All Posts Tagged With: "uvic"
Lecture on Indigenous lands leads to allegations of inciting violence, but case has been dropped
A University of Victoria professor was investigated by the FBI after she was accused of making “terroristic threats” at a November speech in Minnesota. Waziyatawin, who has only one name and is a member of the Dakota First Nation, was said to have made comments about reclaiming aboriginal lands “by any means necessary.”
She was investigated after a letter to the editor complaining about the lecture appeared in a local newspaper, but the FBI closed the file on Tuesday. “The FBI agent informed me he was closing the case after listening to the original presentation as it was clear I had not made the statement that a young, white male student had complained about,” Waziyatawin told the Victoria Times Colonist.
The FBI is not commenting on the case but a representative said that “When there’s a speech which is in the arena of violent rhetoric, the FBI will at least review that speech to make sure no state or federal laws have been violated.”
Waziyatawin, an associate professor, holds the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Peoples at UVic.
Are we to be surprised?
The dispute between the UVic Student Society (UVSS) and the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) has headed to a lawsuit. It may end up costing the UVSS upwards of $100,000.
Is anyone surprised?
For those blissfully unaware, last year a petition was circulated at UVic to defederate from the CFS (it’s sort of a fad these days), which got the John Hancock’s of 11.4 per cent of the student body. However, the CFS said a counter-petition was sent to them with names of people who signed the original petition, thus removing them from that petition, thus reducing the tally to under the 10 per cent threshold needed to pass. Oh, and they also claimed that the UVSS couldn’t leave until it paid a six-figure debt that traced back from the 1990′s…which they only decided to tell the UVSS about after they threatened to leave (ah, student politics).
Even if the judge found the original petition to be valid, there’s no guarantee (unless the court ordered it) that a referendum would immediately ensue—CFS bylaws only allow for two schools to hold a referendum each semester.
Now, at this point, the 10 people reading this post who have no set opinion towards the CFS might be asking “doesn’t the CFS realize that based on past precedent, judges will allow the referendum to happen?”
Well yes, I’m sure that thought has crossed their minds. However, for the CFS, this may be less about trying to win a lawsuit and more about running out the clock. “It’s our hope that we have a referendum by the end of next semester,” said UVSS Chair James Coccola, which is an obvious goal if only because after next semester his term will be over, and who knows what the next group of executives will want to do?
Coccola was elected as part of the RENEW slate, which won three of the four executive positions, marking the first time in over a decade that the slate most closely aligned with the CFS hasn’t been in power. So there are two ways of looking at this—either this was a a sea change in the political culture, or a one-time move to the centre by UVic students. If it’s the latter, than all it takes is a new pro-CFS group of student politicians to be elected for the course to change.
BC’s Minister for Universities may have a very short tenure
Fans of schadenfreude, grassroots populism and reenactments of the Titanic have been enjoying the goings-on in British Columiba politics over the past year, as the Liberal Party has been in free-fall since they announced the implementation of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) right after being re-elected in May 2009.
A successful petition for a referendum on the tax generated hundreds of thousands of signatures, and now organizers, led by former Premier Bill Vander Zalm, have begun the next stage of campaign: recalling MLAs.
To be successful, a petition must have 40 per cent of eligible voters from the riding, and must be completed within 60 days. The first recall initiative begins on Monday, and the target is Ida Chong, MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head, located in Victoria.
(well, not actually “Victoria”. Victoria as most Canadians know is a series of small municipalities, with the capital city at the centre. If you live in Victoria, as I did for 18 years, this becomes very annoying to explain time and time again. Oak Bay-Gordon Head is located in two of these smaller municipalities. We now depart my Grade 10 Civics class, and return to the blog post)
This is interesting to university-watchers for two reasons. The first tie-in is that Chong is the newly appointed Minister of Science and Universities. The second is that Oak Bay-Gordon Head, aside from being home to a plethora of public sector employees (28 per cent of the population in 2001) and old people (21 per cent over 65, from the same year), is home to the University of Victoria.
Now, it doesn’t take much to assume that a university student in Victoria is more likely to be on the left of the political spectrum than not. Until this year, for example, UVic’s student union was dominated for over a decade by a pro-Canadian Federation of Students slate, and generally advocated for policy positions to the left of the NDP. So one can expect at the very least a few thousand eager participants in the recall process.
However, there’s a catch. In BC, recall legislation states that “In order to sign a recall petition an individual must have been a registered voter for the electoral district for which the member was elected on general voting day for the last election of the member.”
Meaning, for a UVic student to sign a recall petition, they would have had to be a registered voter in Oak Bay-Gordon Head in the 2009 election, which would remove most first and second year students. Moreover, aside from being 18 months ago, it is also outside of the traditional school year. The thousands of UVic students who went home/vacationing during the 2009 summer won’t be eligible. So the student influence may not be as strong as it would originally seem.
But will the recall be successful? Well, I’m no Nate Silver, but if it’s going to pass anywhere, Oak Bay-Gordon Head could very well be it. Vancouver Island has always been solidly anti-Campbell, but more importantly, the riding is dense enough and close enough to Vancouver to ensure there will be an army of canvassers. The relative lack of apartments in the riding will make it easier to knock on every door, too.
On the other hand, it’s quite possible that some of the sentiment against the HST has wavered with a) A referendum date set for the HST, and b) Campbell’s promise to resign as premier. Whatever the case, the clock begins to tick Monday.
When an event is hosted by multiple law firms it’s kind of like speed dating
There are a lot of things that happen at law school which, I presume, people get quickly used to and absorb into their normal conception of the way things are and how they work, but when first encountered as a wide-eyed first year can seem strange and foreign and completely intimidating, especially given the wide variety of backgrounds from which first-year law students come. Most of those backgrounds, I assume, don’t include going to wine and cheese events.
UVic’s first wine and cheese event, hosted by big Calgary and Vancouver firms in town to conduct interviews, was on Monday. The event invitation went out to everyone, and like so many things I’m confronted with that involve new experiences, my first instinct was to hide under my couch at home until the event had passed. Journalism, the subject of my previous career and degree, is many things, but it is not generally considered to be fancy. Nor am I, for that matter. Wine and cheese events, on the other hand, seem entirely predicated on fanciness. Moreover, that was about the extent of my knowledge on the subject — that these things are fancy. Outside of that, I had no conception whatsoever of the things that were meant to happen there, who was supposed to go and who we were supposed to talk to.
Then, of course, I had the following conversation that is kind of like a first year law student Mad Lib, repeated ad nauseum for the first few weeks of school, when there are roughly 18 billion things for us to attend:
Student A: Are you going to [X] tonight?
Student B: I don’t know, I was thinking about it, but I’m not sure. I have so many readings to do, and no one to go with.
Student A: Me too. Hey what if we went together?
Student B: Brilliant! Then we wouldn’t be alone! I’m sure [Students C-Z] would also want to come too. Then we’d be a group, so if nothing else we can stick together.
This is how, on Monday night, instead of doing the readings for my first Torts class, I ended up with three of my classmates heading to the Wine and Cheese event we knew nothing about, except that we had to dress in business attire.
As it turns out, a Wine and Cheese hosted by multiple law firms is kind of like speed dating. The firms sat at tables lining the room, and upon entering we were given a map and bios of each firm present. The responsibility to strike up a conversation with any given firm representative fell upon the students.
This was slightly awkward, insofar as myself and the people I was with were acutely aware that we currently have nothing to offer these people. Monday was actually the first day of real classes for us, so the entirety of our legal knowledge consisted of about two hours of our first Property Law class. We were all of the opinion that practising lawyers would have very little interest in talking about the fundamental principles of property rights.
So what we did instead was to go up to any representatives at a table who looked bored or lonely, introduce ourselves as first years who had had one day of formal instruction, and ask if they had any general advice for us on the first day of class looking forward to the rest of our careers given that most of us have no clue what we want to do, let alone how to go about doing it.
Everyone was really friendly, and quick with helpful general advice, like first-year law grades matter less than any other line on your transcript. That you don’t need a law job after first year if you don’t feel comfortable getting one. That big firms are largely the same in terms of the areas of law practised, so what can be most important is finding one where you fit in personally. That we shouldn’t panic (which is something we’ve been hearing a lot lately, usually because we’re all panicking.)
So, in the end, it was a completely worthwhile thing to go to, even though none of us went expressly to schmooze or “make connections,” which is often other students’ stated purpose for going to these kinds of functions.
And if nothing else, we got a free dinner. I will say this: “cheese” is a misnomer. There was an unbelievable array of delicious, plentiful food there; so much so that we cancelled our post-event dinner plans to go home and digest . . . and get those Torts readings done.
Image: Getty Images
The giraffe learned to walk and we’ll all learn to moot — and be glad that there will never be a YouTube video of what we looked like Monday afternooon.
If the calendar is to be believed (and I’m not putting forward that it is) I’ve been in law school classes for one week now. Gauging by my own exhaustion, I should be ready to graduate next week. It would seem, though, that parchments aren’t doled out based on how tired first-year students feel, especially when it’s radiantly obvious we’re lacking skills that need at least three years to develop.
At UVic, the first two weeks of school see regular law classes postponed in favour of one two-week course called Legal Process. The course is designed to give us an overview of what we’ll be learning over the next three years and some of the skills we’re going to need to learn it. I think it’s a cool idea for lots of reasons, one of which is that it makes it patently obvious how much we don’t know and how much we’re all going to grow and change over the course of our degree.
Case in point — on Monday, we were given our first-ever moot court exercise. Basically, we were given a made-up scenario whereby a law student was suing the University and a meat distributor after he ate a hamburger at a school barbecue that made him sick. Our job was to act as the various parties in court and formulate arguments to student judges using points of law in combination with the facts we were given. As it turns out, students who have had three days of legal instruction and have read a grand total of two cases they can refer to as precedent trying to do a moot court looks a lot like the law student version of this:
Except that it was even more hilarious than that video. Still, despite my own stuttering performance as one of the designated plaintiff’s lawyers, it was the most fun I’ve had here yet. The giraffe learned to walk and we’ll all learn to moot — and be glad that there will never be a YouTube video of what we looked like Monday afternooon.
If you answered yes to all the above questions, Congrats! You were at the first day of UVic law with me.
1. Did you have to actively concentrate to avoid stepping on or kicking a bunny on your way to class? (Yes/No)
2. Did the Dean of your school give the following speech: “Look at the student on your right. Now look at the student on your left. You just made two new friends!” (Yes/No)
2a. Did the Dean then give you prescribed time to enter your new friends number in your notebook or cellular telephone. (Yes/No)
3. Did an elder from the Coast Salish nation welcome your class and remind you to be grateful for your family and friends who helped get you to school? (Yes/No)
4. Did the Dean, several times throughout the morning, ask you to look into your neighbour’s eyes and tell them they deserved to be there and/or various other positive affirmations about their self worth? (Yes/No)
5. Did you get a bag full of swag that included, among other things, an eco-friendly water bottle? (Yes/No)
If you answered yes to all the above questions, Congrats! You were at the first day of UVic law with me. If you answered No to any, I’m sorry. Your day was probably way less awesome than mine.
(Now I’m excited. This is starting to seem less scary and more fun…)
Feral rabbits on campus will be euthanized or sterilized
The original plan was to trap and euthanize the rabbits to cut down the population, but the new agenda includes a sterilization option. A contractor will set traps around campus and rabbits will either be euthanized or sterilized and relocated. The sterilized rabbits can be adopted by applying for a permit from the Ministry of Environment.
Although, ideally, I’d like to see no rabbits euthanized, it’s good to hear that UVic is trying out other options. With any luck, the Coalition for the Ethical Treatment of UVic Rabbits can recognize this announcement as a positive step forward. The focus can now (hopefully) be shifted to finding accommodation.
UVic will keep just 200 feral rabbits on campus, with 50 in each “rabbit control” quadrant.
-Photo by litlnemo
While the legality of UBC issuing parking tickets is still in limbo, the university, along with UVic, has decided to reinstitute the practice after a four-month reprieve
Four months ago, University of British Columbia students scored one for casual civil disobedience when the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that the university had been illegally issuing parking tickets on campus for years, and had to pay back more than $4 million worth of fines. The judge in the case ruled that while UBC had the right to tow and impound vehicles parked illegally, they didn’t actually have the right to issue parking tickets (Sidenote: UBC often likes to pretend it has the same powers as a city, without any of the sticky issues that come with “democracy” and “accountability”).
In any case, the decision was appealed, but in the short term both UBC and UVic decided to stop issuing parking tickets, instead simply towing a very very small percentage of illegally parked cars. From my experience, it did little to stop students from taking the risk. However, the B.C. Court of Appeals decided to stay the part of the decision that dealt with the fines, which meant that UBC and UVic could reinstitute them until the appeal was resolved. And it appears that they’ve decided to do just that. UVic announced yesterday that the fines will be coming back on July 20th, and today, UBC followed suit. I’ve been told by Scott Macrae, executive director of public affairs at UBC, that this notice will be going on UBC’s website shortly:
Parking fines resume July 20
UBC will resume charging fines for violations of the Parking Regulations on July 20.
UBC had ceased charging fines at its Vancouver and Kelowna campuses as a result of a decision of the British Columbia Supreme Court on March 30, 2009 regarding certain issues in a class action. That decision found that, although UBC can tow vehicles parked in violation of the Parking Regulations and charge reasonable towing and storage fees, UBC does not have the power to charge fines under the University Act. UBC appealed the decision on its power to charge fines, and on July 10, the British Columbia Court of Appeal ordered a stay of the decision until disposition of the appeal.
The stay enables UBC, pending the appeal, to continue to enforce the Parking Regulations by charging fines for violations, as it has done for many years. Persons who violate the Parking Regulations can once again expect to receive Traffic Notices charging fines. In addition, violators will be subject to towing as set out in the Parking Regulations.
The UBC Parking Regulations are available on the web at http://www.parking.ubc.ca
Canada’s largest national student group loses referendum votes, but signals that it may not recognize some results
Students at Simon Fraser University and Cape Breton University, and graduate students at the University of Victoria, last week voted resoundingly to cease membership in the Canadian Federation of Students.
The electoral committee at SFU announced Friday that students voted 66 per cent in favour of cutting ties with Canada’s largest student lobby organization. At Cape Breton, 92 per cent of student voters were reported to have cast their ballots against the CFS. And at the University of Victoria, 58 per cent of graduate students voted against the CFS. Undergrads at Victoria did not take part in the referendum and remain within the CFS.
“This is a clear democratic mandate. There is no way to read these results as anything but a clear indication that SFU wants to leave the Federation,” Simon Fraser Student Society President Derrick Harder told the campus newspaper, the Peak. “Students have excellent bullshit detectors and those were going off like crazy over the past two weeks.”
The votes, however, may not spell the end of the matter. CFS national chairperson Amanda Aziz hinted to the Peak that her organization had concerns about the accuracy and fairness of the process. “Some of the things that I saw were ballots being found outside of the polling locations, people from the no campaign campaigning right beside the polling station[s], in fact, directing people in terms on how they should be voting on each of the questions, polls running out of ballots, [and] ballots being found outside of polling locations,” Aziz said.
Last week, before the results were announced, Aziz told Maclean’s that “the campaign at SFU has been quite positive,” though she did say that she believed that “there is a lot of misinformation being spread by the SFSS (Simon Fraser Students Society) executive that we are unfortunately spending a lot of time having to correct.”
As for the referendum at Cape Breton, Aziz said that the CFS would not recognize its result. “Whatever vote that may have taken place at Cape Breton University would not relieve Cape Breton University Students’ Union of its contractual obligations to the other student unions which comprise the Federation,” Aziz wrote to Maclean’s.
The CFS is not expected to recognize the referendum because it says proper procedures were not followed. The CFS says that it never received notification of CBU’s intention to hold a referendum. CBU claims that notice was served—along with a petition signed by 500 students—six months in advance of the vote as required by CFS bylaws.
CBU’s student government also says that the vote was representative of student sentiment. “We made our quorum and when you look at it there were about 200 more people who voted this election then voted when we joined CFS,” Ian Lindsay, CBU students’ union president, told the Cape Breton Times and Transcript. “Obviously we would have liked more students to vote, but we are happy we had this turnout.”
The Martlet, the student newspaper at UVic, reported that the referendum campaign there was dominated by those supporting the CFS. The CFS side held a barbecue for graduate students and had a visible presence on campus with colourful pamphlets and numerous supporters. The “No” campaign claims it barely had a campaign at all. “We only had one banner, [a website], and one set of buttons. That’s our entire campaign,” said Tayfun Ince, a member of the No campaign and former chair of the Graduate Students’ Society. “We had nothing for material. We didn’t use a single sheet of paper.”
At SFU, both campaigns were highly visible, although the pro-CFS side initially appeared to be stronger. As the vote neared, students seemed to be growing tired of the constant solicitation from both sides. In a letter to the Peak, one student complained about “thousands of imposing posters on every wall and [... people] trying to intercept your every move.”
Meanwhile, the Kwantlen Students Association (KSA), of BC’s Kwantlen University College, claimed victory last week after a BC Supreme Court hearing regarding their upcoming referendum. The CFS sought to delay the vote until the fall. However, the court ordered that the vote, that was originally scheduled at the same time as the SFU and UVic referendums, be delayed until April 8. “In regards to Kwantlen,” Aziz said, “we are satisfied with the outcome of the injunction, and that the judge recognized that the KSA executive had broken the rules.”
The CFS is Canada’s largest student lobby organization. Half a million students at more than 80 universities and colleges are members of the organization. Each student organization that is a member of the CFS pays dues to the national and provincial arms of the organization. According to the most recent available numbers, SFU students paid $400,000 in 2005 to the CFS.
Students at Kwantlen, SFU, and UVic are scheduled to vote this month on membership in the national student lobby group
The Canadian Federation of Students filed a petition in the BC Supreme Court last week for an injunction that would postpone a membership referendum at Kwantlen University College.
The vote on whether to remain a member of Canada’s largest student lobby group is currently scheduled to begin March 18. But if the CFS’ petition is successful, the vote will be rescheduled until the fall.
The CFS is dealing with simultaneous membership referendums at Simon Fraser University and the University of Victoria (graduate students). Cape Breton University’s students’ union has also posted notice of referendum but it is unclear whether that vote will follow the CFS’ bylaws.
The CFS court petition claims that the Kwantlen Students’ Association, which is opposed to maintaining membership in the CFS, has broken a number of CFS referendum bylaws. It argues that the committee in charge of overseeing the referendum (that includes reps from both the KSA and CFS) has made little progress on key issues, including the referendum question, voting procedures, and alleged violations of bylaws. It also claims that the KSA has been campaigning since September, long before the scheduled campaign period.
Titus Gregory, a policy analyst at the KSA, said that part of the disagreement comes down to what is considered campaign material. All materials are supposed to be approved by the committee. According to Gregory, the CFS representatives don’t consider CFS general materials to count—such as posters or handouts for their “I Am CFS” campaign. But he says they do consider the KSA newsletter to be a campaign material.
The CFS petition also protests how poll clerks have been hired and the KSA appointment of an independent chief returning officer.
Gregory says he expects that students will vote to terminate membership with the CFS. “The campaign is going quite well. There are few students who support membership in the CFS,” he said.
Calls to CFS-BC, national chairperson Amanda Aziz, and CSF-BC chairperson Seamus Reid were not returned.
Meanwhile, Aziz was on campus Tuesday at Simon Fraser University, campaigning in favour of continued CFS membership there, along with a sizable group of students, including students from other universities including Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops. The campaign opposed to CFS membership had a much smaller presence on campus.
SFU had a non-binding referendum on CFS membership last year, in which 70 per cent of 1,300 students voted to leave the CFS.
The loss of the SFSS’s membership would be a significant blow to the CFS, which received over $400,000 in membership fees in 2005 from Simon Fraser University students. This funding is divided between the national and provincial organizations.
A SFU students’ union working group struck last year to assess their relationship with the CFS reported a number of issues that led to the referendum. These include allegations that the CFS interferes or is “over-involved” in student union elections.
CFS-BC responded to the submission with its own. It details the organization’s services and lobbying track record. The document states, “No campus, no matter how big or active, has the resources or the political clout to effectively influence the post-secondary education policies of the federal government.” The document does not address the problems alleged in the working group’s submission.
In support of its decision to leave the CFS, the submission by the SFSS working group also cites allegations of financial mismanagement in relation to a loan given to the Douglas Student’s Union (DSU) at a time when serious questions were being raised about that union’s financial controls. A forensic audit of the DSU — ordered to look into “significant deficiencies in internal controls” — reported that the CFS-Services and CFS-BC made three loans, for $100,000 in October 2005, $50,000 in December, and $50,000 in January 2006. The alleged advances took place while Douglas College refused to remit payment of student fees to the students’ union because of concerns about the union’s financial management. The audit also stated that none of the loans were approved by the union and were entered into without proper authorization.