WINDSOR INDEPENDENT: VOTING YES TO SADDLE DEBT ON FUTURE STUDENTS TO FINANCE FUTURE ARENA WRONG

The Windsor Independent – Jon Liedtke
Dec. 1, 2015


Students should vote no on an unfair referendum designed to impact future students

Yet again, I’m forced to write about the University of Windsor and condemn a measure I feel will significantly decrease the value of a Windsor diploma, and by extension, my diploma.

Why can’t the University and the Students’ Association focus on measures that significantly increase the value of a student’s education and experience?

And make no mistake, while UWindsor gaining a $73-million Sport and Recreation Centre would undoubtedly increase said education and experience, slapping it onto the back of future students, without their consent, is unfair, unethical and an abuse of process; quite simply, Kafkaesque.

Not to mention, it’ll hurt the university’s ability to lure students and further guarantee a low ranking on the continually depressing Maclean’s University Rankings; for 2016 Windsor is 14 of 15 in the comprehensive category.

What future student would want to go to a school where the Students’ Association stands idly by while administration works in concert with a niche student group to increase all future student fees, willy-nilly; it’s a travesty.

In fact, it was a joke I once made while on campus while discussing the likelihood of a referendum of this type gaining enough support to move forward; now it’s a sad reality.

Take the question itself: Comprised of six separate resolutions, the question begins stating the new levy would be $125 annually, paid by all students (full-time, part-time, and graduate), enacted in the fall of 2019 or when the new facility is operational, whichever comes later, and it will increase annually 5% per year for the first seven years, which represents an astounding 35% figure, a number arguably omitted from the question to mislead voters.

But it gets better.

In 2029, when the existing Sports & Recreation capital fee expires, the new fee will absorb that amount, representing a further increase. Talk about a double-double; you’d think Tim Hortons was somehow involved.

The new fee will last for 30 years and would be used exclusively to support the LSRC capital project.

Oy vey. No wonder students keep protesting for lower tuition – I just don’t think they understand that not all of the money they’re paying goes to tuition.

Oh, and don’t forget, these students voting won’t be impacted financially by their vote; only the students of the next 30 years.

Unlike referendums of the past, such as the UWindsor Transit Windsor Bus Pass referendum – which would have added a fee to provide a bus-pass with enrollment – that referendum would have affected students voting on it, while this one does not.

Increasingly frustrating is the lack of sponsorship attached to the project, as there are numerous opportunities for corporate citizens to step forward to help reduce some of the financial burden. In fact, the “Vote Yes” side of the campaign has ostracized people who have brought this point up, themselves stating corporate sponsorship would be almost impossible if students vote no on the referendum.

Which brings us to the next point: the “Vote Yes” side has attempted to convince students that voting no on this referendum is voting no on the project overall, and that it would be impossible to build another consensus in the future to move the project forward again.

Well then so be it, that’s how democracy works. And to be clear, voting no isn’t voting against the project overall, it’s voting no against the project as it’s current presented.

If I were a current UWindsor student, I would certainly vote no on this referendum question for the reasons listed above, and for kicks, here’s the question, listed below:

Question:

  1. Be it resolved that an annual capital fee of $125.00 per student ($62.50 per term for a maximum of two terms per academic year) be levied on all members of the University of Windsor Student Alliance (UWSA), Organization of Part-Time University Students (OPUS) and the Graduate Student Society (GSS) to support the construction of a new Lancers Sport and Recreation Centre (LSRC).
  2. Be it further resolved that this fee shall be assessed commencing Fall 2019 or in the academic year that the building becomes operational, whichever comes later;
  3. Be it further resolved that the fee shall increase by an annual increment of 5% per year for the first seven (7) years only;
  4. Be it further resolved that in 2029, when the existing Sports & Recreation capital fee expires, the LSRC capital fee shall increase by the amount of that fee at that time;
  5. Be it further resolved that the term of this fee shall be 30 years;
  6. Be it further resolved that all fees generated shall be used exclusively to support the LSRC capital project.


Jon Liedtke was a co-owner and business development manager for The Windsor Independent.