The UBCSUO is attempting to engage students in two new September initiatives aimed at addressing the issues surrounding housing and sexual assault on campus.
Teaming up with the Alliance of BC Students’ “Where’s the Housing?” campaign, the UBCSUO is hoping to help tackle a province-wide housing crisis whilst improving campus culture and the student university experience.
Centrally, the housing campaign is seeking to get the BC government to allow post- secondary institutions to take on debt in order to build on campus student housing. Ac- cording to the campaign, if the BC government were to subsidize just 10% of the build-ing costs over the next 10 years, then universities would have access to roughly $180 million dollars to put towards the construction of over 21,000 new residence spaces.
Not only would the subsidy significantly ease the burden on the housing market and transportation systems, it would also save students valuable time and money whilst making up for a decade in which there has been an absence of residence building construction.
According to Kimberly Rutledge, the UBCSUO’s VP External, as a student and a renter this is a campaign that hits close to home. “The cost of living in Kelowna seems to be getting higher and higher every day and with a vacancy rate of 0.7%, we’re leaving students with nowhere to go,” said Rutledge.
“The government doesn’t allow post secondary institutions to take on debt in order to build housing, even though residence buildings are self-financing. We took the task an extra step further and we want the government to help fund the construction. It’s a big ask, but with a provincial election coming up this year, I don’t think the timing could be better.”
In addition to addressing the issues concerning on campus housing, the UBSUO is also set on tackling sexual assault on campus. The “Our Bodies, Our Voice” sexual assault awareness campaign, spearheaded by Kimberly Rutledge along with the UBCSUO and partners, is a week long initiative aimed at educating students and staff about consent and healthy sexual relationships.
The central goal of the campaign is to tackle rape culture on campus, and in the gen-eral Kelowna community, whilst creating a safe community in which everyone can feel that their bodies and voice are being respected. According to the campaign, it was im- portant to launch this initiative in September as evidence implies that the majority of sexual assaults occur within the first 8 weeks of school. Ultimately, the campaign hopes to make it known to every person both on and off campus that sexual assault is something that affects everyone.
According to Rutledge, running a campaign like this was something she wanted to do long before being elected to office. “For me, educational campaigns like these are the most profound things that I can do as a student leader,” said Rutledge. “Being able to start these hard conversations with students about topics that really matter, is some-thing that I’m so grateful for.”
Students can expect the week- long initiative to be not only educational but also lively and engaging. Rutledge adds, “the initiative will feature lots of events and workshops intended to draw in diverse groups of people, a factor which is key in changing the cul-ture on our campus. This is going to be a great opportunity to foster change on our campus.”
The “Where’s the Housing?” campaign will be running all throughout September and the “Our Bodies, Our Voice” sexual assault campaign will be running from September 19 to September 23. Students interested in finding out more or getting involved are encouraged to contact the UBCSUO for more details.