Vote over, students still upset over Stroh Center

At least 4,000 students and administrators were ecstatic after the results of Friday’s referendum upholding the Undergraduate Student Government’s resolution regarding the Stroh Center, but some individuals were upset about how the process played out. ‘ According to At-Large Senatorial Candidate Andrew Fortlage, students technically were voting on a referendum not passed by USG. ‘ Due to a mistake made by not taking out the word ‘fully’ in regards to students ‘fully supporting the Stroh Center” after it was agreed upon by USG, multiple complaints were filed to the Board of Procedures and Appeals. The board acts as a third party in disagreements with USG and students as a mediator. ‘ Both USG President John Waynick and Academic Affairs Committee Chair Kevin Basch admitted fault for this mistake. ‘I dropped the ball on that, but it was a few parties that didn’t necessarily follow through,’ Basch said. ‘[There] was a bunch of people that could have caught that.’ ‘ Fortlage brought this to the board’s attention because he felt students were not voting on the proper legislation. ‘I thought it was wrong to ask students to repeal something,’ Fortlage said. ‘We voted to repeal something that was not passed yet.’ ‘ While Waynick said he would take 100 percent of the blame for the editing mistake at yesterday’s USG meeting, the president and the board thought the spirit of the vote remained intact. Waynick stood behind USG from the initial Feb. 23 vote to Friday’s referendum. ‘I’m proud of student government mirroring the percentages,’ Waynick said regarding the senate’s 67 percent vote compared to the student’s 69 percent. But the problems continued past the wording of the referendum. Some students were still upset over the University’s ‘Pro Stroh, Vote No’ stance the administration and several student organization promoted last week. But while the meaning of the slogan was not harmful, some students voting the opposite way felt they would seem to be ‘anti-Stroh’ – something which is untrue since both voting options showed support for the $36 million arena. Elyse Faulk, who is also running for an at-large senate seat, thought the administration tricked students into voting to uphold USG’s original resolution. ‘I felt the ‘Pro Stroh, Vote No’ slogan was very misinforming,’ Faulk said. ‘[The vote] had nothing to do with the Stroh Center, it had to do with the fee.’ By voting yes and potentially changing USG’s decision, Faulk felt students were almost guilted into voting the way the administration wanted them to. Marketing and Communications Director Dave Kielmeyer said while the administration had a huge stake in the Stroh Center process and wanted to educate students through something like a slogan, nothing about the statement was misleading or condescending to the alternative choice. Outside of what USG and the administration controlled, Fortlage was also upset over several online aspects. They include the fact that the referendum started 15 minutes late, not giving students the full 24 hours to vote like promised, or five days for this decision [USG candidates get five days for their elections] and the easy access to personal identification numbers. ‘ ‘I felt the voting scheme was a little bit sketchy,’ Fortlage said. ‘I don’t trust it and it kind of made me feel wrong. It didn’t feel like it was secure.’ Bill Knight, who works for institutional research and in charge of tabulating the referendum’s results, said the system was secure because similar online elections like the annual USG elections are handled in the same way. Even though Knight and his group was unbiased throughout the counting of the votes, he said the security of the system could be improved to make sure no voter acts unethical through the process, like one person taking identification numbers from a residence hall and entering them individually. ‘ While they might be displeased with the process, both Fortlage and Faulk are not going to dwell on these problems and stay in the past. ‘ Fortlage said he is happy he was part of the Coalition for USG Reform, which helped secure the referendum and achieve enough students to validate the vote -‘ making the whole process a success and the two will work on making sure situations in the future find an easier solution without having entities influencing students in what could be portrayed in a negative way. Now, after all the controversy has settled, the Stroh Center process can continue. Construction is slated to begin August, and the opening ceremony is expected to occur in Fall 2011.