When making the major decision to apply to a university for the first time, the research process is nothing short of mind boggling and frustrating (at least for me it was). With so much to consider and so many people ready to share their position on what’s best for you, choosing a university takes a lot of work and soul searching.
Before I personally made the transition from a college here in Vancouver to SFU, I often encountered people with a lot to say about which university meant future success. I took on the challenge to discover this for myself and my research had varying experiences, but none equaled what came of the SFU/UBC comparison.
There was no denying the evident notion around Vancouver that SFU and UBC are the “only” worthwhile choices that a transfer college student should aim for (not true). Furthermore, the idea that choosing one implied your spite for the other was a bit troubling to me.
Lots of members of the online student community further seemed to mirror this frictional relationship, but much more vehemently than I had encountered before. This is probably due to the anonymity afforded to users online. Why did an appreciation for one mean such disdain for the other?
A lot of the online discussion was littered with comments championing one university and totally annihilating the reputation of the other without a hint of objective reasoning. It was very disheartening, especially since I had (and still have) such a high regard for both institutions. Furthermore, my attitude was affected in a way to believe that SFU and UBC students are really divided.
The fact that the comments were made by enrolled students and some alumni, I was convinced at the time that there was truly a war and I had to pick sides. If not, I would have to forfeit the battle if I could not handle the burden of being associated with either institution.
In retrospect, I realize how such commentary could potentially influence decisions, perceptions and also cause a level of anxiety. Luckily for me at the time, I took the initiative to experience both campuses and attend various events before deciding. This helped me make a grounded decision in addition to the information sessions I attended.
Fast forward to my life at SFU; I slowly began realizing just how non-existent the SFU-UBC rivalry actually was among the general student population. Furthermore, as I interacted with students from UBC, the idea seemed totally laughable. I didn’t see any reason for the unnecessary slander that was occurring online. Everyone was pretty much just living their lives (You don’t say!)
Now, I am not ruling out the prospect of a healthy competitive relationship between SFU and UBC. As two of the best universities in the province, it is expected that a competitive relationship may arise. However, I feel like the ways some people go about exercising their campus pride can be rather destructive; especially online. There seems to be a need for some to validate their choices by undermining others; a highly flawed mentality which takes us nowhere as a society. Furthermore, what does it say about a population that is considered among the more “enlightened” by virtue of attending the best two universities? Are we really that petty?
Both institutions definitely have their strengths and weaknesses but I think the student community needs to take a more sustainable approach in discussing them. You never know what effects your comments may have in a larger sense. I feel like the best step forward would be to advocate for more responsible dialogue rather than a lot of the childish banter that serves no purpose. The online fantasy feud between SFU and UBC does more harm than good and propagates unfounded negativity that most students don’t even really believe in.
Personally, I believe that for an individual to be entirely pro-SFU and anti-UBC (and vice versa) is highly problematic and closed-minded. What matters is the most positive way we can foster a society of successful people as two of the best universities. By challenging one another in more constructive ways, we not only improve our own institutions but one another.
For all the outsiders that may have encountered this “feud” online, don’t fall prey to the negativity. All the noise is just that – noise. Do what’s best for you (whatever that looks like) and don’t let a keyboard warrior influence your decision. Make campus visits, talk to as many people as possible face-to-face and look within for what it is you want to accomplish. Other than that, good luck!
Featured Photo via Flickr