The University of British Columbia student society (AMS) has filed a complaint with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Why? Because "the [British Columbian and Canadian] governments have failed to meet their international human rights commitments to ensure that higher education is accessible to all" (PDF source) and the situation was "escalating out of control." Yes, expensive tuition is a humanitarian crisis.
What makes this juicier: this action was brought on by two AMS Council execs, Blake Federick (President) and Tim Chu (VP External), without knowledge of the rest of the council. Better yet, the complaint was lodged on behalf of an already-graduated student, one Tristan Markle (a friend of the execs'). The rest of AMS council was blindsided by this, and the AMS held an emergency meeting today to hold a vote to ask the responsible parties to resign. Said parties begged off the meeting citing "prior engagements". (ETA: they did have a prior engagement; it was a provincial NDP convention.) The next step will be impeachment - we'll see how that turns out.
Needless to say, a lot of people are not impressed at this action. And people are not impressed by people who are not impressed. Here is a collection from various sources:
Oana: The classic complaint to the UN : the finest lobbying / advocacy method used by nutjobs everywhere. Good job guys.
Jeet:To actually help address larges violations of human rights, I actually need a degree to graduate with- which for some students, is made a lot harder with higher tuition costs. If your concern with addressing human rights at the present moment is higher than your degree, perhaps your tuition payments would serve better as donations to relief agencies.
Taylor Logan: I do not know Mr. Markle apart from this affidavit, but to him I say this: suck it up. I have no clue how you accumulated 40K of debt while working…summer alone allows students the opportunity to work full time for 4 months.
One student vented his frustrations by writing a parody skit featuring Human Rights Commissioner Navanethem Pillay:
Pillay: It seems that students who pay some of the lowest tuition fees in the developed world will now have to pay significantly more. Assistant: That’s horrendous and totally deserving of our attention! Pillay: It’s a good thing this guy Frederick came to us. Assistant: Why didn’t he contact us earlier? Pillay: People act desperately during humanitarian crises. Assistant: What are we going to do? Pillay: You know that guy I was going to assign to our research group on development in Somalia? Assistant: Roberto? Pillay: I’m putting him on this. Assistant: Good idea. Pillay: And you know those funds that we were going to direct into the Rwanda group? Send them into Canada research. Assistant: Yes, madam. Pillay: *starts tearing up* Assistant: What is it Commissioner Pillay? Pillay: Oh, it’s this story they attached near the end about a poor boy named Tristan. Apparently, despite working part-time and receiving grants, he still accrued $42,000 in debt while completing his second bachelor’s degree at UBC. Assistant: Those bastards. Pillay: I can’t finish reading this. Assistant: Commissioner Pillay? Pillay: Yes Jean? Assistant: I have a suggestion. Pillay: What is it? Assistant: We should send this to the Security Council. Pillay: This is why I hired you, Jean. Assistant: What kinds of sanctions should we propose. Pillay: I don’t care. Sanction everything.
If you're interested in reading through all the splooge, there is a timeline of events here and a good background and link roundup here. A good read is former VP External Matthew Naylor's post.