Grad, professional students object to fees

Undergraduate leadership, such as MSA, does not represent grad and professional students.

As the outgoing and incoming leadership of the Council of Graduate Students, the governing body of nearly 10,000 graduate students at the University, we’d like to address the issue of the proposed on-campus football stadium. Our organization has taken a strong stance on the use of student fees/funding for the stadium that we feel has gone largely unacknowledged by the University community.

Last fall, the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly passed a resolution stating that fees must be used only as a last resort, and that graduate and professional students must have a say in the amount of the fee and how it is used. This semester, the Council of Graduate Students passed a resolution that took this reasoning one step further, “vehemently opposing” the use of student fees for the stadium.

To further clarify our position, we are not in any way opposed to an on-campus stadium for the Gophers; our issue is with how this stadium comes to be. We do not see how the administration, in light of double-digit tuition increases, decreased support for graduate assistants – including health care and wage freezes – and the general financial crisis that has affected us all, can ask students to bear the financial burden for a recreational facility.

We are especially concerned because the benefits of the stadium as proposed, tangible and intangible, do not stand to address these problems, nor do they relate to the graduate and professional student experience. Furthermore, the administration has yet to make the case to graduate and professional students about how this stadium will benefit the academic mission of the University, something we take quite seriously as future researchers and educators.

We’d like to further remind the University community that the undergraduate leaderships’ positions on the stadium, including the Minnesota Student Association’s recent resolution, do not represent the opinions of graduate and professional students. We represent 30 percent of the student body of this campus, and have very different interests, needs and constraints than undergraduates. Despite this, we recognize that we are part of the same community, and every voice should be heard. It is important as we move forward on this and other University issues that the position taken by undergraduate leadership not be interpreted as the mandate of all students.

For those of us who take to heart the University’s mission of quality education and research and public outreach, the situation in which the University has found itself is deeply disconcerting. However, a difficult position for the University will not be helped by making things more difficult for its students. Many graduate students have a tough time making ends meet, and a fee for this stadium represents a threat to our economic well-being.

It is with this in mind, and the reasons above, that we affirm our belief that student financing should not be on the table when considering means of funding an on-campus stadium.

Chris Pappas is president and Britt Johnson is president-elect of the Council of Graduate Students. Send comments to [email protected]