This piece in opposition to the proposed $500 Commerce fee was written by Adrian Pape, an undergraduate student in commerce.

The point to this counterpoint can be found here.

Problems with the CUS Referendum

1. “Building fee” or “student fee”: call it what you want, this fee has already been rejected by the provincial government. The previous fee was rejected because it was considered a tuition increase (which is capped at 2%). UVic held a referendum last October on “a new athletics and recreation building fee” that passed, but was also rejected. This falls under the tuition category. These fees are capped. We shouldn’t be trying to sneak around that issue. N.B.: They were voting on an Athletics and Recreating building – we’re voting on an academic building – our classrooms.

2. These student fees have been described as paying for a $20M dollar mortgage, including interest and principal payments; however, as they increase with inflation, any additional money will be put towards “updating and renovating the building”. Basically, the administration would be allowed to create a pool of money that they could use without having to come back to students and hold another referendum to hear their opinion. Students need to understand they are voting on this as well.

3. A decision of this magnitude needs careful consideration. We’re talking about more than $20 million dollars here. Some financial models put this figure between $36 and $49 million. Regardless of its size – we are business students. Learning how to carefully analyze a decision from all angles is the whole point of coming to this faculty. Will all 2,700 members of our student body spend enough time performing due diligence to merit making a decision for the future 30,000 students who will be affected by the fee? In a mere 10 days? There are only 5 left!

Or will impressionable 1st and 2nd years hear only what the Dean and the CUS Board of Directors are saying and question no further? Will 3rd and 4th years simply vote yes because they don’t have to pay this fee – so who cares? IF there was an opt-out clause, would other 3rd and 4th years believe in the building, and vote yes now to remove the threat of future generations not feeling the same way?

4. An opt-out clause would give the future generations a voice. Every year they would be allowed to weigh the pros and cons of the new building and decide whether to support it or not. And let’s be serious – for many students, it would be a decision their parents would make. About three quarters of students applying to Sauder are from the GVA and are most likely in a position where they can afford tuition. But there will always be some students on the cusp – it might be the cusp between UBC and SFU or BCIT, or even between Commerce and other faculties with lower tuition (not saying one is better than the other). Other students will choose UBC Commerce regardless, but will sacrifice their extracurriculars because of the fee and possibly have to pick up a part-time job.

Many believe the opt-out structure wouldn’t work because everyone would opt-out and the funds would never get raised. As I’ve describe before, there are many factors involved and it would come down to a difference in opinion and values. If we start with an opt-out clause and it doesn’t work, we could hold another referendum to make the fee mandatory and reconsider the issue again. On the contrary, if we start with a mandatory fee, it will be very difficult to add the opt-out clause afterwards.

If students opted-out, should they be banned from their own classrooms? No.

5. Many people believe the accreditation of the school is at risk. Yes, it’s true the accrediting bodies have pointed towards our building and told us to create a learning environment more conducive to teaching top business school students. My feeling is that the progress made to date has been fantastic, and a slight delay in plans will not result in us losing our accreditation entirely – we are in a recession and people understand that. If we are facing funding issues, there is a good reason for it.

6. Accreditation also brings up the question of value for money. Will a shiny new room with the latest technology change the way professors teach and the content they are trying to get you to learn? Could this $20M+ be spent better elsewhere? Furthermore, could we isolate the student social space from the rest of the project and only pay for our lounges and conference rooms? Should classrooms be a part of this fee?


2 Comments so far

  1. Keith on March 8, 2010 10:42 am

    The idea of an opt-out just can’t work. It’s a mortgage, and once it’s started it has to be paid every year. What happens if in 2018 students decide not to pay? The school doesn’t make its mortgage payment? The building gets reposessed? Hardly. The mortgage will have to be paid, and they’ll have to cut services to do it. That means fewer Profs and fewer modules.

  2. anonymous on March 10, 2010 11:36 pm

    I’m voting no! The way the Dean and his presenters presented the referendum was done very in a very biased manner without presenting the opposite point on view and almost threatening students with fear that their degrees were at stake. I came to Sauder because I wanted to go to Sauder not Ivy or any other institution. I’m not voting yes for 500 a year for 35 years!!

Name (required)

Email (required)


Speak your mind

Spam prevention powered by Akismet