Letter: Student members of the Outdoor program opposed to postponement
The student staff members of the EMU Outdoor Program oppose ASUO President Ben Eckstein’s decision to remove the EMU renovation from the November referendum ballot, and we demand that the EMU vote be reinstated. The decision to deny students a vote in the process was rushed, shortsighted, and was made without the consultation of many student groups. Facts have been misconstrued and personal opinion has taken precedence over the rights of students. By removing the EMU renovation from the ballot, Eckstein is silencing students’ voices at a time when they need to be heard most.
Many concerns are voiced in the press release issued by the ASUO Executive, but when examined closely they simply don’t hold weight. The letter brings up the possibility of mid-year tuition increases, but there is absolutely no proof that such unprecedented increases are being considered. Eckstein also seems concerned about a lack of student control over the renovation projects. We are proud to place our trust in the long-standing process of EMU space allocation, which is overseen by students on the EMU Board. Many students, including those within the Outdoor Program, have spent countless hours informing the campus community about the upcoming referendum. The negative reactions to Ben’s decision from Club Sports, the Craft Center, the SRC Advisory Board and the EMU Board among others, illustrate this point well. For him to postpone the vote only discredits our work and slows the momentum the promotional efforts have achieved for both of these projects. Students have been anticipating this vote since last spring. Members of our staff have attended numerous events related to the referendum. At town halls, forums, and open houses we have asked very critical questions about the process, and we were strongly anticipating the opportunity to be able to vote on the project.
Eckstein fails to mention the huge financial impact a delayed vote would have on this very time-sensitive project. To delay the process 12-18 months would mean millions of dollars lost to inflation and rising construction costs, and millions more to keep our architects on retainer for that length of time. What is of further concern is Eckstein’s decision to postpone only the EMU portion of the vote. If he feels students aren’t able to weigh in yet on the EMU, then why would we be they ready to vote on the Student Recreation Center? These two projects are part of the same process, and splitting them apart makes little sense.
The basic bond of trust between students and our representatives in the ASUO has been broken. By taking away our right to vote on the EMU renovation, Ben Eckstein has silenced the voices of the students on this campus. In the last sentence of his published letter, he states “…it is your student union, your money, and your choice.” Then why not let us decide? While we acknowledge that Ben is entitled to his own opinion on these projects, we remind him that as an elected official he must speak for the entire student body, not just himself. President Eckstein, we implore you to reinstate the EMU vote, with the original language, on the agreed upon dates, and let students decide.
Student Employees of the Outdoor Program
and 8 others
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