Legal Eye Spotlight: House Arrest will make you break your curfew

Are you ready to rock?

Are you ready to rock? All credit for photography goes to Arvin Asadi. Sept 26, 2014, Joe’s Apartment.


Well, maybe you should think twice about breaking your curfew around these guys. House Arrest is a band that includes Vancouver Lawyers and a Provincial Court judge. The spectacle of being an all-around talented person does exist, and it might make you jealous, as House Arrest plays a stunning array of genres, without a hitch. They can be found strumming and picking to jazz, classic rock, pop, R&B, and other influences.

Legal Eye went to the frontlines last week to experience this fantastic group for ourselves, and we were pleasantly surprised. We were quite interested to hear a bit more about this group, so for your reading pleasure, we interviewed David Hay, and the band happens to be just as funny as it is talented.

David Hay, partner in the litigation group at Richards Buell Sutton LLP (RBS), talks to us about his double life as lead singer of House Arrest, his favourite songs on current rotation, and discharging the onus probandi when performing in front of a new crowd.

Thanks to Richards Buell Sutton LLP for graciously sponsoring tickets for a few lucky UBC law students to see House Arrest perform at Joe’s Apartment last Friday night.

Note the responses have been edited by Legal Eye writer Yusra Khan for grammar and clarity.

When and why did you start playing?

When I was 6 years old, I had guitar lessons but my teacher smoked pot and the smell grossed me out so my parents fired him and I started learning on my own. By the time I was 12 years old I had a band. We played one song, mainly to get girls. No one could play all that well, except the drummer, so we’d build the song around a 20-minute solo during which we would go after the girls in the room (and the booze that we stole from our parents).

It seems the appreciation for a great drummer was born at a very young age for David!

How did you meet your other bandmates?

I met the drummer Chiko Misomali through a bandmate in a former band, the Bickertons. He was just leaving Biff Naked’s band so we caught him at a weak moment. Chiko also had a house gig down at Bar None with Brian King (who was my bandmate at the time) Dave Taylor (former bass player for Brian Adams), and others, so he was in a happy place. He is our Charlie Watts, and like Mick and Keith, we still try to keep him happy because he is the bed we all lie on. I have had lousy drummers and still resent them to this day.

I met Michael Hurst through music and he also was in the Bickertons, then joined House Arrest.

I met David St. Pierre, Jon Monk, and Dan Burnett through legal channels. They came together primarily to compete in the annual CBA Battle of the Bar Bands, and we kept going from there. I met Shabaz Khan, the bass player through Dan Burnett. Chiko, Michael and Shabaz are not lawyers, but normal people with big talent.

What is the inspiration behind the name ‘House Arrest’?

It reflects the lawyer component; people who do bad things consider ‘House Arrest’ to be a good thing.

What are some of your favourite songs?

Hmmm, right at this moment:

But I’m like a teenager when it comes to favourite songs; they change, and when I have one I’ll play it 50 times in a row.

Have you ever thought about writing original music? (Based on your set list online, I’m assuming the band only does covers)

I have a lot of my own songs- a few EPs, and I write all the time. I may even roll out a song or two at Joe’s Apartment on September 26, but I understand that covers work for a party like setting where people are looking to blow off steam. We like to see people move, so we perform covers. If I didn’t have a good day job I might not take that approach. I am actually quite conflicted about it.

House Arrest did in fact play an original song to a very appreciatively loud and dancing crowd.

Has a client’s impression of you as a lawyer ever changed when they find out you’re a regular on the concert scene in Vancouver?

If anyone’s impression of me is bad, they tend to keep that to themselves, or just stop calling, so I am blissfully unaware of negative reactions. Generally though, I would say people like a few dimensions and aren’t threatened by the phone booth into which I must enter to transform myself.

The Vancouver Bar associates me with music so that’s good. I struggled a bit with people in the music world trusting that I wasn’t with “the man”, or “the system” but even they have come around.

How do you balance practice and performances while maintaining a robust legal career and other personal obligations? Any specific tips or tricks that law students could try to use?

Try to not rehearse until 3 am if you need to be in the Court of Appeal in the morning, swim once a day, and resist drawing too much on the dark side for material.

Nerves: are they worse when performing in front of a musical audience or a legal audience?

The nerves are way worse in front of a musical audience. I always think that 95% of the people in any audience think they can do what you are doing, and until you’re good enough to prove them wrong, you’re not going to be entertaining to them. The onus of proof is much easier to discharge with lawyers in the audience.

All photography thanks to:

Arvin Asadi
House Arrest Website:





And of course, one with the fans (mobile upload – Dawid Cieloszczyk):

Why your goals may be haunting you




The satisfying life, the ideal overshadowing our ordinary human lives dwells within purposiveness; the human need for discernable goals is quite apparent. What state do you devolve to when you have absolutely no goal overarching your life at any given moment? You are in theoretical limbo: a frightening state of affairs that very few humans generally experience, at least maybe not since the age of 10. Your limbs move, but you know not why! I do not speak of fantastical life goals either, but just any kind that signifies something to you, even if it’s something as humble as “getting by comfortably” or falling in love.


Human life continues in such a goal-less state, but it stagnates like a wounded animal. It is ultimately fascinating that you could live your whole life wrapped up in completing one step, followed by yet another: graduating school, looking for a job, making friends, and becoming a master-chef. Where, you ask, in all of this, is there a moment to pause and wonder, to reflect. Have you done something for its own sake lately, or does a hierarchy of implanted stepping-stones, whereby you will leap from one goal to the next, dominate your life? Are your next five years basically determined, or contingencies put in place in case something changes?


This tunnel-visioned goal-orientedness marks the other extreme of life, in which we often fail to appreciate that our existence isn’t truly goal-oriented – although I suppose if you’re theistic, this could be a different story. There is no final objective or award for finishing: maybe a rainy forecast. But the fact that we tend to pass our lives without stopping and looking around, or breathing in fresh air, just because, is concerning. This is likely a symptom of western society and the malleable human mind, in which one is propelled into systems one does not understand as a child, with decisions one could not possibly make. We are taught to live and breathe these goals until they are so ingrained that we don’t even question why we have them: “I need a house; I need a degree; I need a shirt that looks good at the bar”.


In this context, the perspective that we can glean from a retired person is of great interest. It is typical of our western society to shun the sages who walk around not in robes, but ordinary garments. This is truly sad indeed, because these time defying warriors hold one of the most estimable nuggets of wisdom known to humankind: the secret of balance in the struggle I’m speaking of. That is, the retired has no real need for the stepping-stone hierarchy of goals or purposes that breathes purpose into the ‘career-self’s’ life for the time being; the retiree simply does what she wants, when she wants, and lives on the daily, finding value in simpler and more fundamental things, such as a walk in the park, or extensive tea time.


There is no magical formula which can guarantee you the balance between the incessant goal-leaping without pause for the present, and the devolution of human worth into what would be a goal-less boredom or oblivion. However, just knowing that a healthy relationship can exist between your present and future self is a start. This may sound puzzling, but your future self is currently residing with you, telling you which decisions will be pleasing to it at a later date. That future self told you what career to pursue, what city to move to, and so on. The key to genuine and lasting satisfaction will however be to not only live according to the dictates of the future self, but to engage that present self that often takes the back seat in our career-oriented lives.
























The Mystery of the Reasonable Person

reasonable person


I can’t sleep at night. I don’t know where to turn anymore because not even the incredibly helpful and amazing women at the Career Services Office can help me with my issue. My problem is that I can’t figure out who this enigmatic “reasonable person” is. The courts have been persistently gossiping about them. Who is he or she? Will we ever cross paths? Are they British or German?


The cornerstone of the objective test for determining what an individual should have done in common law context, irrespective of their particularities, is the character of the ‘reasonable person’. What does a person who is not maddeningly brilliant, but not as thick as wood, foresee? This person, according to the courts, ought to have an ordinary degree of prudence and moral sensibility. Sounds pretty clear, right? You must be dreaming.


There is nothing clear about the mythical figure of the law that the courts use in their analysis of an individual’s requisite standard of care in negligence (and elsewhere). For instance, is the reasonable, ordinarily intelligent person supposed to be essentially an extrapolation from what the numerically average behavioral response to a certain situation would be? I find this is unlikely to be the correct conception, as it would be simple to concoct scenarios where the average behavior in certain circumstances is objectively heinous.


Take for example the mortifying case of Kitty Genovese, which produced the infamous “By-Stander Effect”. There, a psychological mechanism was used to explain the shocking result of all of the by-standers watching Kitty’s murder, but doing absolutely nothing about it. If we took the statistical norm for behavior to be what the ‘reasonable person’ would have done in the circumstance, we might have a morally bankrupt reasonable person. Even if the average behavioral response to a set of circumstances is generally unproblematic, I doubt the law could tolerate following statistical principle to an unjust, morally devoid result.


As a result, maybe the reasonable person is actually closer to a moral principle of some sort. That is, it doesn’t depend on our experience of average societal behavior. I have in mind Aristotle’s virtue ethics theory, which nestles all moral worth into one’s dispositions and character. This person would be neither too brave, nor too cowardly, neither too liberal, nor too greedy, and so on. This person rides the mean, the average, and has cultivated their dispositions through habit and experience. Could this be the reasonable person I have been looking for?


It is most fanciful to presume that with mountains of files to deal with at a time, the courts reference virtue ethics in their thinking about the reasonable person in a ski-hill accident. However, even if the virtuous person is still too high a standard for the reasonable, ordinary person, there is no doubt that a mere statistical principle of what people ordinarily do in society may lead to absurdities, as I warned above. There is no comfort in numbers. This is why I think the courts should, and sometimes do gravitate towards the reasonable person that is based on moral principle. This is not to say that there can be no reference to what the masses ordinarily do, for there is some truth behind their actions. But hopefully judges supplement their thinking about the reasonable person with some basic moral ideals.


My last question about the reasonable person is about their gender, race, religion, culture, and so forth. I think these lenses are impossible to avoid, and to ignore them is to ignore a crucial part of reality. This ‘objective test’ intends to elude particularities, but to what extent? Does it steamroll all of the differences into one, giving us an objective test at the cost of ignoring crucial differences, which can lead us to having different expectations in a situation? This is perhaps the most vexing aspect about the reasonable person.


Reasonable people! I call you forward to identify yourselves! You have some explaining to do.



You Have 1 New Notification



There is nothing that will force you into the unexplored recesses of your lump of neurons and assorted chemicals as a delayed flight. For me, this is in part due to the fact that my phone doesn’t charge properly, so I have no mindless diversions from the firm floor that is currently acting as my resting ground at 3:30 am. Somewhere in-between the stage of extreme exhaustion, law-school hangover, and lively, whirring thoughts, I do what someone will hopefully be paying me to do one day: think. “If you can’t work with your hands, then you better use your brain “, echo the words of a concerned mother.

Back to the phone. Some time apart from this expensive Facebook machine has forced me to amuse myself like people centuries ago did: doodling on paper, asking people if they want to play a game of cards, and so on… There really is a world outside of this smart device. Unfortunately this can’t be true if everyone’s eyes are locked onto a screen looking for things to do, because then you realize you’re the only one free from the matrix. Reaching around for someone to have even a trivial conversation with can be challenging when everyone is plugged in.

I’m not about to turn this into some old school speech about the nuisance of modern technology, because I love technology, probably more than most. But I find it hard to swallow that people are unable to even dare setting aside their phone, which acts as their shield from having to interact in sinister places like public transportation.
The point I want to make is this: technology is evolving exponentially, and if you are like myself, you love delving into it and are amenable to getting lost in a world that is not one of greenery and shrubs. There are immense psychological impacts and influences to be researched in the area of social media, which I await with elation. The observation that has come to me now however, is that the technologies that are capable of overcoming us today are far more powerful than they have ever been. Similar arguments can be made about the newspaper decades ago, but the smartphone is different, because it is like an extension of the mind, plus an audience.

Your audience used to only extend up to your line of sight, but now the audience is either anonymous, or 500 people connected to a similar program, or the whole internet itself. This might explain why we shun the people on the tedious commute in preference for the mind in our hand. By flipping on the phone, we get instant reward, much gratification, and a forum on which to share information, which activates the reward centers in our brains. No one said pleasure and ‘happiness’ are bad things, but the question is what kind of values are we instilling?
Are we becoming more awkward? Are we encouraging the taking of appropriate risks, or a life of safe, instantaneous gratification? Are we encouraging cooperation, or secluded individualism? Are we developing individuals closely in-tune and sensitive to the environment around them? Wherever we are going as a society with this, do not neglect the significance of the flow of human consciousness. As Hesse says, “the river is everywhere.” And as such, we are the wielders of its direction and flow. Would it not be such a beautiful thing to merge into the sea?

Damon and Pythias: the path to friendship



Beyond the cloud of abstract theory, principles of justice, and ideals of morality, there is a condition of existence that actually matters. There is something about reality, where real people fight, love, rejoice, and despair, that is completely and utterly remote from the world of artificial theory. It’s as if theorizing about our world merely serves as a tool to capture a better image of this distinct thing that is so arduous to articulate rightly in words.

I want to ward off the worldview of idealists, who become so lost in the pursuit of certain ideas like wealth, success, status, and ideology, that their feet lose grounding in the reality of the world of experience. In our greedy swipes at the grand tree of wisdom, we sometimes fail to capture any fruit at all, but if our swipes were measured in accordance with our abilities, not letting our idealism carry us too far adrift, we might have a few pieces of wisdom already.

I find such pieces of wisdom about action grounded in reality in numerous Greek myths, which explains my fascination. While idealism alone is empty and unsatisfying, passionate action grounded in an undying friendly ember is its opposite. In particular, there is a myth about Damon and Pythias, and this is a call to the world to produce more characters like these.

In the myth, the tyrant Dionysius sentences Pythias to death for allegedly plotting against him. Pythias asks to return home to say farewell before serving the sentence, but since he is not trusted, he is only permitted to do so on the condition that his friend Damon will be executed if Pythias fails to return. Damon of course agrees to this arrangement. After some delays, Dionysius is prepared to execute Damon, until Pythias arrives, exasperated and with excuses ready.

Pythias pleads with the tyrant, claiming that he was thrown overboard by pirates on his voyage back, causing him to swim vigorously to the shore. He did everything he could to return and save his friend. Upon hearing this Dionysius strokes his beard and cracks a mesmerized smile. He is so impressed by the caliber of their friendship that he pardons them both.

The friendship driving this series of events isn’t in any way far removed from reality, but rooted in an intense, beautiful feeling. Our affection for ideas fluctuates, waxing and waning from one crescent to the other, but meaning in life that arises out of genuine friendship can have lasting impressions on our minds. Of course, it is not necessary to have the degree of loyalty and affection tested only by near-death circumstances, but this world needs more Damons and Pythiases who recognize where the highest kind of value is found, and how best to realize that value. In the words of the great orator Cicero, “friendship improves happiness and abates misery, by the doubling of our joy and the dividing of our grief; a friend is, as it were, a second self.”

Silk Road Gets Busted: The end of a new war or just the beginning?

Silk Road


On October 2 of 2013, the DEA took down a billion dollar drug market overnight. There were no guards with AK-47s, no crops in Columbia, no motorcycle gang transporting the merchandise. Just a guy using free wifi in a public library in San Francisco.


William Ulbricht (also known by his internet alias “Dread Pirate Roberts”) founded and operated the online black marketplace Silk Road. Silk Road was a website where users could buy and sell illegal goods anonymously (or so they thought) from all over the world. The site operated much like eBay insofar as the website itself did not provide any goods; it was simply a place where buyers and sellers could negotiate contracts for illegal merchandise, the majority of which was drugs.


Everything was bought and sold in Bitcoins, a digital peer to peer currency with no central issuing authority. By the time the site was taken down, 1.2 billion dollars had changed hands through their 900,000 users with the owner taking in 80 million personally in commission fees.


What does the Silk Road bust mean? Did a billion dollar drug market really just disappear overnight? Sure the website is gone. And sure maybe some of the sellers have been arrested with more arrests to come. But there are a billion dollars worth of consumers that are still sitting at their laptops looking for a new website to buy their drugs. So I wonder, is the market really gone or is it just migrating to a new web address?


In the Internet age where a criminal entrepreneur can open a new website in the blink of an eye, it’s easy to see why cyberspace creates new challenges for the war on drugs. However, the false sense of security given to users by being able to buy their drugs from behind a computer screen may start to wear off as we see law enforcement agencies bust these illegal websites and start collecting data on their customers. So far law enforcement agencies have focused their efforts on pursuing the site operators and higher profile dealers, but who knows what the future holds.


Similar websites that were opened before Silk Road’s demise have since increased in traffic, with one website tripling in product listings within a week of the DEA’s raid. However, while there may be other websites, it might not be long before they too become subject to seizure from law enforcement. Another website similar to Silk Road, The Farmer’s Market, was taken down in April of 2012.


Will law enforcement groups be able to successfully deter new websites by busting enough of them? Or will there always be someone willing to take the risk for a share of this new billion dollar internet drug market? Does Silk Road’s closure signify the beginning of the end of the internet drug war? Or is it merely the end of the beginning?

10 tasty Vancouver eats that your law school budget can stomach

Ba Le


If you’re anything like me (probably better if you’re not), you like the idea of fine dining more than you actually enjoy the thing itself. Having a very stoic waiter address me as “miss” and carefully drape a napkin across my lap for me while I try to not knock three different types of spoons  off the table just makes me feel super bougie and uncomfortable.

On top of that, I’m a law student and one without a trust fund to boot, which combined, means that I’m not exactly making it rain. So in recognition of my lower-middle class roots and my empty wallet, I present to you some options for dining in Vancouver on the go and on the cheap.

  1. Tung Hing (1196 Kingsway). For the uninitiated, Vietnamese subs (or bahn mi, to be accurate) are deceptively delicious and a far superior option to that evil, weird smelling sandwich chain which shall remain unnamed. A gruff lady will slap together a baguette stuffed with things like cucumber, cilantro, hot peppers, and meat if you’re into that kind of thing, and you will marvel at the party your tastebuds are having. Tung Hing serves a vermicelli/tofu-based vegetarian option in addition to the traditional meat-based subs, and also conveniently doubles as a bakery, so you can make a meal of it with sandwich, beverage, and pastry for less than $10.
  2. Ba Le (various). There is a Ba Le in Chinatown and also one at Fraser and Kingsway. I prefer the Viet subs at Tung Hing, but Ba Le is also a strong contender. The downtown location may not be veg-friendly if I recall correctly, so be wary.
  3. Mitra Canteen (3034 Main Street). Falafels and shawarmas in a low-key, solo-dining friendly environment with beer served by the glass or by the pitcher. Good food and super friendly service.
  4. Babylon Café (various). Babylon Café was most famous for its tiny but ever-popular Robson & Granville storefront, which sadly is no longer around. However, they have various other locations, not all of which I have vetted but which hopefully all serve up the same quality and quantity of Middle Eastern food. I dream of their falafel plates.
  5. Goldies Pizza and Beer Lounge (605 West Pender Street). Respectable thin-crust pizza by the slice at their handy-dandy express window, or by the whole pie should you so choose. Strangely, I’ve never dined in here so I can’t speak to that experience, but all of the slices that I’ve tried whilst on the go have been delicious.
  6. Trilussa (4363 Main Street). Delicious Roman style pizza available by the piece or by the whole pie. They also serve panini and soup with combos available. All served by very lovely staff.
  7. House of Dosas (1391 Kingsway). On Mondays, all dosas are $5.99. Be careful when asked about preferred spice level by the waiter with a malevolent gleam in his eye – I’m usually a “Thai spicy” kind of girl, but the “hot” here is literally like 8 bird’s eye chilies cut up into your dosa, and if you order it that way, you’re going to have a bad time. Open 24 hours!
  8. The Dime (1565 Commercial Drive). All of the food here is $4.95, similar to the Factory and the Warehouse on Granville Street. I refuse to recommend the places on Granville Street on principle alone, so I shall resort to casually mentioning them as an aside if you happen to be into that kind of thing.
  9. Hawkers Delight (4127 Main Street). A bit of a hole in the wall serving Southeast Asian style “street” food at low prices. Vegetarian options available. Cash only.
  10. Bon’s Off Broadway (2451 Nanaimo Street). Bon’s is a bit of a legend, but I have not ever been, mostly because I don’t really do the whole eggs-bacon-toast breakfast thing. But if you do, go to Bon’s to get your fix for a whopping $2.95, all day erry day.

Angela is a 2L who is quickly losing steam with writing up all of these recommendations – but it’s still a better alternative to studying. You won’t find her on Facebook, but you can find her on Twitter at @ange7a or occasionally fleeing Allard Hall at top speeds if you ever want to talk about books, coffee, food, culture, the implications of technological innovation, the colonization of Mars, the meaning of life, or just about anything else.

Allard Girl has all the juicy gossip


Hey there future lawyers. Allard Girl here, your one and only source into the monotonous lives of law students. Here’s the dirt you’ve all been waiting for…


x o x o

As the World Famous UBC Law Boat Cruise approaches, frantic 1Ls should immediately put aside their readings in order to secure a date. Believe me, having someone to wait in the bar line for you is much more important than trying to follow along with whatever Sheppard is saying. And if your eyes are on the 1L Nikos Harriss lookalike…make sure it really is him, and not Nikos himself: we’ve heard even Professor Bennedet has gotten the two confused once or twice.

x o x o


Not even one month into his time at Allard Hall, Kurtis Jonez is already under heavy scrutiny for shady dealings surrounding law school extra-curriculars. A fellow 1L in Scow, who wished to remain anonymous, reported that she saw him speaking to Brenda Shwabb the day before the race, and handing off an indistinguishable package.  The next day, Brenda purported to break her nose due to a mysterious “charades injury”, effectively eliminating her team from the hunt. Aubin Calverte, the captain of Brenda’s team, said after the fact: “I believed her at the time, but now that I think about it – really? Charades broke her nose?  Does she really think people believe that?”


Patrick Bobynn, the captain of the 5th place team, was also unimpressed. He said of the incident: “I put together a team of pretty girls and hockey bros and we don’t even break the top 3? That’s bush league. That bro Kurtis is a total duster.”


Kurtis also recently won the Blakes Plasma Car race, deepening suspicions that he has been bent on Allard Hall domination since day one.


Speaking of the Plasma Car race, it has been reported that multiple 2Ls were thrown out for creating their own Karaoke stage. When will they ever stop talking about “Houseboat”?


x o x o


If you’ve ever swooned over Malcolm Phunt’s dreamy hair (and we know that most of us have), prepare to be heartbroken. It was revealed to the Legal Eye by an anonymous but reliable source close to Malcolm that he has been wearing a wig since entering law school. Bald since birth, Malcolm reportedly used to wear a long, dark, dreadlocked wig during his “reggae phase” in undergrad, but ditched it for the more conservative strawberry blonde flow a week before orientation week in first year.  Other notable outed wig-wearers in Allard Hall include Brett Weningerr (1L), Blair McRadue (2L), and Patrick Wallker (3L). Patrick is apparently in the market for a new wig, as his current one is becoming a little threadbare.


x o x o


After the creation of the budget reform committee, it was expected that the budget process would be less controversial this year.  However, with Rochelle Colette in power, it has been rumoured that the Honey Badgers women’s rugby team has received sudden injections of cash.  Though no hard evidence has yet surfaced, there have been reports of questionable expenditures. E-tickets to Vegas in the names of Rochelle, Emily McKlintock, Lauren Reed, and Kaila Strung were left open on the screen of the LSS’ newly-purchased iMac. All four ladies were also spotted at River Rock Casino on Saturday, where Rochelle was seen pulling fistfuls of twenties out of her purse and slapping them down on the craps table, as Kaila drunkenly yelled, “I do what I want!”


Their arrogance has been noticed around the school as well, as they strut through the hall and make fun of “nerds” on a daily basis. When asked by a Legal Eye correspondent, a concerned Criley O’Crien, of the fiscally-responsible and equity-focused Illegal Beavers rugby team, had this to say: “I just don’t like how they hold themselves – they strut around Allard Hall like they own the place. We should motion to have their budget funding cut by half, because, like, they’re not being very nice.”


Strung and McKlintock, the Honey Badgers’ Co-Presidents, were unavailable for comment, but Reed stopped by our interview with O’Crien long enough to say, “Honey Badger don’t care. Honey badger don’t give a s*&t”, before kicking O’Crien in the knee-cap and stealing his lunch money.

x o x o

The race for the 2014-2015 LSS Executive is quickly heating up. Paul Kresock has a 100% attendance rate at the ever-exclusive “Brunch Club”. That is either a serious love for waffles, or a strong desire to be the first ever 4L(SS) President. Whatever his motive, he’ll face some serious competition from current 4L Andrew Diltz. Diltz, the only party-planner to guarantee a “no-line” entry, has already created his own boat cruise and joined the UBC Law Colour Run team. It is confirmed that there are unconfirmed reports that he is still living at Allard. Step your game up, Kresock.

x o x o


You know you love me.


Allard Girl



Do CUS Punishments Threaten our Academic Freedom?



The results for ‘Frosh Week Controversy of 2013’ are in and the the BCom students have taken it by a landslide. The Commerce Undergraduate Society (CUS) raised some eyebrows with a misogynistic cheer embracing ravaging non-consenting minors during their frosh week events.

Among the backlash the CUS is facing has come another form of backlash. That is, backlash against the backlash. A philosophy professor by the name of Mark Mercer wrote an article in the Ubyssey entitled “Sanctions against CUS set a dangerous precedent”. Mercer claims that by punishing the students involved, UBC is setting a dangerous precedent which threatens our academic freedom. I respectfully disagree.

Now first off, I want to make something clear. I value academic freedom a lot. I value the right of anyone to make any kind of argument, no matter how ludicrous or offensive. I embrace discussing people’s values and have little tolerance for restrictions on freedom of speech. In other words, I am extremely sympathetic to Mr. Mercer’s project of keeping our university administrators  from censoring our professors, and most importantly, our students.

Despite my sympathies to his cause, after reading about the specifics of the incident, I cannot help but feel he’s being a little too philosophical to dress up the CUS controversy into an academic freedom issue. Why? Because it has nothing to do with academic freedom and everything to do with inappropriate behaviour during a university frosh event.

Mr. Mercer starts by talking about the issue of freedom of speech and how the CUS’s freedom is being violated by university reprimands. Firstly, it is possible that the chant was so offensive so as to actually constitute hate speech and could be a reasonable limit on our s.2 Charter rights. But Mercer fails to make a key distinction; this is not the Supreme Court of Canada, this is a university administrative tribunal! Free speech might be a guaranteed Charter right, but that does not mean your speech is free from the scrutiny and subsequent reprimand from the academic institution you are attending (and possibly acting as a frosh leader for). We as students understand we cannot freely shout obscenities during professors’ lectures. So I think it’s important to make note of the broader social context of the university and why the same “free speech rights” that we ought to recognize legally might differ from the real free speech rights we can exercise in a university environment without getting into trouble.

That being said, obviously the university still needs to recognize the freedom of speech of their students and their professors. UBC has a mixed record on this account, with the APEC controversy of 1997 where a student protest ended up drawing a severe police presence and the extensive use of pepper spray, and in 2009 with the UBC catching the attention of the BC Civil Liberties Association by preventing students from putting posters in their dorm windows. But we also have to recognize that a misogynistic rape chant is not exactly a typical free speech issue, and certainly comes very far from any commonly understood notion of “academic freedom”.

Mercer warns us that university administrators will never be able to recognize the difference between academic freedom and freedom of speech; a typical “don’t let them open the flood gates” argument. Maybe he’s right, but if he is, we should hire some smarter administrators that are capable of making this distinction. Moreover, there may be reasonable limits on academic freedom in the university context. But I think most of us would agree that there are definitely reasonable limits on freedom of speech in the university context; and screaming “O is for oh soo tight, U is for underage, N is for no consent,” qualifies as a reasonable limit during a frosh event.

I respectfully disagree with Mr. Mercer’s plea for the university administrators to keep their noses out of the CUS’s business. The university’s reprimands seem reasonable and the suggestion that there be no reprimand (and possibly no response at all from the university?) seems unreasonable. The students willingly participated in an offensive chant that celebrates sexual violence against women. Maybe, as some commerce students have commented, it’s all in good fun – just a chance for the BComs to bond. But should they really be bonding through an offensive misogynistic chant, even if it is intended to be facetious? And is a university frosh event really the right context for such a chant? Is there any right context for such a chant?

Speech is not free when you are acting on behalf of the university. Students that volunteer for roles as frosh leaders ought to know that there is a standard of behaviour they are supposed to abide by. Speech that might stand as completely legal in a SCC trial could still be sanctioned by the university administration. Rightfully so.

The university has good place to speak up. While I agree that they should not be going on a witch hunt to punish and ruin the lives of the students involved, demanding the whole CUS to do community service and learn more about sexual violence is a great idea in its own right, and this kind of behaviour is a clear sign that the commerce students need more education on the matter. And hey, if a few of the frosh leaders that were proudly cheering about going to jail for sexually assaulting minors want to resign, I say let them.


A rough road leads to the stars: peer tutoring at UBC Law



Per aspera ad astra—A rough road leads to the stars.

I want to go into space. And I’m going to do it one day. But before I do it, I’d like to help you succeed academically at law school.

The UBC Law Peer Tutoring program is a pretty cool service run by Kaila Mikkelsen, Dana-Lyn Mackenzie, and a happy-go-lucky ragtag squad of 2Ls and 3Ls. We do exactly what it says on the label. We’re your peers. And we tutor you.

There is no stigma involved in signing up for a peer tutor. This isn’t a program for bad students. It’s a program for students who care about their academic performance. You can request a specific peer tutor if you’ve met one of us and found that there was a good match in personalities, or you can simply email Ms. Mikkelsen with a short bio and a list of your academic concerns. Ms. Mikkelsen will do a bang-up job of matching you up to your ideal tutor, based on personality, study-style, and interests.

You can meet us only once. Or you can meet us as many times as we allow you to.

Your peer tutor will assist and guide you, sharing their successful study and learning strategies, and providing tips on how to most efficiently tackle the challenging study of law. We won’t provide proofreading assistance, or re-teach you your course materials. But we’re happy to discuss the material with you to facilitate your understanding.

We’re also happy to just chat about opportunities at law school or career goals.

I look forward to meeting you, tutee.