Saturday, October 18, 2008

More Glory to the Green

I knew that the results of the stadium referendum at UNT were supposed to be released about 5:00 this afternoon, so I started hunting for them. I visited the NT Daily--nothing. Ditto for the Denton Record-Chronicle. But when I went to, I found what I was looking for:
Students at the University of North Texas voted to add for the first time ever a dedicated athletic fee to help fund a new football stadium and entertainment venue, according to referendum results released today by the Student Government Association.

The official results of this week’s referendum, which was held Oct. 13-17, show that 2,829 (58.1 percent) students voted in favor of the athletic fee while 2,038 (41.9 percent) students voted against the fee. A total of 4,867 (13.9 percent of the student body) students voted in the election that also included races for SGA senators and the UNT Homecoming court.

“I believe the student’s voice was heard and it shows that we care about the future of this university. We understand that this vote was not just about the stadium. It was about our university’s future and our experience as students and alumni, because having a new stadium and entertainment venue will enhance our entire college experience,” said Jeff Kline, student body president. “The students have made an investment in this university by voting yes; we now challenge the alumni of UNT to support their alma mater as well.”
Read the whole thing; this is great news! Thank you to all the students who supported this effort (despite a perceived effort by the Daily--for which I used to write--to push the opposition). The 56-year-old white elephant known as Fouts Field should be consigned to the dustbin of history in about three years now; I'm already looking forward to opening day at the new place in 2011.

And yes, this College of Music alumnus--though not the wealthiest guy on the block--will find a way to open his wallet a bit to support this effort. As the story said, the students have done their part, and now it's our turn.

UPDATE: The discussion continues in the comments; feel free to join in.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Welcome to readers of the forums who are visiting from this post. Click the "UNT" tag below to see other things that I've written about our alma mater, or click "Home" to see what else I've written about lately.


Anonymous said...

WOW some 4,000 students voted........out of the touted 34,000 odd students attending UNT ( I get this approximate figure from those pricey billboards on I-35 and other main thoroughfares) and THE STUDENTS HAVE SPOKEN??????? Excuse me, that's not even 25% of the student population! Whaddaya think about the ones that didn't vote? More interested in the quality of education, don't really care because a new field will only be important to the atheletic dept. and those who play sports hoping to become professionals (and good luck to them and I hope their dreams come true)?
What about colleges that have no football teams.....are they inferior institutions of higher education because of this?
I'm glad you're excited that the minority voted and the minority is influencing the decision (do you really think that if the vote had gone the other way that the new stadium would NOT have been built? Nah, I don't think you're that naive).

Kev said...

WOW some 4,000 students voted........out of the touted 34,000 odd students attending UNT

Granted, it doesn't line up with the 64% of the U.S. citizenry who voted in the last Presidential election (though only 47% of those age 18-24 voted in that election), or even the 46% who voted in the '06 midterm Congressional elections (and, by the way, the 18-24-year-old vote dropped to 22% in that one).

But as elections get more local, the percentages seem to get smaller. Let's compare a similar initiative: The Trinity River toll road referendum in Dallas year ago. That election only had a 15% turnout, which is close to the 13.9% of students who voted in the election this past week. And if we compare apples to apples, last spring's SGA election managed to attract a mere 4 percent. Yes, it's a disappointing turnout, but it's not all that surprising (and the SGA president said in this NT Daily article that it's the biggest turnout for such an election in recent memory; most of them are lucky to crack 10 percent).

Whaddaya think about the ones that didn't vote?

I'm sure there's a lot more than one reason:

1) Apathy
2) Didn't hold a strong opinion one way or another
3) Were confident enough in the size of the "yes" faction (comparing size of Facebook groups, etc.) that they figured their vote wasn't "needed"
4) Laziness

(With the ability to vote online, there really was no excuse not to participate. *dons geezer mask* Back in my day, we had to go down to the Union and fill out a piece of paper! And we liked it! *removes geezer mask* And thus, we had one more excuse for not voting in those days, which might explain the lame turnouts back then.)

What about colleges that have no football teams.....are they inferior institutions of higher education because of this?

In reality, no. But perception is nine-tenths of reality, as they say. Let's compare our neighbor to the south, UTA (which has taken quite a beating in the Daily comments the past few weeks). The main student complaint about the place is that it "empties out every Friday afternoon" (and I was there two evenings ago; the place was deader than a doornail). Having football gives the chance to bring students and alumni together on multiple weekends in the fall, and, as I said in an earlier post, those alumni who come back also tend to increase their giving to the university, as well as patronizing Denton businesses (anything from gas stations to restaurants to nightclubs) on game days.

I'm glad you're excited that the minority voted and the minority is influencing the decision

Well, if you think that "the students have spoken" is an inaccurate sentence, then I can amend it to "the students who were going to speak anyway, have spoken." As i said above, for better or for worse, a 14% turnout in any UNT election is pretty decent. If there really were a majority of students who didn't want the stadium, they should have done a better job of getting out the vote.

(do you really think that if the vote had gone the other way that the new stadium would NOT have been built? Nah, I don't think you're that naive).

Nope, I'm not, but a failure yesterday would have probably meant one of two things:

1) They would have had to wait five or six more years to try the referendum again. In the meantime, Fouts Field would have gotten older, more decrepit, and even more of an embarrassment to the university; we would have lost Coach Dodge at the end of his contract (and it would have been harder and harder to fill his job with an individual of that quality); and more and more recruits would have gone elsewhere (they might have considered UNT a viable option were it not for the white elephant on 35E). And in a far-fetched but worst-case scenario, part of Fouts could have fallen down in five or six years, risking a lawsuit and lots of bad publicity.

And if that election took place six years from now, the stadium would likely cost $100 million rather than the current $60 million.

2) Let's say that Rick Villarreal did manage to come up with the whole $60 million from alumni. Mattress Mac Stadium still wouldn't be built right away, because it would probably take twice as long to raise twice as much money. It would still be more expensive in the long run (and Fouts would continue to crumble, prize recruits would still go elsewhere, etc.).

Well, we may not agree on this subject, but I've enjoyed the discussion. Feel free to keep coming back and comment on other things (and if you want, make yourself up a screenname to distinguish yourself from the other Anonymi who comment here).

Anonymous said...

What do I think about the students that didn't vote??? They didn't care about the issue. So by not voting, they consented to allow others to make the decision for them.

Fuck 'em.

Anonymous said...

It could be that they didn't know.

Debating about the rest of the student population is splitting hairs: the athletic department needed a vote to push the referendum forward legally, and that's what they got.

We all know the quality of our degree is a two-way street between what the college offers and what you put into it. Nothing to do with athletics.

However, that is a pure/ideal situation that rarely exists once you graduate. Bosses make a hire because they heard the Duke commentators complimenting the academic value of that ACC matchup. Co-workers mock your degree because you lost on Saturday. Financially, if you're winning, alumni interaction increases exponentially and there is a tendency for these same donors *cough*fans*cough* to give money to other areas that would afford better education.

Like it or not, it has been studied and proven in academia that athletic success goes hand in hand with the perceived value of your degree. And, unfortunately most of us are not making the decision on our own first job, nor the environment that you work in. It is the opinion of others that you rely on to not only make the hire, but create an atmosphere that includes teamwork/cohesion/etc...

The general split on this issue exists because one side chooses to embrace this and go with it in a positive manner, and the other side fights it to the bitter end insisting that they want no part of it.

Anonymous said...

I'll see what I can do about changing from anonymous to a "named" poster. And thank you...I am not the "F bomb" poster! Although I don't claim to have an absolutely clean vocabulary, I do try to stick to my belief that people use excessive amounts of profanity because of their limited IQ or limited vocabulary! (I certainly opened up myself to attack with THAT comment)!

Anonymous said...

I saw a tv news blurb about your precious UNT atheletes....15 tested positive for drugs! Now is this more embarassing than the condition of Fouts Field? And I hate to say this but a new field will not cancel out (especially in parents' minds) the drugs in the team!

Kev said...

Anon #3 (or is it #2, back for a return visit?): I responded to your question in this post.