In the past two weeks UTMSU has been out in force. I appreciate seeing my compatriots speaking to students. I also like seeing them campaigning so hard, but many students have asked me one simple question. Who are they fighting? Aggressive campaigning seems to become more and more the norm on this campus. But why is this campaign being fought so aggressively? There is no “no campaign”, and as a good friend of mine put it, “The U-Pass is something everyone wants; why are they spending so much money and pushing it down our throats?” (Well, it’s a bit of a paraphrase, I can’t write in his accent.)
All those yellow posters, t-shirts, and stickers have cost students up to $3,000 in the dues that we pay to the UTMSU. There are also some hidden costs associated with the U-Pass referendum. These costs include wages for poll clerks, CRO and DRO wages, the salaries of the executive committee that will be spending two weeks (one paycheque each) campaigning, coordinators producing materials,…etc. While the U-Pass is essential to student life at UTM, I believe that it should be up to students to support, not for UTMSU to force it upon students.
UTMSU received a lot of backlash from the $14,000 Drop Fees Campaign last year. By my estimation (through the numbers I have and some educated guessing), the overall cost of this “I Heart My U-Pass” campaign is roughly $10,000. I don’t claim that as fact, because as a member of the board of directors I am not allowed to see human resources issues, or so I’ve been told. I also am not a doctor or accountant or commerce student or management student, though I’ve all of those on TV.
So why is UTMSU fighting so hard to get us to vote yes? Well, it is a great service, and we’ve invested a lot of time and money into it. So it would suck to not have people vote in favour of it—I mean, UTMSU needs something to say during the next election. (I am a cynic, I know.)
But the more people that vote in favour of the U-Pass, the more the students are united. This could be one of the greatest victories for the student movement at UTM. Especially considering that we haven’t won more food diversity, lowered tuition, lowered parking fees, an expanded Student Centre, reformed OSAP, or generally increased accountability or transparency.
So please, vote in favour of the U-Pass if you think it is a great deal; don’t cave to aggressive campaign tactics. And I would ask that you think over the increases logically, and vote in favour or against based on your need. I also suggest that you come to the UTMSU AGM, at 6 p.m. on November 29 in Spigel Hall, and have your voice heard.
Please email me at [email protected] for any comments. I would love to discuss everything from the U-Pass to the library, from student media to academia, with you.