Permit me to begin my address to you with a question: What commonality is to be found between UVic’s current ailments of oft-prohibitive international tuition, insufficient student housing, and undervalued sessional lecturers? Aside from that all concern demographics with coincidentally little voice in university governance, surely each is a problem of money. There is admittedly no fresh observation in that many of our fair university’s ills could be solved with a mere allocation of liquid assets. But where others complain of mismanagement and declare that some of our problems might be abated if our establishment were held more accountable, I myself simply perceive an insufficient degree of external investment. Thus, I propose a redoubling of UVic’s attempts to attract corporate interests to the campus, that we may both line our coffers and provide additional shopping experiences to our many prosperous undergrads.
Like many readers, I would have balked at the notion of widespread commercialization on campus when first I arrived here. Surely, after all, a world-class university is foremost a place of learning, where the interests of the students and instructors are to be put before those of money-making ventures? This was of course before I was cured of my ignorance by observing the many campus-based businesses already beloved of everyone. For example, dearest reader, has your gaze not been captured on your every walk through the SUB by the colourful attractions of our very own travel agency? Given that students are famously weighed down by superfluous funds, I imagine that you too have already availed yourself of a few off-semester tropical vacations. For another precedent, one need only look to the CARSA athletics facility. By its creation, UVic’s administration courageously laughed in the face of those more pedestrian universities who are deluded enough to grant access to their fitness centres by payment of athletics fees alone. That one end of the campus is dominated by what amounts generally to a commercial gym fills me with hope for future manifestations of capitalism on our premises. Indeed, our entrepreneurial spirit has already been noticed by the corporate world, as evidenced by the brave emplacement of a Starbucks in the bookstore, against the feeble protests of unenlightened and likely communist-sympathizing students.
Yet we must not too readily laud ourselves, dearest reader, for so much of our university’s potential remains untapped. With the numerous corporate eateries in the SUB as precedent, I see as our logical conclusion the creation of a vast shopping centre at the University of Victoria, to serve the trend-setting needs of residents and visitors alike. It may be claimed that we have not the empty space for such a construction. To this, I suggest the obvious solution of demolishing the MacLaurin Building; a consistent action, as the university government has already dismissed the financial pleas of the music instructors housed therein. In its place, I envision a mall of such scale and with such a dizzying array of retail outlets as to render the plebeian Mayfair or Hillside centres quaint by comparison. If this venture meets expectations, we might even consider expanding with the demolition of the unsightly McPherson Library and its replacement with a water slide and amusement park. This general facility reconstruction carries with it the added benefit that fewer and fewer members of faculty will be required to maintain our remaining programs, thus freeing up still more funds to add to the growing rewards of corporate collaboration. Carrying this line of reasoning still further, we may have reason to suspect that in future, UVic will have no need to pay any teaching salaries or unprofitable upkeep on class buildings at all!
I hope that you will be cheered as I am, dearest reader, at the thought that we students may soon play a role in such a lofty entrepreneurial adventure. Let us each then shelve our trite complaints and our cries for divestment of unsustainable or so-called “irresponsible” practices on the part of our governing bodies. The future of our education is gilded in Starbucks logos and promotions, and I for one applaud it.