I write today after reading the disappointing news regarding the Board of Regents’ recent approval of the University unions and recreational space overhaul; not because I disapprove of the renovations — they truly do need the upgrades — but because of the methods used to support and institute such a plan.

This plan institutes a $65-dollar fee each term on students to support this massive expenditure. For many students, this probably isn’t that significant of a rise in tuition, but for others, $130 a year is substantial, especially when we don’t yet know the details on whether all students will benefit from their payments — early graduation, etc. It’s disappointing to see an administration that consistently speaks out about trying to lower tuition costs, especially during campaigns, approve such a measure.

But how did they come to such a decision? One of the factors cited by many was the support of the University’s student governments. It is easy to understand why the administration looked to this group since they allegedly “represent” campus, but it’s also a very questionable move to claim student support when student turnout to elect these officials has been consistently labeled around or below 10 percent in recent years. We complain about poor turnout in presidential and congressional elections, but the horrible turnout seen on our own campus for a government that “represents” us is even worse. Citing these groups as an example of student support is highly suspect, especially when students have consistently supported lower, not high tuition.

And even if it can somehow be shown that the student government is a group that represents the views of the students, why should their viewpoint be trusted? Even during my time on campus, I have read articles describing the student government’s wasteful spending on faulty websites, witnessed them spending money to hand out things such as t-shirts, wristbands and beads, and read about how they spend meeting time dedicated to issues regarding Israel and Rich Rodriguez’s coaching tenure at Michigan. If the student government truly wanted these renovations so badly, why didn’t they offer to use some of their “own” money (gathered through other student fees) to finance this project? If the regents wanted responsible advice from students, the student government should be one of the last groups to ask.

There’s no easy answer to acquire the views of every student on campus, but before the regents decide to go against something they campaigned for — lower tuition — they need to find a better way to engage the student base than the current ineffective student government. Why not a full campus vote on this particular topic? In a recent election, the student government themselves attempted to raise tuition by increasing the student government fee for students. This proposal was voted down, though this fee was significantly less than $130 a year. The regents and student government have lost touch with the students and have now opted for a negative tuition increase to finance something at best has suspect student support.

Thomas Beindit
LSA senior

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