A video of books being tossed into a dumpster outside of the Student Union Building circulated online on Sept. 13, following the University of New Brunswick Student Union-hosted bi-annual Book Buy and Sell event.
Mark Symons, a fourth-year history major at UNB, posted the video on Facebook.
“It just struck me as something completely out of the ordinary, that shouldn’t be done,” said Symons.
Although he hasn’t been approached to take down the video, he heard that people wanted him to remove it.
“I know that the question was at least floated by certain members of the student union [that] maybe I should take the post down, and obviously I wasn’t interested in doing that,” he said.
As of Sept. 23, the post had 107 comments and 771 shares.
UNBSU released a statement on Facebook, claiming the books that were tossed were damaged from a flood that happened in July.
“I’m not saying I don’t believe them, but I find their story lacking. If these books were water damaged from the pipe burst … I find it rather suspicious they took [months] to throw those books out, conveniently the day after the Book Buy and Sell was over,” said Symons.
The student union also said many books were stored in their offices for up to 10 years.
Jesse Reid, a UNB alumnus and former member of the student union, was involved with the Book, Buy and Sell event from 2012 to 2016. He was a volunteer for his first four years, and organized it as vice-president internal during the 2015-16 academic year.
According to Reid, the student union cleaned out nearly all of the books in storage during his involvement. Some books were sold at the event, but the remainder went to used book organizations and some were shipped to other countries.
“We really got rid of a lot of them,” he said.
They also sold books for a discounted price while he was involved — challenging UNBSU’s claim this was the first year they’ve done so.
“I wasn’t really going to comment or anything, and when they posted their response. They didn’t apologize,” he said. “It just kind of rubbed me the wrong way.”
Kaitlyn Delarosbil, a fifth-year student at UNB, questions the accuracy of the statement UNBSU released on Facebook.
“UNBSU has backed themselves into a corner with a story that doesn’t quite add up. They are ignoring valid questions that students are asking,” she said in a Facebook message.
Delarosbil doesn’t believe all of the books thrown away were subject to the flood. She said those she saw in the video didn’t appear to be damaged.
“The books are not discoloured and the pages aren’t curled. There also seems to be no appearance of mold,” she said. “At the very least, there should have been some effort to recycle the books.”
According to Simal Qureshi, vice president advocacy of the UNB student union, books that were slightly damaged were discounted at $10 or less, some even being given away for free. All books that were dropped off to the event this year are being stored in a different place and can be picked up by those who are interested.
“We regret that this photo has been misinterpreted. Fortunately, it has drawn attention to the issue – that the cost of textbooks presents a financial strain for university students across the country,” Qureshi said in an email to The Aquinian.
“That’s a conversation we are eager to have at all levels, particularly through advocacy work at an internal and external level.”