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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘No’ vote a must in sham of an election

    Editorial

    It goes without saying that in any election, the side that organizes and mobilizes most effectively is nearly always assured victory.

    While the democratic process displays the appearance of public input, the will of the majority is often only the will of those who show up – which is exactly why the student union fee vote is miles from a fair election.

    To be sure, apathy in any election is no excuse. But today and tomorrow’s election – which proposes a $20 fee starting next year to be added to every student’s tuition charges – will allow a tiny cross-section of self-interested students to pass a measure that will hit every students’ wallet.

    The fee, which would increase by $10 per year before topping off at $40, would generate $1.4 million for the Arizona Student Unions for building repairs, student programs and recuperating a shrinking reserve fund.

    The signs of a flawed election are far too familiar to UA students, who in the fall saw the Student Recreation Center referendum passed in a terrible process similar to the one starting today.

    First, there’s been absolutely no unbiased information published about the fee. The union itself hosts the only Web site purported to contain “”facts”” about the fee.

    Union leaders had initially rushed to put the fee on last month’s student government ballot but were denied because there wasn’t enough time to inform the public. The delay most likely helped the union, as the special election guarantees that only interested parties vote.

    Finally, the biggest student group that would be bolstered by the fee is the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership, which supervises the 541 clubs on campus.

    That’s why it should come as no surprise that the biggest supporters of the fee are the students within CSIL. These ardent fee supporters will tell you that every student uses the union in some fashion – be it a study lounge or computer common – and that a “”no”” vote in some way endangers those aspects of the union.

    In reality, the threat of the union closing down study lounges or suddenly losing computers is implausible at best. Furthermore, current plans for technology upgrades using fee funds call for ridiculous expenditures, such as $75,000 for plasma TVs that would be used for club advertising.

    According to Dan Adams, union director, CSIL will be forced to cut back its programs and services if the union fee fails, as the center won’t be able to come up with the $1.7 million needed each year to keep running.

    The problem is, the need for funding is being obfuscated by traditional political pork barreling. According to union figures, the union fee will have generated $1.4 million by 2010. Of that total, $190,000 would be earmarked for CSIL.

    While it might sound virtuous to believe that approval of the fee bails out campus clubs, a “”yes”” vote really only cancels out the union’s current commitment to CSIL funding.

    Basically, money will change hands on paper, but the boosted funding will allow the union to focus on spending more money elsewhere while claiming to have benefited students.

    To avert another runaway election like the Rec Center referendum, students of all stripes must head to the polls today and vote “”no.””

    Opinions are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Nina Conrad, Lori Foley, Caitlin Hall, Michael Huston, Ryan Johnson and Aaron Mackey.

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