June 9, 2014
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Why I voted no in the ARF plebiscite

Adam Pinkoski
Gateway Staff
Mar 12, 2014

If somebody asked me two weeks ago whether or not I would be voting yes or no on the proposed Athletics and Recreation fee increase, my response would have been a resounding yes. But after seeing the campaign put forward by the Athletics Department, and the speeches made at the public forums, I had no choice but to rescind my vote and tick off the electronic bubble that the majority of voters aptly chose to tick off as well.

The Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation’s Athletics Department put forth a disappointingly weak campaign for something that could actually bring some much-needed change to campus health, wellness and life. Unfortunately, their lackadaisical approach to “educate the students” was basically just them insinuating that they didn’t care about this issue, so why should students? After the Myer Horowitz forum, I was beginning to think they were hired by their opposition in order to skew the ballot in favour of voting the fee down.

The approach taken by Athletics indicated they didn’t want students to know where their money was actually going. Financial problems at the university aren’t as bad as they were a year ago, but ask anyone what they learned from the initial budget cuts and they’ll tell you they want to know specifically what their money is funding. When The Gateway talked to the dean of Phys. Ed. and Rec, they told us that there would be more money being poured into Athletics as opposed to Recreation Services, due to the “quite serious deficits” that Athletics was running.

But any time the fee was brought up at the Students’ Union forums during the past few weeks, I would hear almost the exact opposite from those purporting to represent the side of Athletics, and Curtis Dell — a quarterback on the Golden Bears football team and part of the group advocating to increase the fee — kept stating at forums that he and the “vote yes” campaign were there to educate the students. But these discrepancies between the information given by the campaign, and that given to students by the dean and even the SU, gave off the impression that those who were allegedly there to “educate voters” were the ones who needed educating.

On that note, I don’t know how many times I heard the phrase “We’re here to educate voters” at the forums and on the “yes” group’s official Facebook page. Ultimately, the more they tried to educate me, the more uneducated I felt. The only consistency regarding the fee I got from more than one of the interest parties was the inconsistency in reasons to vote yes.

The vote yes Facebook page said time and time again, “We are not here to sway your vote.” It was hard to take that statement seriously, as it was shrouded in at least six different bold letterings of “vote yes.” The page also had no mention of any valid cons if the fee was voted through, and when there’s that much money on the line, there’s bound to be at least a few, like the fact that if the fee passed, regular students would see their costs go up.

At first, I was completely in favour of voting yes for the increase. On the surface, the benefits like free games for students and a freeze on user fees for Rec Services seemed enticing enough to pay an extra $32 a year. But after seeing all the conflicting stories in the build up to the vote, I realized I didn’t want to be funding something — in this case the Faculty of Phys. Ed and Rec and Athletics Department — that doesn’t actually seem to want me to know where my money is going. The university is a business, and as such, money has to be accounted for. If those pushing for fee increases can’t even agree with each other and put forward a cohesive message as to how and where my tuition dollars are being spent, then it’s only reasonable for me to say thank you very much, but no thank you. I respectfully decline.



Comments

I also voted no, but because of the sneaky hidden agenda. At the forum the representative said the fee would “absolutely not go to teams” and instead would “benefit the students.” Yet I stumbled upon whining from athletes on Facebook, saying that we all should vote yes, or else they would lose coaches and equipment.

Can’t have it both ways.



Posted by The 56% on Mar 12, 2014

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