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Update – renovation passes. Student letter protests EMU process

Update: The EMU renovation has passed the OUS board. Hilariously, “Around the O” doesn’t report this qualification:

“Approved adding to the OUS 2013-2015 Capital request a total of $84.3 million in Article XI-F(1) bonds to renovate and expand the Erb Memorial Union at the University of Oregon, subject to satisfactory resolution of a student’s grievance related to the validity of the student referendum.”

But sharp-eyed ODE reporter  Kirah Ingram does. Anyone got the roll call?

My take? The new EMU will be great. And the corrupt process, which included using student money to manipulate students into voting to tax themselves, is an unexpected if expensive bonus to the political education of our UO student leaders.

For the historically minded, here’s the post that broke the news on the administration’s attempt to slide this through over the summer when the students were gone, here are some of the Holmes/Gottfredson emails, and here’s the whole thread with many posts, links to many news stories, and hundreds of comments.

1/11/13. They’re not against the building, or the bonds, they’re just pro-democracy. That idea will be crushed when the board votes today. Robin Holmes and the JH election manipulators will teach our idealistic students how government really functions. Dave Hubin had his finger in this too.

To Members of the Oregon State Board of Higher Education,
We, the undersigned student leaders of the University of Oregon, would like to respectfully urge you not to include the EMU renovation and expansion proposal in your upcoming budget.
This proposal was voted down twice because students thought the cost was too high. The first time, it was $65 per term, and the second was $100. The fact that the $69 number was approved by record-low turnout compared to the other two elections should show that student opinion has not changed. Instead, the students to whom ASUO President Hinman’s administration chose to outreach were hand-picked in an attempt to push the new fee onto students. 
Additionally, while the students involved in the ASUO’s outreach claim that they did so in an unbiased way, it is clear from their talking points, handouts, and website that they were trying to encourage students to vote yes. One student reported an announcement in their class where the ASUO representative told all students to “vote for” the referendum. Talking points included the “need to renovate,” how we have “outgrown our current space” and half-truths about how the renovation would make the EMU more sustainable, despite the fact that UO policies would allow the administration to use the student-financed reductions to offset increases from burgeoning athletic facilities, like the rumored new golf course. There is no mention in any of these talking points the rising cost of higher education, the students for whom this fee may be the deciding factor in being able to afford UO, or the corrupt actions of the EMU Task Force in using student money to pay RBI, a private firm, to politicise the issue and force the new fee onto students.
Lastly, it is clear that the University of Oregon intended to run this vote over and over again until administration finally got the result they wanted. This, more than anything, shows that they only care about their own agenda, and that the renovation, which was voted down twice previously, is not in the best interest of students.
For all of these reasons, we urge you to vote down the renovation proposal in its current form. A neutral student vote should be implemented and the UO Administration must be willing to work with students in a meaningful way. Only then will we be certain that we can produce an alternative proposal which will satisfy the needs of the student body in an affordable manner.
Joanna Stewart, Women’s Center Public Relations Coordinator
Andrew Rogers, 2011-2012 ASUO Communications Director
Sophie Luthin, 2011-2012 ASUO Environmental Advocate
Michael Reeves, 2011-2012 EMU Board Member
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