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The Ubyssey Jan 19, 2007

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Crap dogs UBC's cans (8)
J.G. Ballard's new novel envisions a hellish suburbia (2)
Friday, 19 January 2007       Always advocating alliteration! since 1918
How to build
2. Take a good two years to figure out
the bureaucracy of the system. Take
another two to figure out what the
point of it is.
1. Empower yourself! Get charged up
about student society issues! You can
make a difference!
3. Stop the presses! Elections issues
may not be what you think they are.
Rethink what you're trying to
Rory Smith
AMS VP Academic
'There are serious issues to
discuss. But I only have 30
seconds to talk about it."
Name: George Michael
VFM Coordinator
'Conflicts of interest, schmon-
flicts of schminterest."
[Name: Ron Little
,-J Occupation:
^[AMS Finance
"Thanks to Voter Funded Media
people are aware that last year I
crunched numbers and did budgeting, and I warn to do it again!"
Name: Gilbert Dowco
Business Manager
"Voter Funded Media has allowed
me to start my own publication.
Now the UBC Raelian Society is
$5,000 in debt. Raelians rock." Culture
Friday, 19 January, 2007   THE UBYSSEY
'The suburbs dream of violence'
By LG. Ballard
Harper Perennial
Illustration by Caroline Chuang
by Kaan Eraslan
When you think about shopping
malls and society's consuming
habits, you tend not to associate
them with violence, fascism,
Nazis and overall public chaos. It
turns out that J.G. Ballard is a
man who has given serious
thought to all of these twisted concepts and moulds them together
in Kingdom Come, a story about a
man trying to solve the mystery of
his father's murder, in a town
where a shopping centre has fragmented society into angry, violent
sports clubs. These clubs attack
Asian businesses and have daily
riots to satisfy their mundane
lives, in which shopping is their
only solitude.
Richard Pearson, an ex-advertising agent, becomes entangled in
a conspiracy when he travels to a
Northern England town called
Brooklands to attend his father's
funeral. His father was shot in the
colossal Metro-Centre shopping
mall along with many others by a
lone sniper with a vendetta against
the consumerist haven. At first, his
father's death seems to be a case of
being in the "wrong place at the
wrong time," but Richard soon discovers that everything is not as it
seems in this town, where everyone is seemingly corrupted by the
During his unravelling of the
mystery, Richard meets several
people who seem to be connected
in a small rebellion to stop the
Metro-Centre and the violence that
spawns from it. These odd and
unruly characters include a disgruntled schoolteacher, an odd
psychiatrist, a shady police officer,
a violent sponsor, and a good-
hearted doctor. Each of these characters has their own agenda and
some of them are no better than
the thugs who terrorise the streets
of Brooklands.
In Kingdom Come, J.G. Ballard
criticises the modern world and
the materialism that motivates
mass-consumption societies. By
drawing parallels between nazism
and capitalism, he expands into
the future, showing a fascist state
created by a gigantic mall and
bored suburban citizens. Ballard's
ideas are thought-provoking as
well as entertaining, but sometimes he goes to the point where
the hyper-surrealistic future he
has created becomes too bizarre.
An example of said weirdness
occurs when the citizens in the
Metro-Centre start painting barcodes on themselves in an
attempt to become the consumer
goods which they have begun to
worship. His ideas, though well-
intentioned, come off as condescending and outright ridiculous
regarding the human psyche.
The second half of the story
fails to do justice to an extremely
strong opening, due to Ballard's
overcooked ideas. There are
signs of brilliance, but Ballard
goes too far and the realism that
beckons readers from the beginning become too far-fetched to
follow. He throws around ideas
such as the Third Reich and
Hitler, and tries to glue them to a
shopping mall, but it just doesn't
®-~P k
stick convincingly. These ideas
work when they are kept in a
smaller context, and that's why
the story's first half succeeds.
Another puzzling aspect is the
protagonist, Richard Pearson.
Here is a man who barely knows
his murdered father, yet he puts
his entire life on hold and
changes his lifestyle to solve the
man's death. The reason why this
is puzzling is because Ballard
doesn't present a clear motive
for Richard or for his actions. It's
hard to understand why Richard
does the things he does, and what
he hopes to achieve by doing
them. Perhaps this is what
Ballard intended, because in a
way, Richard seems to be in a
stage of his life where he is lost
and unsure of what he wants to
do. Even so, this detail detracts
Calling all Hobbits!
BOLD program at UBC and
Robson Square: UBC
specialises in DNA evidence
Jan. 19,730pm
A book launch for'Trom
City of Bhangra
Hobbits to Hollywood"and
UBC Robson Square
"Lord of the Rings: Popular
Jan. 19-20
Culture in Global Context,"
The last weekend of a celebra
two new books by UBC profes
tion of the music/dance of
sor Ernest Mathijs and Ryerson
Bhangra, with events being
University professor Murray
held throughout the down
town core. Come for work
shops, performances, and
Vancouver CSI
much more.
Woodward IRC, Lecture
Hall 2
21st Century Flea Market
Jan. 20,8:15pm
Croatian Cultural Centre
David Sweet speaks on den
Jan. 21, 10:00am-3:00pm
tistry and Crime Scene
175 tables of relics from the
Investigation. Sweet runs the
20th century.Tickets $3.
FOR AFRICA. Please donate any books
you art unable to sell back at buybacks!
You can donate your books at UBC Hook
Store, Woodward library and Education
library until January 19th.
WOMEN ON TOH A Comedy of
Flamboyant Gender-Benders!! January
27-30, 8 pm, 57/10; Matinee at 3 pm,
January 28. Detwiller Lecture Theatre,
22^5 Wesbrook Mall, directly south of
UBC Hospital Based on Assemblywomen
by Aristophanes Adapted by Matthew
Klippenstein; Directed by Irina
lei D pic ton
In January 16's article "Legitimacy concerns looms over Voted
Funded Media" Stephanie Ryan is actually heading Election
Daily and not the Underground. The Ubyssey regrets the error.
UBC Film Society
»*jr" ^&~ . SINCE 1935
7:00 Ordinary People (DVD)
9:30 Chariots of Fire (16mm)
7:00 The Prestige (PG)
9:30 Babel (18A)
CONFERENCE (MURC):  Deadline for
submission of abstracts to present at the
conference is on January 26. Deadline ro
register for the conference is February 23.
Deadline: January 31, 2007. Participate
in cutting-edge arthritis research in an
industry setting. Salary: USD SlG-2l)/hr.
Airfare and initial visa application costs
are covered, for more information visit
www a rt h r it isn erwo rh .ca
Deadline: January 31. 2007. Work
with a researcher conducting research/
development focused on arthritis.
Successful applicants receive a bursary
and applicable travel expenses. Visit
arthritisncrwork.ca for more information.
Screenings @ Norm Theatre in SL
Admission: $3.50 [non-members) $2.00 (members)
Membership: S10 (students)
For more info, call 604 822 3697 or visit www.ams.ubc.ca/clubs/filmsoc
ELECTIONS! Poll Clerks needed for 2hr
shifts on Jan 31. Email: cro@ams.ubc.ca
from the experience of an overall
solid story.
Kingdom Come may be farfetched at times, but if one keeps
an open mind, there is a great
message to be found and an exciting story to be read. Ballard may
be treading on familiar ground
with this book, because many of
his stories such as Crash, High-
Rise and Cocaine Nights offer
similar insights and criticism
of modern society. However,
Kingdom Come will make you
think twice about how important
consumerist goods can be for
your life. Despite some silliness
and inconsistencies with some
characters, Ballard's tale has
enough intrigue and excitement
to outweigh anything negative
and, in the end, he delivers an
enjoyable read. @
TOASTMASTERS. Benefits of being a
club member: Receive a comprehensive
manual that gradually builds your
communication skills; Constructive
evaluations given for each of your
prepared speech; Enhanced Interview
skills through impromptu speeches at
every meeting; Upon completion of 10
speeches, you will be issued a certificate
Irom Toasrmasters, an organization
recognized worldwide: Decorate your
resume lor that desired position or
promotion; Develop communication and
leadership skills; Foster sclf-confidcncc
in a mutually supportive lud positive
learning environment. Want to know
more about this great club: you are
invited to check out our weekly meetings,
lime: Every Wednesday: 7pm-Vpm (year
round)> Location: Henry Angus Room
223, Contact: waltcr.gagc.toastmasters^1
gmail.com *As a non-profit organization.
lij.Ki:ii.isi.'rs International will i harp.
li modest amount to the annual and
monthly club fee.
.caaemic services
PAPERS? ESSAYS? Retiicd Lawycr-
25 years. Former Professor—1 years.
Interested in proof-reading, organizing
and correcting for you. No difficulties in
comprehending papers written on nearly
any topic. Can make your compositions
clear, forceful and meaningful. Kmail Dan
To place
an ad or a classified,
call 604-822-1654
or visit Room 23
in the SUB
Friday, 19 January, 2007
Editorial Board
coordinating editor Erie Szeto
coordina ting@ubyssey.be.ca
news editors   Colleen Tang &d
Brandon Adams
news@ubyssey.be. ca
culture editor Jesse Ferreras
culture@ubyssey.be. ca
sports editor Boris Korby
sports@ubyssey.be. ca
features/national EDITOR
Momoko Price
photo editor Oker Chen
Champagne Choquer
productio n@ubyssey.be. ca
copy editor Levi Barnett
copy@ubyssey bc.ca
volunteers@ ubyssey. bc.ca
research/letters Andrew MacRae
feedback@ubyssey.be. ca
webmaster Matthew Jewkes
webmaster@ ubyssey. bc.ca
The Ubyssey is the official student newspaper of the University
of British Columbia. It is published every Tuesday and Friday
by The Ubyssey Publications Society. We are an autonomous,
democratically run student organisation, and all students are
encouraged to participate.
Editorials are chosen and written by the Ubyssey staff. They
are the expressed opinion of the staff, and do not necessarily
reflect the views of The Ubyssey Publications Society or the
University of British Columbia. All editorial content appearing in
The Ubyssey is the property of The Ubyssey Publications Society.
Stories, opinions, photographs and artwork contained herein
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Letters to the editor must be under 300 words. Please include
your phone number, student number and signature (not for
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ID will be checked when submissions are dropped off at the
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under 750 words and are run according to space."Freestyles" are
opinion pieces written by Ubyssey staff members. Priority will be
given to letters and perspectives over freestyles unless the latter is
time sensitive. Opinion pieces will not be run until the identity of
the writer has been verified. The Ubyssey reserves the right to edit
submissions for length and clarity. All letters must be received by
12 noon the day before intended publication. Letters received after
this point will be published in the following issue unlessthere is an
urgent time restriciton or other matter deemed relevant by the
Ubyssey staff.
It is agreed by all persons placing display or classified advertising
that if the Ubyssey Publications Society fails to publish an
advertisement or if an error in the ad occurs the liability of the
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shall not be responsible for slight changes or typographical errors
that do not lessen the value or the impact of the ad.
Room 24, Student Union Building
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tel: 604-822-2301
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advertising: 604-822-1654
business office: 604-822-6681
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e-mail: ad vertising@ ubyssey. bc.ca
business manager Fernie Pereira
ad sales Cynthia Zhao
ad design Shalene Takara
Simon Unde
One Leigh-Anne Mathieson and one Samantha Jung wanted
for the brutal murder of Eric Szeto and Colleen Tang. Police
reports indicate Brandon Adams and Jesse Ferraras were sitting quietly in their duplex, watching the Late Night Show
with Boris Korby, when they heard the sound of Momoko
Price going off. Next door, Oker Chen sat bolt upright in bed,
and dashed to the Champagne Choquer and dialed the Levi
Barnett. Officers Paul Bucci and Andrew MacRae arrived on
the Claudia Li too late, letting the fugitives escape in their
Matthew Jewkes. Steven Judy, Kellan Higgins and Eva
Lilliquist offered to hunt down the murders and let a little
folk justice happen, but the police politely declined.
editorial graphic Michael Bround
University      Canada Post Sales Agreement
Number 0040878022 THE UBYSSEY   Friday, 19 January, 2007
Where Inuit sculpture is now
Surrey exhibit challenges traditional notions of Inuit art
at the Surrey Art Gallery
Until March 11
by Chelsea Thcriault
In the fickle world of art galleries, "contemporary sculpture" tends to imply something so
avant-garde that it reaches the point of absurdity. Yet contemporary Inuit sculpture, as seen in
the Surrey Art Gallery's newest exhibit "Inuit
Sculpture Now" is nothing of the sort; rather,
conventional practices blend seamlessly with
modern subject matter to create beautiful and
thought-provoking art
The National Gallery of Canada brought us
this compelling exhibit, which is circulating
through galleries across the country. Its home
on the West Coast is in Surrey where it will be
shown until March.
The purpose of the show is to update the
idea of what "contemporary" Inuit sculpture
really is. In the past, artwork from nearly 50
years ago was often lumped into this category, which is why all 25 pieces chosen for this
exhibit were created exclusively within the
last ten years.
Christine    Lalonde,    curator    of   the
National   gallery,   conducted a tour at the
November 18 opening and described what
set the chosen pieces aside from
more    traditional    forms.
Whereas traditional Inuit
sculpture    is   usually
based   around   folk
legends and the natural   environment
of the North, many
sculptors   of  the
past decade have
based their work
around   autobiographical       elements.   Some   of
the   pieces   make
cathartic reference
to the modern Inuit
fear  of losing touch   ,
with  tradition   in   an
increasing homogenised
society.   As   described   by
Lalonde, the sculptors "use their
art to rebuild that bridge, to connect back to
what they have lost. It is a personal avenue
for them."
Despite a diversity of subject matter,
these contemporary Inuit artists have chosen to stick with traditional mediums and
materials for their sculpture (with a few
exceptions, such as the inclusion of precious metals.) "Inuit Sculpture Now" features many recognisably Inuit soapstone
carvings, as well as pieces made with
whale bone, ivory, bear claws, antlers
and feathers. But no fear, animal
lovers: Lalonde assured her patrons
that the artists featured "don't kill
for art."
Many of the sculptures demonstrate a visible duality, where
contemporary elements sit alongside traditional ones. In the words
of Michael Massie, whose piece
"Unit-tea" is on the brochure for
the exhibit.
"All   I   really  want  to   do   is
express what I see,"  he  said.  "If
it comes out as being Inuit, then I
think  that's   fine.   If  it  comes   out
as being contemporary, that is also fine.
I think that a lot of times I have the tendency to  put the  two  of them  together  to
see what happens."
The result is sculpture that is powerfully
moving as well as beautiful. If you're looking for an exciting new exhibit, trade in the
VAG for the SAG and see some real "Inuit
Sculpture Now." @
History Revisited in intimate setting
at the PuSh Festival for the Performing Arts
Until January 20
by Andrea Loewen
Most theatre artists will claim that their role in
society is, at its simplest, that of the storyteller.
Revisited takes theatre back to the very core of
storytelling—a man sitting at a table with 28
guests and telling the story of a small town.
The result is magic. The story is incredibly
simple, about small-town people who dream
of something more, and the desire to revisit
one's past. The magic lies in the purity and
honesty of its narration. Stephen McCarthy literally creates the town in front of your eyes
with the joy and imagination of a little boy setting up a train set. He is like the friendly neighbourhood storyteller, who likes to show what
he's telling. McCarthy narrates the story and
plays all of its characters except for young
Lucy, the town sweetheart, played beautifully
by Michelle Monteith.
There wasn't a moment lost on either of
these actors who lived fully and honestly
throughout the play, an especially key element in such an intimate setting. McCarthy
easily carried the show. When he narrated it
was as if he was revealing a deep and mysterious secret to the audience, and each
character he played was full and alive. When
her character could have easily been heavy
with angst or poetics, Monteith played Lucy
with heartbreaking transparency.
Despite the stripped-down nature of the
show, it maintains an element of theatricality through the use of light and sound.
Richard Feren's sound design fit in perfectly with McCarthy's storytelling, creating a
three-dimensional world that was complete
and believable, and Christian Barry's light
design was evocative and creative, building
the audience and the actors' sparse props
into the design.
The setting for the play is of course one of
the most innovative aspects of it. Seating the
audience around a large wooden table alongside the actors helps create a certain intima
cy between all involved. The table acts as a
meeting place, as well as a stage where the
town is built up within arms reach of the
audience. The only divide between actor and
audience is that the actors are the ones doing
the talking, and even that feels thin, as
though the actors are almost inviting the
audience to join in and tell their own story.
The show itself was conceived of and
directed by Christian Barry who in the end
succeeds in creating a world that is innovative, exciting, humble, and beautiful all at
the same time. @
stretches physical
at the PuSh Festival for the Performing Arts
January 18
by Andrea Loewen
Watching Karine Ponties' performance is like a
study in the human body: what it is and what it can
be. Based on a collaboration with Thierry Van
Hasselt, a Belgian comic book artist, Brutaiis is a
piece that lasts 5 5 minutes but feels like five.
The piece opens with an onstage lamp as the
sole source of light and two legs splayed out on
either side. With amazing control, Ponties flexes a
muscle, shifts her weight, or wiggles a toe and the
image completely changes. Her progressions are
incredibly slow and precise, creating a sense of
mystery around each movement. Sometimes it's
hard to tell if she is moving at all, until you realise
she has contorted her body into an entirely new
position. This complete mastery over her body
becomes more and more evident throughout the
piece. It is as though muscles and bones are
Ponties' playthings as she molds and shapes her
body into such shapes that you're left questioning
what makes them human.
The total control she has over her muscles and
joints combines with her deep understanding of
light and darkness to create surreal images on
stage. Each piece is like a dialogue between her
body and the light, to the point where it feels like
the light is another performer on stage, a notion
she is happy to support. In the talkback session
after her performance, Ponties was eager to credit her co-collaborators, especially lighting designer
Florence Richards (with whom she has worked for
12 years). She explains the collaboration as one
where "everyone did everything and no one
remembered what they did," calling her body "just
a material" among the other materials used in the
creation process.
Ponties' view of her body as "just a material" seems evident in the ways she plays with it.
She examines the minute details of the materials that make up her body and invites the audience to examine each of her muscles and
joints. At times the movements are like a
game: "what happens to my body when I do
this," Ponties asks. She explores the grotesque
and abstract, contorting herself into shapes
like spiders, robots, aliens, or even headless
gremlins. She transforms from an unsure and
temperamental ingenue to a chubby-cheeked
comic book character.
The entire performance is like one big paradox: like a body that collapses and twists into itself
until it is no longer bound by the same rules that
govern our understanding of a body. The movements creep along at an astonishingly slow pace
until the performance is over, seemingly
moments after it's begun. @
rFnday ia-,ta    ,f*es colour tn »u
JJEjK to oKtn^'JS *« Stein
Currc„uWllei   -
1 finSirrco5t"5t
Ubyssey Publications Society
2007 Board of Directors Election
The Ubyssey Publications Society is the organization
responsible for publishing UBC's official student newspaper,
The Ubyssey. Its membership consists of all UBC students
who have not opted out of membership by completing an
opt-out form. Members arc eligible to run for, and vote in.
Board Elections.
The Board of Directors oversees the administrative
and business aspects of the paper including advertising,
marketing, distribution, the budget and the finances,
meetings of the Society, and management of employees.
The Board is not, however, involved in any editorial aspects
of the paper.
Term is February 2007 to February 2008. Directors attend
approximately 20 Board Meetings through the year in
addition to serving on Board Committees. No previous
experience with newspapers or the UPS is required.
Elections will be held in conjunction with the AMS
elections January 24th to 27th, 2007.
For more information, contact Fernie Pereira at 822-6681. Friday, 19 January, 2007    THE UBYSSEY
THE UBYSSEY   Friday, 19 January, 2007
text by Momoko Price, graphics by Kellan Higgins and Oker Chen
S i i ii c r,   D. . . .        -.   . ■»— m
Tl"s £°s/ Way ol Homei -
According to Trek 2010-UBC's
perpetual plan for the future-
students are expected to flourish into global citizens over the
course of their tenure at school.
Citizens who "within their own sphere
of influence, seek to imagine and work
towards a better world...who are able to
think beyond the boundaries of place
and identity/'whatever that means.
Our university's expectations of us
are certainly ambitious, even if they
are completely ambiguous. But you
have to wonder what UBC was thinking
when they came up with these lofty
"global" standards, if you consider
the low level of student interest in
campus politics an indication of real
political engagement.
The current state of student politics
at UBC isn't necessarily any worse off
than it was 20 years ago. About 10 per
cent of students voted then and about
10 per cent vote now. Our student government is certainly more functional
than that of our neighbors at Simon
Fraser, whose entire student society
executive council was impeached last
month at the insistence of the BC
Supreme Court. But in light of how idealists, administrators and politicians
continually tout university students as
the "leaders of tomorrow" and "the
voice of their generation," the fact that
voter turnout for student politics rarely
gets higher than 20 per cent is pretty
startling. Even in federal politics, voting among those aged 18-24 hovers
around 25 per cent, lagging far behind
the national average of 60 to 70.
Students just don't seem to care, or
at least that's how it looks on paper. But
do we? And when it comes to student
politics specifically, does it even matter?
People bring up all kinds of reasons
for why voting in student elections is so
low. Some say students have too many
other obligations and too little time to
care. Others point fingers at the lack of
awareness of student impact, the lack
of awareness of student issues, or even
the lack of student issues altogether.
Everyone has a theory for why we don't
care, but year after year no one really
makes an effort to tackle the problem.
That is, until recently. This month,
the UBC student community will be
participating in a social experiment of
sorts, one designed to pinpoint the
roots of voter apathy. The project is
called Voter Funded Media, or VFM,
and its creator Mark Latham is convinced it's going to work.
Coverage for the people, by the people?
Latham has just returned from the
National Conference For Media Reform
in Memphis, Tennessee, which boasted
the attendance of such public personas
as Geena Davis, Jesse Jackson, Amy
Goodman and U.S. Congressman Ed
Markey. He attended the event not only
to get informed about current media
issues, but also to lobby for his solution
to poor voter turnout and inadequate
elections media coverage. Though he
says his idea has not yet garnered
much support in the media reform
community, he is confident that once
it's put to the test, it's going to start getting some real attention.
The strategy behind VFM is simple:
give financial incentive for media outlets to cater to the public. Have some
money set aside to award the best coverage of elections and let the people
decide who gets it. "I was a commerce
graduate," he admits. "It's a commerce
solution." Essentially, it's a free-for-all:
a market-driven initiative to encourage
ruthless competition that theoretically
will create better elections coverage,
more informed voters and ultimately,
better elected officials. Because
Latham's model rests almost entirely
on the assumption that voters are
smart enough to support the organisation that best reflects their needs, the
only real rule is that there are no rules.
Anyone can register and may the best
man win.
Currently, our Alma Mater Society
(AMS) is organising the first ever test-
run of VFM to cover this year's AMS
Executive Council, Board of Governors
(BoG) and Senate elections campaigns.
According to AMS VP External Ian
Pattillo, the hope is that not only will
voter turnout increase, but general student awareness of what exactly the
AMS does will improve, too. Because as
it stands right now, most people don't
care what's going on, but there's a
chance this might be because people
don't understand what's going on in
the first place.
Going'round in circles
While others might say that voter
apathy and ignorance is a multi-faceted
problem, Latham thinks that misinformation is the key issue obscuring the
efficiency of the democratic process.
-Mark Latham
^m-eator of
Voter Funded Media (VFM)
"There's a big disconnect between
the voters and the people they elect," he
says. "There's an accountability link
there, and the link between voters is
very weak, especially because voters
have little or no information....A lot of
democracy depends on the connection
between the voters and those elected
and voter information is a key link."
However, he also recognises that his
model is vulnerable to pitfalls. First
and foremost, the idea that voter apathy can be rectified with voting is, he
admits, "a circular argument."
"This is an economist's design and
solution...there is a weakness in it in
that it does come back to voters, but if
you don't come back to voters it's not
very democratic," he says. "It's hard to
get out of that, and I wasn't trying to get
out of that. I was trying to empower voters and make democracy work better."
Latham cites another reason for low
voter turnout: Voting is a public service
done as a collective, and as such, the
outcome is determined by everyone,
not just you. The fact that a single vote
will not hold much political weight in
an election is common knowledge for
any experienced voter.
"Voters aren't stupid, but they're
busy and they're selfish," Latham concedes cheerfully. "I'm selfish, too."
Because there's such a low probability that your efforts to inform yourself
and vote will bring about the outcome
you want, Latham says the drive to get
up off your butt is pretty minimal.
"We vote together, our community
votes together, so no [individual] voter
has the incentive to spend time or
money voting for someone," Latham
says against our current political system.
With these issues in mind, the idea
of giving media a financial incentive to
improve their elections coverage
seems pretty sound—but then, couldn't
the issue of voter misinformation as
well as the disproportionate influence
of individual effort versus collective
returns be easily argued against any
electoral process, including one to fund
media coverage?
The lab rats
VFM was not originally created to fix
voter apathy in student elections.
Latham first came upon the idea in
the 80s while trying to address shareholder misinformation within corporations and only later decided it could
also be applicable to public elections.
Because the idea caught the eye
of Pattillo, whose AMS elections
platform last year emphasised the
need to increase student understanding of campus politics, UBC's undergraduate community ended up being
VFM's first real guinea pig.
Latham has no jurisdiction over the
process whatsoever. He ponied up the
dough (a total of $8000 for cash prizes,
split eight ways) and gets to reap
the benefits of documenting and
perhaps publishing the outcome. The
AMS, on the other hand, has been
addressing and re-addressing whether
to do this and how to do it fairly since
last summer.
Certain changes have been made to
the process, in all likelihood for the better. Latham, ever the optimist, was
completely supportive of allowing AMS
elections candidates to also run in VFM
elections, an idea that was canned by
the AMS for fear of creating a loophole
through which campaigners could get
around spending limits and turn what
should be critical elections coverage
into a giant political endorsement campaign. Still, no set limits could explicitly be made against anyone outside of
the candidates' list, and so current and
past AMS, BoG and Senate reps are free
to enter the competition.
Debates also raged about charging
parties a registration fee to enter the
competition. Latham wanted to charge
$200, which the AMS cut in half. The
fee, however, is still a contentious
But aside from these small adjustments to policy, nothing else has really
been changed, nor has anything else
really been planned for. According to
Pattillo, the AMS has "determined after
careful deliberation that the potential
benefits far outweigh the potential dangers." But very little deliberation has
been done in the past six months to
make deterrent policies against people
taking advantage of the system, to
define any explicit quantitative measure of project success or failure, or,
most notably, to do any real advance
promotion of the VFM project to the
student population.
Though registration for the VFM
competition has been open since
November 2 7, VFM administrator
Tiffany Glover was only hired to oversee the project in December. Actual
promotion of the project didn't really
start until a few weeks ago, though the
deadline for registration is today.
Glover is technically in charge of the
whole VFM election, but in contrast to
her staunch endorsement of the project, her reasoning for why she thinks
VFM will increase voter turnout is, in a
word, inconsistent. She does not know
whether there will be any pitfalls to
look out for, nor does she have concerns about people having unfair
"One of the criticisms
-Ian Pattillo
AMS VP External
VFM Committee Chair
While she says part of the reason
students don't care about AMS elections is because they aren't aware of
AMS issues and how they affect students, she also defended the lack of
promotion of VFM because "political
theory is going to tell us that if you're
doing [promotion] for student politics
for three months, well, after three
months, how many people are going to
be desensitised to it?" She went on further to say, "...you can do as much promotion as you want or as little promotion as you want, but I think sometimes
it really depends on how the students
are reacting at the time."
Birds of a feather
The lack of awareness about this
project has evidently had a serious
effect on the number and spectrum of
candidates that have signed up to compete in the race. While there are eight
cash prizes to be won with 1st place valued at $1500 and 8th place at $500,
only ten participant groups registered,
the last two having signed up this week.
And according to VFM candidate and
law student Tim Louman-Gardiner, the
current pool of participants is laden
with people who have the inside scoop
on VFM and AMS issues to begin with.
Louman-Gardiner claims that every
person on the VFM council committee,
aside from Ian Patillo, is either running the VFM, running in the VFM race,
or running in the elections. However,
Patillo states that VFM committee
member Stephen Klein is the exception
to this rule. (Klein is a regular contributor and volunteer at VFM candidate
paper the Knoll, though his explicit participation in the VFM race has not been
clarified.) Louman-Gardiner, though
not currently on any council, was a BoG
representative last year, while his VFM
partner, Gina Eom, has been on the
AMS Senate since 2004.
Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS)
Councillor Ryan Corbett, who has been
highly critical of the VFM project from
the beginning, put the administrative
incest bluntly: These VFM participants
are the same people who proposed and
pushed for the approval of project. Now
with these VFM candidates covering
the AMS elections, the flow of potential
bias and influence is free to spread
even further.
This absurdly intimate cabal of VFM
participants and facilitators highlights
Corbett's original objection to our student version of VFM. "I think it's very
peculiar that the AMS is paying AMS
directors to influence the outcome of
their election—that's what they're
doing," he says. Technically, the money
this time around is coming from
Latham, but Corbett stresses that he
would never endorse VFM, or at least
this version of it, to cover AMS elections if the prize money was coming
out of students' pockets. Louman-
Gardiner is entirely in agreement with
Even AMS presidential and BoG candidate Jeff Friedrich, who as current VP
Academic stands to benefit substantially from the potentially back-scratching
set-up of the VFM project, says he was
originally a "VFM cynic" and still worries about the possibility of people
using the project as a means to campaign for themselves and get around
the standard spending limit for AMS
election campaigns.
He cites a hypothetical example of
how this might happen: Suppose someone becomes president of the Science
Undergraduate Society (SUS), which
happens to be in charge of funding and
organising the 432, a campus publication. Should they decide to run for AMS
the following year, there is technically
nothing stopping them from funneling
money into the publication, making
close ties with everyone on staff, gaining their endorsement, and then naturally having the 432 back their campaign during the elections. It's definitely a concern, he admits.
Having said that, Friedrich also says
that AMS elections have never been
under such intense scrutiny before, as
far as he can remember. During the
presidential debates he was almost
cowed by the cameras and microphones in his face. So even if VFM
doesn't directly increase voter turnout,
it has already had an effect on the
dynamic of the AMS elections, which
may improve the scrutiny of the candidates among the electorate even if it
doesn't affect the actual number of
ballots cast. He says, in agreement
with Ian Pattillo, that regardless of
the eventual voter turnout, VFM is
having a positive effect on the extent of
media coverage of our student government already. Both AMS reps believe
that past coverage of AMS issues
through its watchdog, the Ubyssey, has
been inadequate.
The real world
Whether or not people are going to
abuse the system and whether or not
they'll be able to get away with it is the
big question here. Certainly, with such
loose legislation barely constraining
the project, someone could always try
to corrupt the system. But what Latham
is banking on, as well as the AMS, is
that the voters will keep things in
UBC political science professor Fred
Cutler thinks the whole project is a very
interesting exploration of the democratic process, though he says the
assumptions underlying it are perhaps
a bit optimistic in general and naive
with respect to student politics specifically. In terms of its success, he has his
He acknowledges that a media election, in principle, could be just as vulnerable to sensationalism, name recognition, financial dominance and general apathy as any regular political election would be, and that voter apathy is
often strongly correlated to the perception that the outcome doesn't matter.
"We know that one of the reasons
people don't turn out to vote is that
they can't see any difference between
the candidates or parties on offer," he
wrote in an email. "This is particularly
acute in the case of AMS elections.
There's almost nothing to go on. If the
traditional media haven't been providing information to differentiate the
candidates and the VFM media do a
more appealing, more efficient job of
this, then we might expect a bit more
But what about outside of the AMS?
What about in the real world?
Mary Lynne Young is an assistant
professor at UBC's School of
Journalism and a past national business columnist for the Globe and Mail.
She sees the VFM project not necessarily as a sure thing, but as something
new popping up when something new
is needed.
-Ryan Corbett
AUS Councillor
"What I see is that the academic literature suggests is that the current system is flawed," she says. "You've got
private media, owned by large corporations, you've got public corporations
such as the CBC and you've got independent media, such as the Tyee...Each
of the media have their strengths and
weaknesses in terms of if people
believe that there's corporate bias,
reporter bias, or bias according to the
actual economics of generating the
news content.
"I think the Voter Funded Media
contest has flaws; I think it also offers a
new model that's worth exploring.
If we create enough participants or
new kinds of participants who may not
be able to operate...or have the incentive to operate in the old system,
will that actually increase the quality of
public discourse and...increase voter
Young doesn't know, but she is
Vancouver Sun reporter Jonathan
Fowlie surmises that it's possible many
people don't need extra incentive to
express their political views or create
their own political media in the real
world market. What with the advent
and accessibility of web journalism,
blogs and YouTube, people are already
expressing their views, due to the
increased accessibility of the medium
itself. In terms of financial incentives,
he can see how over time they might
ease the general burden of having to
finance yourself by getting ads and support, but whether or not this would be
enough of a driving force to make more
people engage in the political media,
he's not really sure.
The politics of Sim City
Critics of VFM like Corbett think that
the real problem behind voter apathy at
UBC has little to do with the media coverage of student elections. The problem
is that ultimately, the elections are
inevitably boring, relatively superficial
and not all that relevant to immediate
student concerns.
"My biggest issue with this is that it
confuses the root issue both here and
[in terms of] the broader scheme. It
seems to [be thought] that disengagement...stems from some sort of
absence of information. I don't think
that's the problem. I think it's a disinterest in the information that's out
He concedes that he's not all that
concerned how this project would fare
in the real world, but one major wrong
move with regards to the application of
VFM here is that it's being used to
cover the elections, which, at their
fundamental core are not formatted
to examine political issues at length.
Louman-Gardiner, in agreement,
"Kim Campbell once got in a lot of
trouble for saying, 'elections are not
the time to be talking about
issues'...but she's right! It's not!"
After having spent several years in
one way or another affiliated with UBC
student politics, both Corbett and
Louman-Gardiner think the only time
where an explosion of media coverage
of student politics is needed is when a
pressing controversy requiring speedy
student consultation is needed, like
say, in a referendum. In that instance,
the issues are what's at stake, not the
election platforms of largely inexperienced candidates.
Apathy schmapathy...?
All these different perspectives on
VFM have brought new insight on the
state of student politics at UBC.   The
general public may stare aghast at the
lack of activism apparently indicated
by our low voter turnout, and our AMS
officials may tell us that the key to
increasing student engagement on
campus is an increase of information.   But  with   a   70   per   cent
turnover in
our  student government every
year  and  a  constant influx  of
freshmen and outflux of graduates, is it possible that most students don't care and don't vote
carefully when it comes to the
AMS because when it comes
to the bureaucracy of student
government,    they   aren't
around long enough to figure   out the   system  and
make significant changes
to it?
isn't afraid to say that
one  of the  problems
between  the  general
public and the AMS is
that the AMS is misrepresented    as    a
student body whose
main purpose is to
lobby on behalf of
student activism.
That's one of its
purposes,    but
still  "a  lot  of
what the AMS
does   is   pro-
f o u n d 1 y
administrative and very
little of it is political."
There's nothing wrong with
that. Someone needs to balance the books and handle
the red tape of student fees
and it's great that students
are getting involved to do
it. However, there's a very
strong    possibility   that
Latham's project, implemented   in   a   student
community,   may   not
generate  the  kind  of
outcome    or   insight
he's  looking  for.   It
may  just   highlight
the fact that when it
comes   to   student
politics,   elections
may get the most
coverage   in  the
media, but ironically   they're
probably   the
last place people       should
look     when
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»w Opinion/Editorial
Friday, 19 January, 2007   THE UBYSSEY
Joking about incest isn't funny...
Except if it's AMS incest
VFM, how insulation causes incest
Dear Alma Mater Society,
Baby. Darling. Lover. Do we not
satisfy you any more? Why have
you been getting in bed with
other publications? You used to
think we could "cover" you. You
never told us we "dropped the
ball before!"
Just because of this new
man, that Mark Latham and his
Voter Funded Media, you think
you can just cast us aside like a
cheap whore. You can keep
your lousy $8,000!
It's been 11 years since
our...split And we've neglected
each other. But we've always
made up. Baby, it's time to talk.
Taking the initiative to give
VFM a trial run when opportunity came a-knockin' was a
savvy move. Latham's own
logic for its success aside, in
our insulated community, campus media has been pretty unilateral so an increase in media
competition is a great thing.
That's why we agreed to help
participants by covering their
registration fees and keeping
out of it for this test run (so that
name recognition doesn't skew
the competition.)
But at the same time, there was
no need to rush things.
VFM Founder Mark Latham
contributed $8,000 of his own
money to see his project go
through at UBC, and would have
actually preferred that the AMS
wait until next year to try it out.
This would have allowed plenty of
time for consultation, promotion
and over the course of the year, a
balance of focus between worrying about the VFM project and discussing other issues. It's understandable that you succumbed to
the perpetual pressure to make
the impact of the AMS on student
lives more apparent, especially
considering that's what a key few
of you promised to do in your original AMS elections campaigns.
But by rushing this project to the
public sphere you compromised
the potential impact VFM could
have had on the UBC community.
The AMS pushed ahead to
serve their own interests of
looking accountable when they
decided to get this going right
away. Now Latham's original
experimental objective—to see
if the aggressive voter-targeted
media competition will reward
best coverage—might not be
tested under the appropriate
circumstances for it to be properly evaluated. But our fingers
are crossed.
Because of low student interest
due to poor promotion, you put
yourselves in the uncomfortable
position of having to be even more
incestuous with regards to the
administration of this contest,
which the good reps among you
must be getting really sick of
doing. Also, you increased the
chance that this endeavour will
fail and be abandoned in the
future due to lack of interest
because competitive effort and
awareness is low.
We've heard the AMS sentiment that we 'dropped the ball'
on AMS issue coverage this
year. Whether or not this is
true, it's pretty apparent and
especially ironic that you yourselves don't see the value
of increasing communication
about projects designed to
increase communication (like
Fred Cutler himself, who you
consulted on VFM, said that
although it's an interesting
endeavour, he thinks that when
it comes to elections, the public
could have been better served by
spending the cash on an in-your-
face ad campaign that says,
"We spend ten million of your
money! VOTE!"
But you're right: people probably still won't vote if they have no
clue what to base their vote on.
So, when it's warranted, we'll
keep our eye out and do our part
to get things across (though, to be
frank, not that many people read
our paper, either.) But if you really want to engage some scrutiny
from media outlets, and you want
to keep this VFM puppy going,
next time around make it revolve
around year-round coverage, or
coverage of a given campus
issue. Hell, who knows, maybe
we'll get involved.
We must admit, one good
thing about this is not that it
will necessarily increase voter
turnout, or even that it will ensure
the election of the most qualified
candidates, but, perhaps these
media participants, who presumably understand the idea of getting the word out, will be encouraged to get further involved in the
AMS. Their penchant for media
communication could be a valuable addition to your flock. @
What Voter Funded Media outlet do you use to get your AMS elections news?
—Brian Joe
—Andre Perret
Art history, 3
'Whatyou mean
"1 don't know
by VFM?"
anything that's
going on with the
—Shauna Wootton
Arts, 2
—Thomas Leung
Psychology, 3
"Don't read any."
-Emily Cheung
—Coordinated by Samantha Jung and Oker Chen
Editorial off-track
When UBC's own student newspaper
affirms that "the only reasonable choice to
make [in the upcoming AMS elections] is to
make none at all," (Ubyssey "Cheaper beer,
more fun, less government, and stylish
white pants" [Jan. 16]) I am led to point the
finger of blame squarely on the body
responsible for keeping students informed
and interested in campus life: the Ubyssey
itself. It seems unconscionable that the
Ubyssey should advocate non-participation
in this or any election. One could imagine
that similar treatment of a provincial or federal election by a professional newspaper
would be deemed not as an exercise in journalism, but as a farce. It is not "reasonable"
not to vote; it is lazy, cowardly, and anti-
intellectual and by figuring non-participation as the "reasonable" direction for students to take in the upcoming AMS elections, the Ubyssey should be accused of
being all three. Or perhaps our student journalists are too busy with their upcoming
"FUNdraiser!" at the Caprice nightclub to
give a fair treatment of the candidates?
Surely our intrepid newsmakers are not
advocating non-participation in this event
as well.
—Samantha Rapoport is a
fourth-year English student
University partly to blame
Your coverage of the Alma Mater Society
(AMS) on Jan. 16 (Ubyssey "Cheaper beer,
more fun, less government, and stylish
white pants") focused heavily on the idea
that the AMS fails to communicate with students. Yes, it does. But you can't just blame
the system. Much of the blame has to fall on
the University, for refusing to allow the AMS
to use the e-mail addresses of its members.
For years, the AMS has been asking to get the
e-mail addresses of its members, and the
University refuses. They claim privacy rules
prohibit it, yet the Alumni Association (an
independently constituted society, like the
AMS - they're not part of the University) has
an agreement that allows them to get personal info of students and graduates.
In reality, I suspect the University has
selfish reasons to keep such a powerful bargaining chip. But it's in the interests of the
University to have an engaged student population. The more affinity students have with
its University and associated enterprises,
the better for all in the long term. Believe it
or not, a strong AMS makes a strong UBC.
We're the largest student society in the
country, a commuter campus with very decentralised affinities. E-mail is the only practical way to reach its constituents and, without the power to do so, the AMS can't take all
the blame for failing to reach students. The
University is at fault, too.
—Tim Louman-Gardiner is a
Third-Year Law Student.
Look for our annua
AMS supplement
coming to you this
However, if you want
to get involved with
the paper on election
coverage, come to
news meetings on
Tuesdays at 12:30.
ews(a)u byssey. bc.ca THE UBYSSEY   Friday, 19 January, 2007
Golden Flower curses its narrative
now playing
by Kian Mintz-Woo
From the operatic opening score
to the final scenes, this film drips
with artistic extravagance, except
where it matters most—in the storytelling. The Curse of the Golden
Flower is set in the era of the opulent Tang Dynasty, and Zhang
Yimou takes every opportunity to
remind us of the period's excesses. Pillars are multicolored with
swirling greens, yellows and reds,
not unlike his Jet Li vehicle Hero.
The lights and carpets have the
intensity of tye-dye and against
these bright exteriors Zhang portrays the stifled inner life of the
royal family.
The matriarch is played by
Gong Li and this family differs
from many of those in Zhang's
lengthy filmography. Zhang has
directed Gong in such masterpieces as Huozhe and Raise the
Red Lantern and the differences in
theme and tone between this
movie and their earlier collaborations are apparent. Huozhe was
about a family living in the midst
of intense political landscapes,
helplessly caught in the rapidly
changing Communist country.
They banded together in the face
of their difficulties and at times
made the audience feel as though
they were neglected background
In The Curse of the Golden
Flower, the royal family controls
everything, including—at times-
each other. The parents use the
young princes in their individual
bids for power. And there is no
moment where you are not
intensely aware you are watching a
movie. The plot revolves around
the medicine that the emperor
(Chow Yun Fat) sends daily for his
wife, and the results of his decision
to slowly poison the remedies with
a Persian herb. Mixed in are familial revelations, incest, spies and
soap opera on a grand scale.
There are many problems with
the story's integrity. One question
that is never answered is why
would a spy sneak around in all
black against palace walls that are
the colour of Jello? The masterful
cast is unable to do much with
characters whose primary modes
run the gamut from revenge to
betrayal, although Chow and Gong
are particularly adept at portraying
marital contempt. Jay Chou delivers passionately as the crow prince
Jai. The problem is that instead of
developing the characters, Zhang
prefers to show the careful and
elaborate ceremonies of court and
servant life.
That is the difficulty with this
film. The costumes are spectacular
(and have been nominated for
numerous awards.) The battle scenes
are epic, though strangely flat
because the CGI fails to mesh completely. The symbolism, imagery and
melodrama are all very powerful,
but the audience does not connect
with the characters. As a result, there
is no emotion when the real trouble
begins. The audience is left trying to
guess what counter-plan each family
member is plotting next. @
Charged Looking Good a far out conclusion
byKeith Mail lard
Brindle and Glass
By Chelsea Thcriault
Who is John Dupre? Simply put, he
is a young man from Virginia and
the protagonist of Keith Maillard's
four-volume novel Difficulty at the
Beginning. Yet after three books,
John (like many young adults)
can't even answer this question
for himself.
This is where Looking Good fits
in as the final chapter of this com-
ing-of-age saga, in which John
Dupre's character comes to prominence amidst unrelenting political
chaos and violence. As his burgeoning sense of self chases away
his personal demons, John's relief
is expressed in an enviable
moment of clarity: "That burden
he'd carried all of his life-he hadn't known how heavy it was until
he put it down."
We first meet John in Running,
which comprises his high school
days in Virginia in the late 1950s.
Looking Good finds him caught up in
Boston's political underground a
decade later, during the tumultuous
year of 1969; this is "where the revolutionary moment spills out of its
Maillard's deft prose easily trans-
'Wmm mm*
Part of Lower Mainland-wide
Student Week Against War + Occupation
org'd by Mobilization Against War +
ports the reader to this infamous era
in American history, and Looking
Good's pages seethe with the tension
they contain. The cover image of a
vehicle in flames foreshadows the
carnage within, which unfortunately
extends beyond inanimate objects to
the hearts and souls of its characters
and their society.
While students at Harvard
protest against their fickle government and battle "the pigs," John
experiences first love and loss at the
hands of Pam, a fellow revolutionary
who shares his passion for writing
political editorials. Pam is a perfect
example of the way Maillard's characters keep the reader engaged
through their abolishment of predictable "hippie" stereotypes; she is
a radical feminist struggling with
anorexia, who "didn't look as bad as
a Dachau victim-not yet."
Maillard's refreshing rejection of
typical counter-cultural personae
extends to the rest of John's peers,
from earthy Terry who is also a witch,
to groovy Cass with a weakness for
heroin, and the young "war-crazed
Vietnam vet" Tom Parker who tries to
keep sane by smoking and dealing
plenty of marijuana.
However, Maillard doesn't hold
back from sprinkling a plethora of
formulaic '60's slang amongst
Looking Good's dialogue, which is
an aspect of the novel that is particularly off-putting. It's hard to take
seriously a character who says,
"Transcend your paranoia, man."
Although Maillard accounts for this
in his "Author's Afterword": ("Many
of my characters hold opinions that
were typical of the late 1960s; I have
tried to express their ideas in language that they themselves would
have used.") readers should beware
that after 434 pages you might find
yourself expressing your opinions
with phrases like "Far out, man."
Overall, Keith Maillard's Looking
Good is a pleasure to read, and it is
saddening to bid farewell to John
Dupre after we have seen him come
so far. The finale to his saga pulsates
with sex, drugs, and political passion,
and takes its readers to a time when
the American "melting pot" of races
and ideologies was about to boil over.
In the words of the ex-GI Tom Parker,
"If you weren't there at the time, the
scene probably sounds crazy, like
INSANE, and guess what? It was." @
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TECHNOLOGY CHANGES EVERYTHING Muslim prayer room vandalised
Witnesses saw a person leaving the room with a hood pulled over their head
VP Academic
candidates get
fired up
'Nobody did a really
great job/says Friedrich
by Katie Fitzpatrick
The Alma Mater Society's (AMS)
VP Academic debate on Tuesday
may have been heated, but in the
end it lacked any real substance
and left current VP Academic Jeff
Friedrich "unhappy."
Following the short debate
between candidates (Jerry) Fan Fan,
Brendon Goodmurphy and Bruce
Krayerhoff, Friedrich, an AMS presidential candidate would not comment on individual candidates
specifically but noted "nobody did a
really great job."
This feeling was reflected by an
audience member who, during
question period, referred to the
candidate's previous proposals
as "non-specific [and] opinion
based." When she proceeded to
ask the candidates what they
would do as VP Academic, each
gave a very different answer.
"Being an outsider, I'm not sure
what I could do as of this point,"
said Fan Fan, "but I'm willing to
accept any suggestions you have."
Goodmurphy used the opportunity to reiterate a few points of his
platform. "It's about student housing, student daycare...saving the
UBC farm," he said.
Krayerhoff offered the most specific response, describing his
proposal for a citizens assembly,
meant to address the much debated issue of student political apathy.
He said that although "consultation
processes have been held in the
past, less than one per cent of students attended." His assembly
would be made up of a "randomly
selected group of students who
would be informed and would help
the AMS make decisions."
On the question of student
housing, Fan Fan described a program similar to the one currently
being used at the University of
Cape Town.
"We cannot build more buildings," he said, "It's controversial.
It's costly and it's slow. In my
vision I see us negotiating a plan
with local landlords who are wiling
to rent out their [property]." Fan
Fan went on to describe this plan as
a more "immediate solution to the
housing problem."
Krayerhoff and Goodmurphy both
opposed the notion, suggesting that
more buildings may be in order, but
that any construction should be done
in a sustainable fashion.
"I don't want to see any buildings going up either, as an environmentalist," said Goodmurphy, "but
at the end of the day sometimes
housing issues can prevent people
from accessing higher education."
Krayerhoff added that any new
student housing should be "compact and [of] high-density."
Perhaps the highlight of the
evening came from an unlikely
audience question. When asked if
he would prefer to drink a beer at
the Gallery or at Mahoney's,
Krayerhoff responded that he didn't drink. Goodmurphy went with
the Gallery "because it is an AMS
funded location."
Fan Fan responded with his
personal preference: "There is
nothing better than drinking on
your bed." @
Friday, 19 January, 2007   THE UBYSSEY
MUSALLA: Hesham Alsalman and MSA members conduct afternoon prayer in the recently-vandalised prayer room, oker chen photo
by Jesse Ferreras
A space designated for prayer by
UBC's Muslim community was
vandalised for the second time
since October.
A press release from the Muslim
Students' Association (MSA) stated
that an unidentified, foul-smelling
brown stain was found in the middle
of the room at approximately 4pm
last Friday by regular users of the
Musalla (Muslim prayer room) in
Brock Hall Annex.
MSA President Hesham Alsalman
said that a regular user of the room
witnessed an individual leaving
hastily with a hood pulled over their
head. The witness noticed that the
individual had their shoes on, which
Alsalman said was unusual because
it is custom to remove one's shoes
while in the Musalla.
"These two incidents are the
first two incidents I have ever
heard happening at UBC for a
Muslim," he said. "This room has
been given to Muslims almost two
years ago. We asked [the University
administration] for it and they gave
us this room and it's actually
groundbreaking for us."
An earlier incident occurred on
October 2, 2006 when a similar
stain was found in the Musalla.
The RCMP concluded at the time
that it was an accident. The MSA
agreed because symbolic furniture in the room, such as a large
Quran, remained untouched.
"We didn't believe ourselves, the
MSA executives, that this is a hate
crime until it happened again," said
Alsalman. When asked whether or
not he felt the incident was a hate
crime, he said, "Most likely, yes.
Why did it happen twice?"
The Musalla was originally established in its current Brock Hall
Annex location through the Equity
Ambassador program after existing
as a makeshift space in Main Library.
The University detachment of the
RCMP was contacted about the incident on Saturday, Alsalman said, but
there was no record of the incident at
the office itself. Constable Keith
Simpson was the RCMP contact, but
was off-duty at press time and could
not be reached.
"If something happened at the
Muslim prayer room, there's been
no complaint about it," said Staff
Sergeant Kevin Kenna. "We
checked on the system, the guys
that read the files, no one recalls
anything like that."
VP Students Brian Sullivan
described the incident as a sick
expression of displeasure.
"There was an incident in October
that was [dealt] with to everyone's
satisfaction at the time, though it
was, even then, quite troubling," he
said, "but now with a second incident, things continue to change."
Sullivan said that the MSA has
been engaged in discussions to
improve security around the
Musalla, particularly over a "more
potent locking mechanism."
The Musalla has been temporarily relocated to another room in
Brock Hall until the carpets can be
Janet Mee, director of the Access
and Diversity office, booked the new
prayer room for the MSA and helped
in cleanup. She has also been
involved in discussions to improve
its security.
"Part of what we're doing is trying
to ensure that students who are
impacted by the vandalism, that their
lives are not disrupted," she said.
"Their first choice is a combination
lock, something that still allows for
users to come and go freely, but provides a level of security that we
haven't had up until now."
Despite the incidents, Alsalman
said it is the MSA's role to educate
UBC students about Islam.
"We are trying to combat, probably the bad image that you can see all
the time...in the media about Islam
and Muslims," he said. "We are trying to educate people that we are people who are hardworking, do our jobs
and blend [into] the community like
everyone else." @
Flushing away those toilet troubles
Replacing dual-flush toilets will cost the University up to $140,000
by Brandon Adams
Environmentally friendly toilets
found in many newer buildings are
being replaced after problems
caused frequent flooding.
The replacement of 100 to 140
low water consumption, dual-flush
style toilets used in newer buildings on campus will be completed
by the end of the month, explained
UBC Properties Trust Consultant
Greg Hashimoto.
Dual-flush toilets are designed
with two different flush settings: a
lower level setting for liquid waste
that uses about two to three litres of
water, and a second for solid waste
that uses approximately six litres.
The problems with the dual-
flush toilets arose because toilet
users used the wrong flush levels,
explained Hashimoto.
"We were getting constant backup
problems and flooding."
The problems have affected a
number of newer buildings, said
Hashimoto, including the Life
Sciences Building, the Kaiser
Building and the Michael Smith
Hashimoto also said that the
cause of many of the clogs came
from individuals who used and
flushed paper towel that was used
as a toilet seat cover.
"The problem with the [dual-flush
toilets] is that it's an educational
issue," said Hashimoto. "We're trying
to educate 15,000 people every year
to use these toilets properly and...it
just didn't work."
"[Plant Operations personnel]
were in those buildings every day,
often multiple times a day, dealing
with the plugged toilets situation,"
said Director of Plant Operations
John Metras, "it was a real burden on
our operation."
Hashimoto said the dual-flush toilets are being replaced with six litre
per flush toilets.
John Redmond, vice-president of
UBC Properties Trust, said that the
toilet replacements would cost
between $100,000 and $140,000.
"The funds for the replacement
would be taken out of the operational
budget," explained Redmond, saying
that the funds would be made up
from the savings due to decreased
calls for toilet repair.
The used dual-flush toilets, said
Redmond, will be utilised in residen-
tal developments on campus where
users will be aware of the different
flush levels of the toilets.
"We did an analysis of how much
time we were spending on unplugging toilets," explained Hashimoto,
"We looked at the financial cost of it
and...we felt that it would be best if
we changed them out to a regular
type toilet."
Jorge Marques, acting director of
the UBC Sustainability Office, said
the difference in water consumption
between the dual-flush toilets and the
new toilets would be minimal. @


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