Last week, another three responses poured in to my original article concerning mandatory student levies, 2 of which were provided by levy-group members. I am thrilled that this has generated so much discussion on campus. However, I feel that these responses continue to miss the point, while becoming more defensive and personal. This issue is not personal. I know these groups are valuable, and that members work hard. I am not attacking your groups, or your integrity. I am attacking the coercive way in which your groups receive financing. I repeat: I believe it is immoral for an organization that you never signed up for, the TCSA, to charge you $750 in mandatory fees per year, that they give to private groups and organizations with various agendas, as decided by the tyranny of a 51% vote. Allow me to respond to each article in question.
Meg: It would be morally irrelevant if ALL fees were refundable: If an individual extorts you into paying them, then offers it to you back, they still aggressed against you in the first place. Plus, if you had read my first article, you would know that most fees are in fact not refundable. $51 of the $183 that supports 3rd party groups are “refundable,” while $310 out of $750 total levy dollars are refundable (including health benefits). How is that “most?” Furthermore, I agree with you that those services you mentioned are valuable. You know what else is valuable at our university? Pens and paper, for starters. Open Mics at Nada’s. Clothing is fairly important in our society. Yet somehow, these things manage to exist without a coercive levy! Perhaps, this is because such things are valuable- and because we see them as valuable, they are provided without the need for extortionist levies. The groups you mentioned would exist, supported by the people who value them, like you and me.
Caileigh: Your article exposed no “logical fallacy” in my argument; you simply substituted euphemism for reality. Although skilled with semantics, you have done nothing but change the wording associated with levies to make them appear more favorable. You claim that levy groups “ask” students if they will pay a small fee to support them. Yet this is inaccurate: a third party organization, the TCSA, hosts “elections” (with infamously low participation rates) where 51% of students get to “vote” on what fees 100% of students will pay. “Asking” for support is exactly the model I am proposing- groups truly asking for voluntary support from students. The verb “ask” insinuates the possibility of being refused. The current model is mob rule, where a 51% pass in a 3rd party organization’s election with a 35% student participation rate somehow qualifies as “asking students,” in your terms. This brings me to my next point: Most students here at Trent are paying for the education; for the degree. We are paying Trent University. The TCSA, the “umbrella” levy group, is in fact a completely distinct and independent organization. When my money goes to supporting Trent’s departments, cafeterias, and professor’s wages, this is expected- that’s what tuition payments are for. But this “fee salad” you described that includes levy fees and tuition in one is factually non-existent. If you look at your “fee calculator,” you will see that tuition (payments to Trent) and “student levies” (payments to the TCSA and levy groups) are two distinct categories. Yet if you don’t pay these fees, to third party organizations completely independent from Trent University, you WILL NOT GRADUATE from Trent University. That, ladies and gentlemen, is either coercion or extortion. As such, I would encourage you to re-assess your troublesome use of euphemism and re-analyze the current state of affairs before accusing me of fallacious reasoning.
Anonymous: I am not, and never have been, a “naive individualist.” I believe the initiation of force is wrong, not collectivism. Collectivism is fantastic, and I encourage you to share your things with others, live in co-op housing, reject consumerism, or any alternative lifestyle that fulfills your version of happiness. I simply ask that you do not force me to participate, or to agree with you. Similarly, I will not interfere with your choices. As for “protecting” minority groups, I can speak from experience. I too, am the member of a small student group. We have no levy, and never will on principle. I personally have donated money to support the group, as have other members. We have asked for contributions from others. Despite the fact that we are a small minority thought group, we exist through the voluntary support of those who value the group. If your group could not exist without extorting the student body, then your group is the product of immoral aggression and should not exist, since no one would support it voluntarily. Is that accurate, or would you still choose to support the group? The fact is, it is free to form a student group. Meet somewhere, and talk. The rest ought to be left to voluntary participation and contribution.