Thursday, October 29, 2009

Stand up for quality childcare at UVIC

Like many graduate students, I'm a parent with a 9 year old in childcare. My son was lucky enough to be enrolled in UVIC's childcare--he has been at UVIC childcare since he was 16 months, and I believe the program is great.

All UVIC parents have friends (or have been ourselves) on long waitlists (2-3 years even!) to get in and know UVIC childcare needs to expand.

The UVIC Childcare Action group has been working to bring this issue to the attention of the university. I’m happy to report that our campaign has succeeded in its goal of gaining the attention of the administration, and of bringing awareness to the importance of the childcare crisis faced by UVIC students, faculty and staff. I work for the Graduate Students' Society and we have been active in this groups. We know childcare is a significant issue for our members.

However, we now face a new situation. In its response to our campaign and the need for more childcare, the Board of Governors is seriously considering engaging a private childcare corporation, Kids & Company. For a very low “membership” fee, Kids & Company asserts that they will set up childcare facilities to meet UVic’s demand. However, parents and early childhood specialists alike are raising the warning bell about privatized childcare. Without wanting to demonize Kids & Co. in particular, we can say that for-profit childcare must, necessarily, cut corners to make a profit, and that this inevitably means lower-quality care despite higher fees.

Large private facilities pay lower wages than not-for-profit organizations like UVic Childcare, which results in high staff turnover (not good for children). They also meet only the minimum provincial standards in both caregiver-to-child ratios as well as staff qualifications; in both these areas, UVic Childcare exceeds the standards. Kids & Company has not yet gained a foothold in B.C., but they have established centres in Calgary, Toronto, Waterloo and Halifax.

While information regarding the company’s performance is not easy to obtain, we have heard some disturbing stories from parents, and two incidents in which Kids&Co centres had their licenses put in jeopardy – once for mould and sewer drain issues (Toronto) and once for accidentally leaving a toddler behind in the building during a fire-drill (Calgary). While Kids&Co has not been operational for long enough to gain perspective on their success, the example of an analogous big-box chain, ABC Childcare in Australia, which expanded rapidly and experienced multiple problems with staffing and quality before going bankrupt, suggests that we may want to be wary of inviting privatized childcare to solve our problems.The Board of Governors is currently gathering information from Kids&Company about the nature of the services they would provide, and they are hoping to make a decision at their meeting on November 27th. In preparation for this meeting, the UCAG has been working to substantiate concerns about privatized childcare with evidence of potential problems.
In addition, we have clarified our objective: faculty members need quality childcare in order to allow them to do their jobs properly, not just any childcare.In support of this objective, we are asking that if you have not yet written a letter in support of our campaign – and we do understand, we’re all busy! – that you do so now, and that you stress that you believe that quality childcare is essential to the success of faculty members who are parents of young children.

***Letters must be sent by November 9 to be included in the Board of Governors agenda.***

Many of us have had – or know of someone who has had – experience with less-than-ideal childcare, and we understand that it is difficult to be productive when you’re uncomfortable with the environment in which you have left your child. We’re concerned that if Kids & Company supplies childcare services to UVic, it may create problems for parents at the same time as it solves them. Thank-you for taking the time to write a letter in support of our campaign.

You’ll find a letter template below; please add your personal perspective or experience, if you wish, and email it to Ray Protti; David Turpin; and cc it to;; and

If you are a graduate student, I would appreciate it if you cc the GSS on your letter and let us know if you are willing to have us publish it on the GSS website.

You can email me at
Yours sincerely,
Stacy Chappel
University of Victoria Graduate Students' Society
University Childcare Action Group


To: Mr. Ray Protti, Chair, Board of Governors and Dr. David Turpin, President, University of Victoria
Re: Childcare expansion
Dear Mr. Protti and Dr. Turpin:

I am writing to respectfully ask that you work towards immediate expansion of the UVic childcare system. The current situation is not working for UVic parents.

Through contact and discussion with other concerned parents, I have increasingly come to realize that my situation is far from unique. The UVic childcare is rated among the best in Victoria, but its waitlist times are are extremely long (over two years for students and averaging four to five years for staff and faculty).

This has caused serious hardship for UVic students, staff, and faculty. Impacts on productivity, retention, and recruitment are significant, and growing. This is reflected in the recent departure of a promising young faculty member, Dr. Katrin Meissner, who left UVic because she could not find care for her child.

Recent UVic initiatives to develop a home-based childcare network and part-time childcare in Center 6 are welcome and encouraged. However, these initiatives will not provide sufficient care to meet the demand, and will provide few permanent, full time spaces. This problem could be solved by expanding the UVic group childcare, to provide additional spaces without compromising the quality of the care.

Additional space is particularly needed for the infant and toddler age groups, where few facilities are available in the community, and waitlist times are particularly long. Recruitment, retention, and accessibility are strategic initiatives for UVic. These goals are currently threatened by limited access to high-quality childcare on campus and in the community.

Faculty and staff who cannot find childcare they are satisfied with are forced to either quit, reduce their work to part time, or struggle with multiple demands, resulting in greatly reduced productivity. Parent students without childcare are unable to access higher education.Given that the UVic childcare system is among the best in Victoria, significant expansion of this system is the best solution to the childcare crisis. I hope you will work together with the students, staff, and faculty towards this goal.

Thank you for your kind consideration.

Friday, October 9, 2009

It’s your call: One click could save you $55 per term in athletics fees

Should students pay for a new athletic facility with a “new” $55/term fee (in addition to the current $73/term fee)?

You will be asked to vote on this question October 19-23, 2009 on webvote at

The Graduate Students’ Society is opposed to this fee increase. Here are some of our reasons:

Is this fee increase legal?

The GSS is concerned that the fee increase is not permitted under BC’s tuition limit policy, which caps increases of tuition and fees for current programs at 2% per year. This new fee will be a 75% fee increase for students.

The GSS has sent UVic a letter (PDF) asking UVIC to account for this, and will post any reply we receive on our campaign site here:

Who uses and who pays?

In the January 2009 term alone, contribution by students to the Athletics and Recreation budget was $1,082,939.00without including additional fees paid by students for intramural, weight room, and program fees.

According to UVIC data for January – March 2009, which assumes average usage of 1-3 visits per week, about 30% of undergraduates and 8% of graduate students are using the Ian Stewart Complex (the most popular recreation facility on campus).

Athletics fees: the goal posts keep moving!

Until UVIC purchased the Ian Stewart Complex (ISC), athletic fees increased at a rate almost identical to inflation. Since the purchase of ISC, students have been paying a greater proportion of the cost for Athletics at UVIC each year. In the past decade, the proportion of the Athletics budget covered by student fees has risen from 20% to 38%.

Mandatory fees can be a benefit—if they are less than market rate

Compare this fee proposal to the U-pass... the U-pass costs one quarter the cost of buying a monthly buss pass. Every student pays in, but the cost is kept lower than market rate. In return, transit improves bus service to Victoria campuses.

Now compare the proposed athletics fee proposal to other recreation passes in Victoria *:

No. of terms

Current fee

New fee

One term



Two Terms



Three Terms




Sannich Rec student pass


Oak Bay Rec annual pass


YM-YWCA pass

- family pass



* graduate students will have the option to opt out of the summer term; summer term will be charged at 50%. 60% of graduate students and 20% of undergraduates pay 3 terms of fees per year.

What are the other options?

UVIC says mandatory student fees need to cover 36.7% of the cost of the building—but what are other options? UVIC’s consultation process suggested selling the Ian Stewart Complex as one revenue source. Other options include bigger donor campaigns, a stronger lobby for government support.

UVIC’s facility analysis indicates UVIC will seek to cover costs of the building with the following revenues:

1. New students Mandatory Fee

2. Program revenues

3. Donors

4. Government funding

5. UVIC contribution

What are the arguments in favour of the fee increase?

UVIC made a presentation to the GSS Grad Council about the proposal. It can be found here.

UVIC’s facility analysis (500 pages) can be found here.

UVIC’s/vikes website supporting the fee increase is here

Student facebook group in support of the fee increase is found on the vikes website here

Visit open houses

Help the campaign

Visit the GSS campaign site, download a poster, learn more: all here

Saturday, October 3, 2009

GSS Event bulletin October 2, 2009

UPDATE - looking for our current UVIC GSS events notices? visit them here:


Ok ... back to the original post, below:

  1. GSS Victory on representation
  2. Wine Club Tickets on Sale for Oct. 7th @ 5PM
  3. Open Mic Night Oct. 8 @ 7PM
  4. Wednesday Morning Coffee at the Grad House
  5. Know Your Rights & Responsibilities – An Interactive Workshop on Understanding Discrimination & Harassment (For Students)
  6. Writing Wednesdays for Graduate Students
  7. Longer Writing Centre Hours
  8. Graduate Student Fellowships
  9. Subscribe/Unsubscribe
  10. Submit an item
1 GSS Victory on representation
Last year the GSS campaigned for increased representation for graduate students at UVIC. On Friday, October 2, the GSS won a major victory when the Senate voted in favour of increasing graduate student Senate seats from 1 seat to 3. Congratulations to everyone who helped on the campaign.

2 Wine Club Tickets on Sale for Oct. 7th @ 5PMThe Grad House Restaurant’s Chef Alan King-Jones has selected four great wines and paired them with amazing appetizers for this years’ inaugural Wine Club. Tickets are $12 for graduate students and $15 for guests, and are available in the GSS office. Tickets on sale to October 5th only.

3 Open Mic Night Oct. 8 @ 7PM
Come join in the fun! Hosted by Miles Waghray, we provide the electric piano, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, and a hand drum. You provide the talent.

4 Wednesday Morning Coffee at the Grad House
Come get free coffee and tea with other grad students in the David Clode room at the Graduate Students’ Centre, across from the main office. 9 - 19:30 am

5 Know Your Rights & Responsibilities – An Interactive Workshop on Understanding Discrimination & Harassment (For Students)

Tuesday October 6, 1:00 – 2:30pm

Sedgewick Building Wing C (Room C-168)

Through interactive activities and group discussions participants will:

Understand the legal and practical definitions of Discrimination and Harassment
Learn how to identify Discrimination and Harassment
Develop some positive ways of approaching and managing conflict
Understand what Policies and Practices UVic has in place to promote a campus free of Discrimination and Harassment
Understand Your Rights and Responsibilities are around matters of Discrimination and Harassment and How You can Encourage A Welcoming and Inclusive campus Environment …

We can accept a maximum of 20 participants.

Please contact Bette Cameron in the Equity & Human Rights Office to RSVP: 250.721.8488

6 Writing Wednesdays for Graduate Students(Hosted by Student Transition Services and Graduate Students’ Society)
Looking for a great study space on campus?Seeking motivation to complete essays or your thesis/dissertation?Interested in connecting with graduate students in a similar state of mind?Drop by the Student Transition Centre, located in the basement of the Student Union Building, room B010 every Wednesday between 10:30am and 2:00pm. It’s a relaxed friendly atmosphere with free coffee, tea, use of kitchenette and a quiet structured working space. Starts October 7th 2009 – You don’t want to miss it!

7 Longer Writing Centre Hours
The Writing Centre (TWC) is now open longer and in two locations! You can find us in the McPherson Library Learning Commons Mondays through Fridays, 10am-4pm, and Wednesday evenings, 4pm-7pm. As well, we offer a drop-in service on Tuesdays 4-7pm and Saturdays 1-4pm in the Campus View Room in the Cadboro Commons Building. Everyone welcome! We can help you with award applications, proposal writing, and course papers. We can also help you get your thesis or dissertation in better shape. Our current roster of tutors are from the departments of English, Law, Linguistics, Math, Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering, Political Science, and History in Art. You can book an appointment at

We’re looking forward to helping you become a more effective and efficient writer!

8 Graduate Student Fellowships: BC Institute for Co-operative Studies
The BC Institute for Co-operative Studies at the University of Victoria invites applications from University of Victoria graduate students for fellowships of up to 12 months' duration during the 2010/11 academic year, beginning September 1, 2010.The purpose of the fellowship is to provide graduate students working on research projects related to co-operative and community-based economy with financial support, suitable space and a stimulating environment conducive to writing and reflection.The Institute welcomes applications from all disciplinary backgrounds for projects that promote the scholarly study of subjects related to co-operative and community-based economic arrangements. 'Co-operative and community-based economy' is taken to refer to collective undertakings, not necessarily co-operatives:* aimed at providing the needs and wants of some community or group, where any profits are a means of supplying those needs and wants,* managed autonomously and by democratic processes, and* in which persons and their participation are given priority over capital in the distribution of any surplus.

9 Subscribe/Unsubscribeor change your email used with this bulletin here:
10 Submit an item
by emailing a plain text message (no attachments or PDFs!) to gsscomm[at]