the popular one-episode series based on my childhood memories makes a come-back!!

this one was recalled recently, while mildly trying to recall/explain to a friend why I harbour such a strong dislike for the song “greensleeves“.

when I was but a young child, my folks had this then-considered cutting-edge computer game (think gigantic pixels) that was geared towards teaching its audience how to do simple math (adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing) under the guise of protecting a castle from invaders. to make it more challenging, by each level players would have to type in the answer to a math question increasingly¬†quicker and quicker to prevent the invader from breaching the castle wall. if you made it onto the top 10 scoreboard, the song “greensleeves” would play while you were prompted to type in three letters representing your initials to forever enshrine your glorious victory.

I’m not ashamed to say that I thoroughly kicked that game’s butt. of course, being the snotty little kid I was, I thought it would be hilarious to write in dirty words like “ASS” and “SHT” whenever I got a high score; of course the most scandalous one, “FUK” (or “FUC”, I can’t remember which one little-me decided to input that fateful day), was reserved for the very highest score.

it was only after my initial glee had subsided after surveying my childish work that I immediately became fearful of my little butt’s welfare should my mom discover my indiscretions. so subsequently you can imagine that I spent the next while playing feverishly trying to erase all the high scores. however, I will tell you right now that my math is sub-par under stress, and although I managed to clear out most of the records, that elusive high score just could not be beaten. but damn it, I tried. I calculated my little heart out and even though I trained myself to the extent that I was guaranteed to get onto the scoreboard with every effort (and hear that mocking song play every forsaken time), I never made the high score. I hadn’t realized it then, but those were the memories that caused me to forever associate the mournful tune with a victory that just¬†doesn’t quite cut it.

good times.

big news, friends.

yesterday (nov. 25, 2009) Blake Frederick of UBC’s Alma Mater Society (AMS), along with another UBC graduate Tristan Markle and a Pivot Legal representative, sent a letter of complaint to the United Nations, lobbying for an investigation into Canada’s ratification of and subsequent failure to adhere to the principles on post-education fees stipulated in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1976. Mr. Frederick stated in following interviews that he felt that he and the rest of his AMS executive team have exhausted all other venues of lobbying Canadian governments (on both provincial and federal levels), and as a last resort made the decision to turn to the United Nations and request an international examination of Canada’s ‘human rights violation’ as per the 1976 covenant.

here’s the letter. here’s the 1976 agreement. here’s a news piece on it. and here’s the AMS press release.

most comments and forums showcase a violent, violent backlash from the internet community, including UBC students, against Mr. Frederick for his actions – he’s been called UBC’S very own George W. Bush (aka. village idiot); a ‘spoiled brat’; the vaguely insulting (but mostly confusing and very UBC-specific) ‘knolly’; and most commonly, a ‘tool’. some of the uglier comments revealed the agelong prejudice against ‘useless degrees’ such as arts as well as disbelief and an inability to ‘take Canadians seriously sometimes’ (see for reference: this article).

i’m still reeling from the shock. who wouldn’t be, after finding out that the top elected representative for the UBC student community had gone to the United Nations – the international institution that deals with genocides, conflict-ravaged regions, and severe humanitarian crises on a daily basis – with such a relatively trivial matter? granted, tuition fees are an important affair dear to the hearts of many a student at UBC, but in the international context, side to side with global problems like poverty and gender based violence, it becomes an issue of very little gravity. not to mention, no consultation with the student body on this matter took place prior to this. at the very least it would have seemed prudent to conduct a student referendum on such a serious and important matter – even in the face of record low student voter turn-out during UBC representative elections, I am strongly compelled to say that students, if consulted, would have definitely had some opinions of their own on this drastic measure.

but after considerable thought and at the risk of incurring the wrath of UBC students in Vancouver, I’d like to posit the following: Blake Frederick, although human just like the rest of us, must have been elected for a reason. he, more likely than not, understands how politics, media, and publicity work. we cannot assume that Mr. Frederick simply woke up on the wrong side of the bed one day and, either grumpy from having slammed his bespectacled face into his bedroom wall or short a few brain cells from the impact, drafted the aforementioned letter and sent it off without any further consideration. as a UBC student I will attest without hesitation to the fact that AMS has been fighting against budget cuts to education funding which covers student aid (recently a whopping $16 million has been cut, if anybody’s interested) and rising tuition fees (an annual event so predictable that I now set my watch to it) for ages and ages. results have been sparse and to be honest, few and far between.

now, there are many factors to why student representation in government has been so wanting, but I believe that it is not due to the executives’ lack for trying. campaigns have been organized, and lobbying has taken place – I do not doubt for a minute that Mr. Frederick was being absolutely honest when he stated that these conventional venues of protest had turned up little success. perhaps Mr. Frederick knew that these issues would never be publicized through ongoing efforts. perhaps sending a letter to the U.N. was his way of really getting the issue out into the public. let’s just say that Mr. Frederick was thinking along those lines when he decided to go the whole nine yards – like the man who dramatically takes his neighbour’s dog who poops all over his yard to the Supreme Court: rather ridiculous, but absolutely impossible to ignore, right?

and who can say his plan, if I have assumed correctly, hasn’t panned out? poor Mr. Frederick, whose reputation among a great deal of the students who populate the UBC Point Grey campus has undoubtedly dropped, might have forseen the cost of such publicity and willingly staked whatever reputation he had on this move in a rather backwards attempt to ensure an increase in awareness, if not some change in the long run.

undeniably, some will see this perspective, painting Mr. Frederick as a poor misunderstood fellow, as a bit farfetched. After all, his rogue stunt has definitely put the future of UBC’s reputation, along with those of its graduates, in jeopardy. however, I feel it serves sufficiently as another point of view to consider and a necessary counter-weight to all the claims from students that somehow, we (or at least whatever small population of the student body that votes) have accidentally elected a dunce. Mr. Frederick may be a tad dramatic, but he is no fool.

a quick update: an AMS council meeting has been called for this saturday – the resignation of both President Blake Frederick and another executive, VP External Tim Chu, has been requested. barring willing resignation, the requirement to impeach a council member is a 2/3 majority (see page 11).

more on the situation as it develops.