Shoulder your own burden


The Fine Arts referendum is for just a quarter … for now

The University of Regina is a hotbed of student apathy when it comes time to head to the polls. However, there is a referendum question this fall that should pique interest and discussion around the campus. The Fine Arts Students’ Association (FASA) has managed to place a question on the ballot asking if you support “a $0.25 fee per student to cover the cost of theatre productions for all University of Regina students."

This should raise two questions in your mind. Primarily, how is it possible that a non-Fine Arts student should have to be asked to directly pay for Fine Arts students’ education? Subsequently, what kind of precedent will this set for years to come?

Let us begin with the numbers. Given current enrolment numbers, we can derive that FASA is asking for around $3000. With 440 students in Fine Arts, if those students were to cover their own demand it would be a marginal $6.81 increase per student. Why must we all share the burden of increased performance costs or decreased Administration funding, whichever the case may be?

I have a better idea. I was recently made aware that there is no admission charged to attend any production at the university. As per the theatre department’s website, at full capacity their two theatres hold a combined total of 590 people. In the last theatre season, four plays were produced. Let’s imagine each play was seen by 590 people. If all those people paid a minimal $2 admission, FASA would raise $4720 and tuition would not need to increase one penny.

However, we wouldn’t want to burden our guests, would we? Let’s not forget the numerous shows that the Music department puts on or the galleries offered by the Visual Arts students. Clearly, there are ways to raise the needed funds without increasing the tuition of every student that isn’t being graded on their performance within the production, recital or display.

"How is it possible that a non-Fine Arts student should have to be asked to directly pay for Fine Arts students’ education? Subsequently, what kind of precedent will this set for years to come?"

Regardless of my math literacy, we should examine the potential fallout if such a disastrous referendum question passes. The first question is why was official funding cut from the program? Could it be the fact that while Business Administration had 1481 students, Arts had 2114 students and Education had 1424 students while the Faculty of Fine Arts had only 440 students enrolled last semester? Potentially.

That fact leads nicely into the next discussion point: should we subsidize under-populated faculties to ensure they don’t see an increased cost for such specialized programs? Continuing down the slippery slope that is subsidization without growth, if the Administration decides to further reduce its investment in the Fine Arts due to continued disinterest in the discipline, should we forget a referendum and simply increase our one quarter by two quarters, ten quarters or, even, one hundred quarters every year to meet the “need” of the program? After all, it is only a few quarters, right?

No. University, as much as it is around to help young minds grow and affect positive change in the world, is a stepping stone for people to gain desirable employment. By forcing the cost of a program that lost funding due to underutilization onto the entire student body is short-sighted and irresponsible. It won’t be long before we are subsidizing other faculties that have also lost the will to creatively stretch a tight budget. On Sept. 25 and 26,make a stand. Demand that the University of Regina and each faculty it governs to be fiscally responsible. Demand that your institution live within its means and that the Fine Arts faculty do the same. Do not let the dollar value fool you; do not let the financial burden fall on our shoulders. This will only be the beginning. Vote no and demand better.

Todd Blyth

1 comment

  1. Adam 27 September, 2013 at 22:22

    It’s good to see you have no effing clue what you’re taking about. Two years before I started university in the music program, the UofR had one of the best music programs in the country. By the time I got there, funding was already getting slashed. They wouldn’t hire new faculty members, and with each year our operating budget would fall to the point where we couldn’t even properly repair all our instruments.
    Why? Well, profit of course. It costs a lot more per student when you also have to pay for art supplies, theater costumes, and instrument repairs. So, if they slowly defund the programs and only hire sub-par sessionals, people drop out and go elsewhere. Why stay here when you get a higher quality program elsewhere?
    The simple fact is the faculty is faltering because people won’t support it, university staff most of all. Visual Arts got so much money for a program one year, they ran out of money before the semester even started! How can you possibly run a quality program when you are scrambling for funding from day one?
    The Fine Arts Faculty needs this funding because they are desperate. Why should students help? Because it’s 50 goddamn cents to help a program that is failing due to factors it cannot control.
    And for the record, I have never been to an event in the theatre that didn’t charge at least ten bucks a head.

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