Dear University of Victoria Student Society (UVSS) Members,
NOTE: Since the time this petition was endorsed, the University has made significant concessions regarding the increased costs to workers resulting from its new parking policy. To learn more about why the UVSS endorsed this petition, read on!
At our recent board meeting, the UVSS Board of Directors endorsed a petition that was started by campus union leaders, who represent the workers who sustain our campus by keeping it clean, fed, and functioning. The petition concerns the increase in the cost of parking passes as part of the University of Victoria’s (UVic) Sustainable Action Plan. We commend UVic on the sustainability initiatives and encourage everyone to find green ways to come to campus in whatever way is accessible to you, such as via cycling or transit. The fewer emissions we can create as a community, the better. However, there are significant equity issues within the current parking pass increase plan that render it more of an ableist green-washed money grab than an effective sustainability initiative.
The worker-led petition argues that the current plan to increase parking fees was not done in consultation with labour or student groups on campus and represents an increased burden to those folks who can least afford it. The current plan would significantly impact those unable to take transit or cycle due to disability. Taking transit during an ongoing pandemic when mask mandates have been lifted puts people at increased risk of exposure to COVID-19, which is a risk many are still unwilling or unable to take.
It will also negatively impact precarious workers like custodial or food service workers, who work schedules outside transit operating hours. People with additional care responsibilities that require frequent travel on tight timelines- Parents with childcare obligations might need to use a car to have the time to do anything else. Time is a privilege many folks on our campus don’t have, and increasing the costs to park on campus by this exorbitant amount is a tone-deaf action in an affordability crisis.
This part of the plan is not a sustainability initiative. It is a major increase in costs by UVIC on its time-burdened students and employees during an affordability crisis. For people who have to come to campus in order to work outside of transit operating hours, the parking pass increase and elimination of the annual pass represents a fee paid to their employer (UVic) to work. The imposition of this fee during a pandemic, a crisis of affordability, and a housing crisis is unjust, inequitable, and greedy. The UVSS endorsed this petition in solidarity with the people who are disproportionately harmed by this policy, many of whom belong to marginalized communities. We, therefore, join them in their ask that:
- The University of Victoria reduce the parking policy increase to be less than the cost-of-living increase per year, and keep the annual pass as an affordable option for employees.
- Furthermore, the NTS parking pass should remain at the current rate for those precarious workers who travel before or after transit service operate.
- The University should also support and update the Sustainable Action plan to provide options that support the use of electric cars and includes full-time remote work options to reduce commuting, leading to less emissions.
If the university is serious about reducing emissions from travel to campus, they will institute a hybrid-learning model in all classes, such as allowing students to learn remotely, drastically reducing emissions from students commuting to campus. Not only would it decrease emissions, but it would also ensure that everyone in our community can feel safe conducting their education through UVIC. The Access4All campaign, led by the UVSS Society for Students With A Disability, has been tirelessly lobbying the university on the importance of accessible learning. However, instead of listening, President Hall banned virtual attendance for the Board of Governor and Senate meetings if he disagreed with the members’ reasoning for attending in that format. If he really cares about reducing emissions, he will give students a choice to learn from home rather than taking more money from his employees and calling it a sustainability initiative.
Additionally, the university should support measures to increase transit and cycling infrastructure across Victoria. We look forward to working with UVIC in the future on sustainability initiatives that uphold UVSS and UVic values of social justice, decolonization, and equity for everyone in our campus community, and working with you, the students, to help hold them accountable!
Here are three ways you can support our initiatives on campus:
- Add your name to the petition!
- Volunteer on a campaign! Email Izzy at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- Support SUB Businesses! All revenue goes back to providing students with services, events, and workshops!