Tuesday, March 24, 2009

by a vote of 2,415 to 2,158

Dear Sirs,

I request that you deny the student athletic fee increase at Utah State University on the basis of an unfairly biased election process.

Read this and tell me it's not biased. This is what appeared on the ballot.
New Fee for Intercollegiate Athletics Program
This $65 student fee increase allows students to: Assist in securing Aggie Athletics membership in the WAC and NCAA division 1A now and into the future. Continued free admission to Men’s basketball games. Students are guaranteed 39% of the Men’s basketball seating in the Spectrum. Assist in stabilizing the annual budget, sustaining successful sports programs and improving others. Continued free admission to Football games. Students are guaranteed 25% of the football seats in Romney Stadium. Continued free admission to all other intercollegiate sporting events. (These percentages are among the highest in the nation and your benefit is valued at between $730 -$1,520 per year). Continued opportunities to purchase married student discounts for spouse. Enrich the quality of student life by maintaining successful athletics at USU. I agree with this proposed student fees increase of $65 per semester.
The university took an active role in promoting this fee increase.
  • HURD and ASUSU members, as well as student athletes, were told to campaign for it.
  • The university website encouraged students to “Vote for the New Student Fee for Intercollegiate Athletics Program.”
  • The referendum was held a week after regular student elections, so fewer votes would be cast and stacking the ballot box would be easier.
  • Nearly all grassroots posters and fliers urging students to "vote no" were systematically removed and thrown in the trash.
This doesn't just upset me because of the $65 fee increase. It makes me question the integrity of the institution to which I belong. Even if you were for the fee increase, these revelations should give you pause. If it is now Utah State University policy to strong-arm the democratic process, rather than remaining appropriately neutral, what can we expect from future elections? And what suspicious deeds have they already done? Who oversaw the vote counting and reporting? These are questions I never expected I'd have to ask of this institution of higher learning.

Thank you,

Thad Gillespie
Graduate Student,
Mechanical Engineering

I just sent this letter to the Board of Regents, who will decide on Thursday or Friday whether to approve the fee increase. If you would like to send such a letter yourself, and you live in Cache Valley, email Teresa Theurer. If you live elsewhere in the state, check this site for contact procedures.


Hosander said...

Way to go thad! stick it to the man!

Bus Gillespie said...

Political activism, I'm so proud.
Of course they are for an increase because an increase in any program means an overall increase in the school budget simply because that's one more thing they will have to fund less.
Do you have to pay the activity fee? That sounds a bit unconstitutional, I know at the high school level kids could opt out of paying the activity fee but then had to pay for each game or activity they attended.

Thaddeus said...

I don't think there is any option here. Don't pay your fees and you don't get to use any of the student services (computer labs, field house, sporting events, etc.)

Thaddeus said...

I just checked with Sam. If you don't pay your fees they won't reveal your grades and will withhold your graduation until you pay up.

Jinx said...

I'm kinda with Bus on this one. Of course they're going to be pushing it. This isn't a student council election or a decision on what color Big Blue's shoe laces should be (I - personally - think he should wear velcro). The school wants the money and is petitioning the students to pay up.

My problem with this is that it's a RIDICULOUS thing to vote on in the first place. If the program needs the money (which they do) and if the school's funding from the state is being decreased (which it is), then they're going to get their money from SOMEWHERE. If not via fees, they'd just raise tuition again to fund it. Bringing it to a student vote seems like a lame play at getting the students to complain less about an increase which is going to come regardless.

All that said, however, I'm always happy to see Thad's name in print. Good job!!