect students with families in a negative way. Costs are already far out of reach for students with more than one child in need of care. Child care fees for a forward-looking, world leader like UBC should be decreasing, not quickly accelerating in the opposite direction.

We request that the University reverse the latest increase and make affordable child care a priority in order to provide a service befitting its reputation as a world-class institution.

Sincerely,

Trish Everett
President, CUPE Local 2278

END OF YEAR PUB NIGHT!

THIS Thursday, April 25 at 7pm @Wolf and Hound!
To celebrate another successful year of teaching and marking, your union would like to offer you each a free drink at the Wolf and Hound this Thursday.  Located at 3617 West Broadway (at Alma).  Bring your marking buddy and/or come relax and share a beer with your exec members.
See you there!

You can do better

The Liberals just aren’t into you.

Learn more from CUPE BC about your failed relationship with Christy Clark and the Liberal Party of BC at www.youcandobetter.ca!

If you’re a Canadian citizen and have lived in BC for more than six months you are eligible to vote in the upcoming provincial election. Learn how to register here.

New office!

Exciting news! We’ve moved our office! We can now be found in McGavin amid the engineering and health sciences buildings! We’ll give you more updates as the office gets set up and we get a phone number etc., but in the mean time, email is the best way to be in touch.