[ Referendum


By Paul G. Allvin
Via email
November 11, 1997

A few points of reality are in order in response to Gilbert's message to students:

  • Regarding the student fee board - Students are told that with the fee will come a student fee advisory board. This is either an empty offer or a trick offer. It's an empty offer if the fee imposed as a result of a referendum will be used only for construction, because all the collections will be sent directly to defray construction costs. In that scenario there's no discretionary authority for the student fee board to exercise. On the other hand, it's a trick offer if a portion of the money is to be used for programming, because students currently don't have to pay for this programming. And what of the fee after 25 years, when the cost of construction presumably is paid off? Will students still pay for the programming portion of the fee, or will those programs be discontinued? You can bet your bottom tuition dollar that these costs won't be absorbed by the university.
  • Regarding supporting a fee, but not necessarily the $80 fee - Come on. Gilbert wants fight for all possible funding alternatives, but he wants to have the referendum in his back pocket in case no other options work out. He's creating a self-fulfilling prophesy that will result in the fee being imposed. Were I an administrator, I'd never offer up a compromise, knowing full well that at the end of the day students would have already given their consent to be charged the fee. And though no dollar amount may be specified in the referendum, everyone in the debate knows that, given the scope of the project (approximately $64 million), it will take 33,000 students 25 years at $80 per year apiece to cover that fee (33,000 X 80 X 25 = $66,000,000). The math is quite incontrovertable. Having students vote for the fee, then commencing negotiations with the administration, only guarantees the students will lose. It's like walking onto a car lot, telling the salesman you're ultimately willing to pay $20,000 for a car, then asking him to sell the car to you for $12,000. Think of it, students: Gilbert Davidson is your elected liaison to the administration, and this is the best strategy he can summon on your behalf? You need to take the negotiating out of his hands and into your own. Do not let this referendum pass.
Paul Allvin
Curmudgeon, Class of '93