Misleading Marketing

Student Union Building Ad Doesn’t Address Fee Levy

The construction of the Student Centre, or more appropriately, the Student Union Building, is inevitable.

It isn’t because of any claimed positives it may bring to students, or the “added value” it will bring to your degree, but because we’re already paying $2.00 per credit for it and have been since 2006.

Why is the Concordia Student Union is trying to sell me something I’m already paying for?

While the Hall building has become littered with glossy postcards and posters telling students to vote YES for the student union building, nowhere does the campaign tell us exactly what we’re voting for.

Nowhere on the cards, the website, the FAQs or the overabundance of CSU letters to the editor sent to endorse this project does it remotely imply that voting Yes means raising the fee levy by 125 per cent over the current price.

And none of the ad copy tells me what the question on the ballot is going to say.

Actually, it implies that if you don’t vote Yes to the fee-levy increase, you won’t get a student union building. You won’t get those arcade games, those comfy couches and that massage parlour. It also implies that the $6.7 million that had been pooled throughout four years wasn’t even there.

Quite simply, the building’s current advertising campaign would have been more suitable in 2006—it would have been a damn good one, too.

Publicity needs to go through the brunt of criticism. Any message that is laid out on a table for others to pick up will be diced, spliced, and dispersed to promote further understanding, discourse and different views.

But any promoter has to operate with honesty and accountability, rather than trying to push real issues out the backdoor without anyone noticing.

Avoiding the real issue—that this is a fee levy increase and not a vote on whether or not we want a student centre, or student space—is dishonest.

If, in their ad campaign, the CSU chose to promote the fee levy rather than the building itself, the student-at-large could have a discussion about why the increase is beneficial or not.

Looking at the promotional materials of this campaign, I have yet to figure out why I should want to pay $4.50 instead of $2.00—there’s been no discussion about the levy being $405 for a 90 credit student.

Today, the student-centre levy is back on the ballots for a second time in six months, and the CSU has yet to have a real discussion about why this fee levy is happening again.

I challenge the CSU to give real answers about important details like where the student center is going to be, instead of getting “it is totally reasonable to expect an answer to a question of that calibre,” like it states in the student centre website’s FAQs.

The CSU is right about one thing; when a question is asked an answer should follow.

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 14, published November 16, 2010.