Volume 93, Issue 28

Wednesday, October 20, 1999


Editorial Board 1999-2000

U of T dips fingers in wrong pockets

Editorial Cartoon

U of T dips fingers in wrong pockets

It appears backwards and unjustified administrative actions are not exclusive to Western.

The powers-that-be at the University of Toronto have signed a contract to build a new stadium without the foresight to assure they could cover the $9.6 million cost the deal demands.

This folly began when the school decided that the ancient Varsity Stadium needed to be replaced and went ahead with plans to build a new facility. In determining how the new stadium would be paid for, U of T's administration thought the student body at large would be willing to cover two thirds of the cost – approximately $6.4 million.

Assuming that everything could be taken care of, they went ahead and signed the contract. After committing to this venture, they proposed a $15 levy be added to student fees across the board to cover the cost of the stadium. Their wake up call came in the form of an outraged student body. Many students opposed the fee - some of whom won't be able to easily access the facility as they are not students on the main campus.

Students and administration have agreed a student referendum will be held to determine whether or not the added fee would be used to raise the $6.4 million.

The obvious question now becomes, why wasn't this referendum considered and held before the university entered into a multi-million dollar contract?

If the students do vote down the proposed fee increase, administration will be left with a $6.4 million bill, they don't know how to pay. Or so one would assume. For now the student body has objected to the move, university administrators have said if the referendum results in a "No" vote, they will go elsewhere to find the money.

U of T, a university sitting on a $1 billion endowment nest egg, tried to slip a $6.4 million bill underneath the students' noses and then, when they were caught in the act, they backed off and pleaded innocence.

Why would administration even make the proposal in the first place if they weren't prepared to stand behind the move? They simply tried to take the easy way out and got caught with their hand in students' pockets.

These kinds of practices at the top of power totem poles at major Canadian universities is becoming all too common. We trust these people to make sound decisions which pursue students' best interests, first and foremost.

But instead, the almighty dollar and the push to constantly improve at all costs, has removed the focus from what is most important. Unless universities realize what students think is more important than what MacLean's thinks, these incidents could become normal administrative practice.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999