Our campus radio station CJSW 90.9 is pursuing a referendum asking to increase their student levy from $5.00 to $6.00. Before everyone panics, let’s reconsider how much an additional dollar per semester is actually going to affect us.
The “no” campaign for the CJSW referendum, started in opposition to the proposed levy, has frequently brought up the fact that the majority of CJSW’s listeners are not University of Calgary students. That argument, however, fundamentally misses the point of CJSW and of campus culture in general.
Campus radio contributes to a student-oriented experience at the U of C. While the “no” campaign might like to see “a person in a room with a mic in front of them,” that’s not how you build community or help students gain new experiences. CJSW has done both.
Student fees exist in order for us to allocate them to organizations that improve life on campus for various groups. That’s how we breathe life into a campus and make it more than a degree mill. It seems like the “no” campaign would like campus services to operate on a user-fee basis. Put in a dollar, gain access to the Q Centre. Put in a dollar, use the Lost and Found.
First of all, paying for services only when you want to access them is a libertarian dystopic fantasy, not a sustainable way of supporting student services. We pay fees so campus services are open to everyone who wants to access them. Balanced amounts of consistent funding to non-profit organizations is what enables them to consistently provide high-quality services.
Funding CJSW means providing valuable training to students in a variety of areas. Podcasting and web development are useful skills even if you or I currently have no interest in learning about them right now. Since CJSW is offering training in these areas and students are interested — CJSW consistently maintains a volunteer base of around 200 — we should provide them with support to improve both our community and school.
Communities, from local workplaces to federal governments, cannot thrive by only creating opportunities for areas of immediate or popular interest. Everyone who attends the U of C is an individual with specific talents and goals, but students need to realize that organizations cannot exist through funding based on individual desire. Refusing to pay one extra dollar to support our radio station because “you don’t listen to it” is absurd. We must support that which contributes to the community as a whole.
The U of C provides many services paid for by students, and not everyone is going to access every single one of them. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be paying for them. Students should be willing to pay for campus services that increase the quality of life for others on campus. I don’t pay each time I use the Taylor Family Digital Library, or the prayer rooms or the French Centre. Nor have I stepped foot in the law library or the Native Centre, but I’m happy to contribute my share to the students who use these resources. CJSW has a mandate from the campus and from the community at large, and the radio station is professional and well run. Do not discount the positive work they’ve poured into the U of C community.
Part of living in a community means respecting and understanding the activities and services that your fellow students find important and meaningful in their lives, and backing that understanding of what a community really is with funding. Simply put, it’s foolish to assume that our personal needs on campus will match everyone else’s, and it’s selfish to vote that way.
CJSW has always made an investment in the wider culture and community of this university, and I think it’s time we returned on that investment.