Board of Governors Meeting; taken from the September 22 Live Stream

The UBC Board of Governors is responsible for the management, administration and control of the property, revenue, business and affairs of UBC. The Board of Governors is comprised of 21 members including the Chancellor, the President, members appointed by the Lieutenant Governor, and elected faculty members, employees, and students from both UBC campuses.

The UBC Board of Governors holds five regular meetings between September and June each year. The Phoenix is committed to keeping the UBCO student body informed which is why we are dedicated to attending and reporting on the Board of Governors meetings throughout the 2020/2021 school year.

In the September 22 Board of Governors meeting, Ali Poostizadeh and Taylor Dotto, President and Vice-President External of the  UBC Okanagan’s Student Union respectively, held a presentation to advocate for the UBCO campus based on three main areas of concern: campus equality, sustainability, and affordability.

The areas of concern that the SUO presented to the Board were collected from a student experience survey that they distributed to UBCO students earlier in 2020. The survey findings show that UBCO students feel there are not enough adequate study spaces or recreational spaces on campus.

Poostizzadeh raised concern to the Board of Governors about the fact that the growth of our campus population has not been matched with the growth of study spaces. The SUO representatives requested that the Board of Governors review their long-term capital plan and the 2040 plan for UBC Okanagan, and match it to the Vancouver campus long-term plan to ensure that UBC Okanagan’s campus’ growth is adequate and fair.

Next, Dotto voiced that UBC Okanagan students are extremely passionate about fighting the climate crisis. To highlight this point, she explained that The UBC Climate Emergency Task Force distributed surveys this past summer to hear feedback from students regarding the current climate emergency, and almost the same amount of UBC Okanagan students completed the survey as UBC Vancouver students despite the Vancouver campus having six times the student population.

UBC Okanagan also experiences the climate emergency more severely. There have been numerous wildfires in the Okanagan area in recent years, namely 2017, 2018, and 2020. The SUO is requesting funding to support the creation of a parallel climate hub on the UBC Okanagan campus to amplify students’ demonstrated enthusiasm. Dotto also asked UBC to fulfill the commitment made in its Whole Systems Infrastructure Plan to plant more trees on campus and invest in the growth of green spaces in the Okanagan area.

Finally, through the student experience survey, the SUO found that many UBC Okanagan students are struggling with tuition increases. 31% of those who took the survey stated that they will be over $20,000 in debt by the time they graduate. Poostizadeh noted to the Board that the COVID-19 pandemic has likely only worsened student financial situations, especially for international students. Poostizadeh implored the Board to take an effective approach to affordability by being empathetic towards student financial situations during the pandemic and pairing tuition increases with notable improvements in campus life and academics.

Poostizadeh finished on a strong note, expressing that the SUO is committed to working closely with the Board to build a better experience for the UBC Okanagan community. To view the live stream or learn more about the Board of Governors click here.