Why I’m Voting “No”
By now, every student on campus has most likely been exposed to the “Vote Yes!” campaign to expand the Student Center. It’s a beautifully designed campaign (I’m a sucker for Legos) with a powerful message: Vote “Yes!” to build a better Tech! When you actually go to vote, the description of the bill in question states that, if passed, students will be charged up to an extra $85 on their student fees at the time of the Student Center’s grand opening. It seems simple enough, and with every member of the student governing body pushing for a “Yes!” vote, the issues inherent in the campaign and the bill itself aren’t immediately evident.
As of late, most of the social media posts pushed by the Student Center have linked students directly to the voting page, and away from the project information page that contains all of the project details to date. Here, students would find the Project FAQs Page, which is a lot larger than the two paragraph description of the bill presented on the voting page. We see that “50% of the project cost will be paid for through a mandatory student building fee,” and that the project “has a current cost estimate of $100 million.” This means that a “Yes!” vote for the bill means Georgia Tech students will be shelling out a total of around $50 million dollars to build the new facility. We also see that “at this time … no design details have been confirmed.” Another document proposes potential services the new facility could offer, presenting such gems as “a place to try something new” and “a place that never sleeps.” But with no floorplan and no promises of specific services the new student center would offer, this bill entails a hike in fees with no concept of what exactly those fees are buying.
Further on in the FAQs is the approximated timeline of the project. The Grand Opening of the student center is estimated to occur in the Fall of 2021, meaning that the current Freshman class won’t even be around to see the building’s opening. But the mandatory student fee only goes into place when the building has opened, right? Most students voting on this project will never have to actually pay the fee, meaning that we’re shackling the future students of Georgia Tech with a mandatory fee that we will never have to pay, nor of which we will ever see the benefits. The bill also does not include a stipulation for when the mandatory fee would be removed, meaning students could indefinitely pay an extra $85 for the privilege of having a student center.
In summation, the campaign pushed by the Student Government is a proposal for current Tech students to raise the cost of attendance for future students with a mandatory fee that has the potential to be tacked onto the price tag of a Tech education indefinitely. Furthermore, with a lack of design plans and vague potential facilities like “a place with the hottest technology to play with” and “a place to be ourselves” means that we don’t even know what we’re paying for. As the FAQ page says, “It isn’t often that students have the opportunity to weigh in on a mandatory fee, especially one that could have such a significant impact on campus life at Georgia Tech.” We do deserve a better student center. We also deserve a better proposal. Which is exactly why I’m voting “No.”