Okay, I've just got to write about this, to get it out of my system.
A little while ago Brock University hosted a student driven referendum to "improve student life" on campus. Being abroad, I was naturally a little out of the loop, but due to the help of my friends was soon able to catch up.
Now before I say anything else, let me just state that the referendum successfully passed with just over 50 percent of the vote so it's going to happen; there's no changing that. I'm not writing this because I'm bitter about that - if 4000 students wanted it, great. I'm one of the ones who didn't, but that's okay too because we lost. I'm writing about it to express my frustrations with the process, and hopefully if we document history, it won't repeat itself.
Each student of Brock University on top of all their other ancillary and tuition fees, is now required to pay a 20 dollar per credit "student life" fee. For many undergraduate students, that's a 100 dollar per-year fee.
It is split into three categories: Athletics, Recreation and Mental Health.
Each of these has three separate allocated percentages of the funding - almost 1.5 million Canadian dollars. These allocations are in fact bound by law; however the pro-campaign team provided us with a further (though no less vague) breakdown which they promise to enforce - despite having no legal authority to).
My Problems with the Campaign Team
Never before have I felt like Brock University was a high school until this point. The amount of disrespect I and my fellow nay-sayers received from official campaign team members was baffling. My international exchange was brought up as a negative by several of my own friends, stating that I had "no right" to comment on the goings-on of the school, since I was now apparently not apart of it.
Let the record show that I've stayed intensively connected to my university through numerous volunteer projects and correspondence.
This team refused to answer straight-forward questions about breakdown of prices, financial transparency, and basic mental health knowledge. Amongst my favourite responses to our questions were the following:
- Being accused of not going to the gym, ergo not having a say
This team made the minimal amount of information available online - and repeatedly told students if they wanted information, they should come by the table and speak. At that point, I commented along the lines of "not all students are available to come down to the table" hoping to encompass exchange students, co-op students, those with accessibility difficulties or issues with being confronted. The response I got was a personal attack on how if I had time to "troll around on Facebook for hours" than I should have time to come back to the table. I let the poster know of my situation, and that many others were in a similar one than me. It was met with no response, not an apology or otherwise.
Summary, because I'm getting frustrated even thinking about it:
Let's just skip everything, and come to the realization of what this referendum actually was: Money for Athletics and Recreation.
- It's vocal supporters were students involved heavily in athletic programs, and recreation.
- It's vocal oppressors were students involved heavily in on-campus mental health support mediums.
The promise of increased mental health support on our campus was used to increase the amount of votes it got, and shame those who voted against it into somehow condemning mental health awareness. Yes promoters knew nothing of already-existing on campus mental health services, and knew of no direct ways to improve them.
I actually felt bullied by members of the yes side. At this point I almost fear returning to my university because of the recognizability of my name, and how vocal I was oppressing it.
Anyways, I just wanted to get my feelings out there. I hope that something good comes out of this referendum, I really do, but I doubt it's going to be the things that some people promised.