Sunday, June 25, 2017
Last updated: 2 years ago

Last words: There is no excuse for UBC’s silence

Illustration Aiken Lao / The Ubyssey

Illustration Aiken Lao / The Ubyssey

The university’s failure to communicate is unacceptable

Last week, Buzzfeed called us and asked what it’s like reporting on Guptagate when no one’s talking.

A nightmare, Buzzfeed. A nightmare.

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Sure, it’s tough for any journalist trying to crack open the lid on one of the biggest scandals the multi billion-dollar institution has had in recent memory. But it’s even more frustrating for student journalists who are, obviously, students; we would really like an explanation about what’s going on at the highest level of the institution to which we pay tens of thousands of dollars.

We might be the journalists most eager for information — and we don’t want to put up with the lack of explanation when it’s our job to find the truth. UBC’s job, as a public institution, is to provide it.

As the Faculty Association said in an open letter, even though there were confidentiality agreements, it’s well within the board’s right to change these to allow for more information; this is not an acceptable excuse for silence.

Nor is it acceptable to for UBC PR to periodically stop replying to phone calls.

Nor is it acceptable for PR to say that they didn’t have Lynn Smith’s contact information, when we were able to find it on the UBC directory in seconds.

Nor is it acceptable for John Montalbano to cancel the interview he’s agreed to do with The Ubyssey and for us to be redirected to Angela Redish, who can’t comment on Gupta’s resignation since she wasn’t part of the discussion.

Nor is it acceptable that Montalbano was only brought out of hiding once Jennifer Berdahl shone an unflattering spotlight on him, and when he did speak to the paper he said he wanted to keep all questions about the statement that was released in response — nothing about Gupta.

UBC should be facilitating conversation, not attempting to control it.

Textbook prices are ludicrous

We know, not exactly breaking news.

But what’s more interesting (or infuriating) than the fact that they cost a lot is why they cost a lot. In short: because publishers can price them however the hell they want.

If your prof says you need a specific textbook, you need that textbook, from that publisher. The only publisher that publishes that book. The one with no competition, and no incentive to price their product anywhere near a range that approaches reasonable. Used books, ebooks and rentals are all ways to cut down on costs, but if a prof demands their students buy an updated version of the same textbook every year, there’s nothing you can do about it, lest you risk missing a piece of specific information that finds its way onto a test.

Everyone knows university textbook pricing is a racket. But there’s nothing you can do about it. And as long as greed trumps what’s best for students, we’ll keep getting shafted by those responsible for our education.

  • WhiteRabbit3

    It’s a bit much to call Gupta’s resignation a scandal.
    Gupta resigned without publically citing a reason. The Board accepted his resignation and also didn’t cite a reason, likely at Gupta’s request.
    It appears that Gupta wishes privacy for the reasons behind his resignation. Where’s the scandal?

    • Ergo Proxy

      Gupta signed a non-disclosure agreement, out of either resignation at the fact he can do anything to change the school, or to possibly avoid getting blackmailed himself by having his future jeopardized for wanting to change staff numbers by laying off people. Regardless of who’s fault it is, something needs to be said to clear up the situation so as to not spread misinformation.