For the past three years, I have been a member of the Boston University Student Union. During that time I have watched as we have consistently been attacked and criticized and I have never once said anything. In fact, more times than not, we have deserved the criticism. However, enough is enough. Isn’t it time to move on? While ostensibly Mr. Merrill’s main gripe in his column on Monday is the cost of coffee on campus (I think), he manages to criticize the Student Union for the increase in the Undergraduate Student Fee. What surprises me is that while tuition has increased 4% for next year, Mr. Merrill appears to be most concerned that his $1 that goes to the Student Union will be wasted–he doesn’t pause to question where or how the rest of his money will be spent. Additionally, the Undergraduate Student Fee has been steadily increasing for years, yet this is the first time that even a fraction of it is being directly redistributed to students. Shouldn’t that fact also be a cause for concern? Mr. Merrill complains that the Student Union does not need or deserve the extra dollar per student increase in our budget since we have failed to do anything productive with our money in the past. He suggests that instead the money should go to other student groups who have (arguably) more worthwhile causes. I couldn’t agree more. However, before we allocate each of the 300 or so student groups on campus their extra $50 each ($1 from approximately 15,000 students divided by 300 student groups equals only a $50 per group increase in funding), as Mr. Merrill would have us do, he should be aware that the Student Union allocates money through the Student Union Allocations Board to these very same campus organizations. Also, every week the Senate and Executive Board use money out of our own account to help fund student groups so that they can put on their events. So you see, by the Student Union getting more money, we are in fact helping these same groups that Mr. Merrill is so concerned about. He goes on to argue that the only thing we have spent money on so far this year are the BUnited pins. Sorry again, Mr Merrill, but those pins were partially paid for by the Student Activities Office, and I can assure you that they are not the only things we have spent money on. However, since you are obviously concerned, I invite you to ask us questions about where the money you claim we have been “throwing away” has really been going. I think that you might be surprised (did you know that the Student Union pays for the Crystal buses that take you back and forth to class every day?). However, out of respect to those who are using this money for worthwhile causes, I highly recommend that you get accurate information before making snide comments about what we do. As for the “mundane events” that we at the Student Union are constantly throwing our money away on (and then patting ourselves on the back), my question to Mr. Merrill is, if you don’t like our ideas what would you suggest? If you believe that you better represent the “voice” of Boston University and have a better idea of what the students want, tell us! Trust me, I know I (and everyone else in the Student Union) don’t want to waste our time every week doing things that the students don’t want. Feel free to email us at [email protected], or come to a Senate meeting and let us know what your ideas are-we meet every Monday night at 8pm and would love to hear your perspective. If you feel uncomfortable coming to a meeting, stop by the Student Union office in the basement of the GSU. On any given day there are typically a group of us there—tell us what you think we should be spending your money on—we’d love to hear it. Finally, I look forward to your column next week—perhaps you will take that opportunity to enlighten us as to what you think we should be spending our (your) money on. However, until you take an active role in deciding where your money goes and how it is spent, I would appreciate it if you refrain from criticizing those who are trying to make a difference here at Boston University.
Liz Russo Chair, Student Union Project 100 CAS ‘02