09 December 2017

Unions and Tuition

Having worked in student life at both US and Canadian schools, one thing that has long bothered me is how much administration and bureaucracy plagues student affairs at American institutions of higher learning.

At McGill, the student union was run... by STUDENTS. It was a true student union, not a legion of university officials policing what student orgs could and could not do on our campus. The Students' Society of McGill University leased its union from the university, voted to rename it the William Shatner Student Center (much to the chagrin of McGill officials), oversaw operations/maintenance, financed itself via levies for which it campaigned and collected from students' fees, funded organizations, set event guidelines, enforced alcohol policies, ran its own food services and its own bar, etc.

Contrast this to Wright State, who hamstrung its student orgs by enforcing onerous event planning rules, mandating unaffordable security measures, granting precious STUDENT union space to faculty departments, forcing orgs to pay for Sodexho catering at a hefty premium over local businesses, and prohibiting alcohol for "liability reasons." All while permitting carte blanche for faculty departments that weren't beholden to the same scrutiny as student orgs.

Imagine how much savings is possible in American universities by returning student unions to the students, and empowering student governments to exercise direct ownership/control over student unions, rather than merely serving as advisory boards to university administrations that don't trust students enough to run our own unions.