2017 in review

Here’s what happened, in case you missed it

CHRISTINE BEYLEVELDT & ANNALISSE CROSSWELL

Our top stories from the year covered new developments in Capilano University’s student housing, the sentencing of the library arsonist and a CSU campaign against sexual violence and misconduct following a new school policy.

1. New rapid transit came under consideration for the North Shore

SeaBus services between North Vancouver and the downtown core increased to every 15 minutes until 9 p.m. every day starting on May 19, but Darrell Mussatto, mayor of the City of North Vancouver, never believed it was enough to end residents’ traffic woes. In March, he proposed the City consider a SkyTrain line under the Burrard Inlet, stretching from Waterfront Station to Lonsdale Quay, rather than another bridge that he said would only encourage congestion in the long term and was also a less sustainable option. He sees a SkyTrain between North Vancouver and downtown as a game changer for the North Shore communities.

2. CapU’s Board of Governors’ surprising connection to the BC Liberal Party

One of the University’s two governing bodies, the Board of Governors, is made up of 15 sitting members, eight of whom were appointed on the recommendation of Minister of Advanced Education Andrew Wilkinson and former Premier Christy Clark. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver and former UBC President Arvin Gupta have both called for the Liberals to relinquish their hold on university bodies because the board can’t act in the institution’s best interests according to the University Act.

3. CapU arsonist received two years of house arrest

Shane Nendick was sentenced in August to two years of house arrest for three break-ins, multiple counts of mischief, theft and arson at CapU that he committed over the winter break of 2014-15. His lawyer made a case for low intellectual and cognitive abilities, which he pleaded required a lesser sentence. This was also supported by psychological assessments. Judge William Rodgers made his ruling saying that Nendick would be unlikely to receive needed counselling if he were in a penitentiary.

4. A program designed specifically for First Nations students was postponed another year

Senate approved an engineering diploma and University One (U1) program designed specifically for First Nations students in March. The U1 program encompasses writing, critical reading and math. It also includes courses on critical reflection, quantitative reasoning and indigenous content, which was set to start taking students in Fall 2017. Instead, U1 was postponed and will now be offered at the start of the Fall 2018 semester because the University didn’t approve the course until mid-July, which the CSU’s First Nations Student Liaison Geronimo Alec explained made band funding unattainable and affected enrolment.

Photo by Smiely Khurana
5. After 10 years of planning, an off-campus residence opened

CapU opened its first off-campus student housing this past fall semester on 2420 Dollartown Hwy. It is, however, a short-term solution, which the University hopes will be a step towards on-campus housing that was not previously possible under the BC Liberal government. The NDP have since revoked a ruling stating that post-secondary institutions may not take on debt, which would be necessary in order to move forward on the building project. Since students moved in, a few issues have arisen with CapU Residence. The key issues being dining hall hours that have forced some of the students living at the residence who also attend late classes on the main campus to forego meals, as well as the lack of amenities, particularly in the lounges.

6. The CSU launched a campaign targeting sexual violence and misconduct

The CSU intended to run a sexual violence and misconduct campaign, which was one of their biggest announcements in the 2017 Fall semester. The campaign would follow in the steps of a University of Victoria Students’ Society (UVSS) campaign called “Let’s Get Consensual”. The initiative, which was set to focus on the idea of consent being active and consistently maintained between people, came not long after the University approved a sexual violence and misconduct policy in May after consultation with students.

9. CapU’s brand story won a Coup de Coeur award

President Paul Dangerfield unveiled CapU’s new brand, a crest emblematic of Coast Salish art, in the Birch Cafeteria on Nov. 24, 2016, just in time for a three-month Lower Mainland advertising campaign to draw new students to the University. Over the summer, CapU received two awards from the University and College Designers Association (UCDA) and in October, the Canadian Association of Communicators in Education (CACE) presented Director of Communications and Marketing Victoria Miles with a Coup de Coeur Award for the brand story.

7. The new NDP Government repealed tuition on education upgrading courses

Before NDP leader John Horgan was sworn in as Premier on Sept. 8, he repealed tuition fees on education upgrading courses, Adult Basic Education (ABE) and English for Academic Purposes (EAP) at CapU, the result being an immediate increase in enrollment. Previously, students who hadn’t completed their full high school education, commonly high school math courses, could enroll in education upgrading courses for a maximum of $1,600 in tuition fees, which prevented many from completing their secondary education. As for EAP, former instructor Christian Steckler left behind a $20,000 endowment fund to help domestic students through the program, and was pleasantly surprised to learn that the cost of education would no longer be a barrier to students. However, he did note that domestic students would still be passed up in favour of international students whose high tuition fees funded the program.

8. Development of on-campus housing began with a public consultation

Less than a month after CapU’s off-campus residence at 2420 Dollarton Hwy opened to over 100 students, Woodbridge Northwest stepped forward with a proposal to construct a residence building that could house 60 students on the edge of campus property where the Purcell Woods complex stands today. Residents agreed to sell their property after being quoted up to $100,000 per unit to cover structural damages. The proposal for the new lot also includes a six-floor condominium tower and 10 townhomes, eight of which can be turned into lock-off units to free up more rental space for students. After a public hearing on Nov. 21, the North Vancouver Municipal Hall allowed two bylaws to be amended in order for Woodbridge to proceed with construction, which could begin as early as the next Fall semester.

Photograph c/o Tae Hoon Kim
10. Transportation caused untold grief for commuting students

Mayor Gregor Robertson’s 10-year vision will provide better transit services across the Lower Mainland, although the North Shore receives few improvements under this plan. Students living at CapU’s off-campus residence however, didn’t benefit. Several students filed complaints through the CSU about 212 buses skipping their stop despite not being full. TransLink later said that they had attended to the problem and Vice President External Noah Berson and CSU organizer Patrick Meehan visited the residence to survey the situation and reported no pass-ups occurring during their brief visit, yet students continued to note the problem. Berson continually stressed that with the potential for another 150 students staying at the residence during the spring, it was crucial that there be adequate transit.

11. Capilano Cleaners won the right to unionize and students continue their fight for a living wage for all campus workers

Contracted cleaners at Capilano University employed by Best Service Pros won the right to join Service Employees International Union (SEIU Local 2) in June after a lengthy battle with their employer. The 29 cleaners earn between $11.50 and $12 per hour with no benefits, forcing many of them to find second and sometimes third jobs in order to get by. An open letter signed by stakeholders circulated campus in the Fall semester and students signed a petition calling for a living wage to be implemented campus-wide, which would affect not just contracted workers but all workers. In November, President Paul Dangerfield announced that the University would consider including a living wage in the 2030 campus master plan, which is currently being drafted.

12. New Mental Health clinic opened in North Vancouver

Foundry opened its doors in September to North Vancouver youth. The North Shore’s newest mental health clinic on Lower Lonsdale provides free counseling services and peer support for 12-24-year-olds – a crucial service, seeing as an estimated one in seven youth living in BC will suffer some form of a mental health issue.

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