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Is this how you 'welcome students each and every year'?

Monday, September 13, 2004

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Written by Julie Holmes

Dear C. Todorowski,

All that I can say right now is… wow! I have just found and read a rather
ignorantly concocted letter by you, a local who is apparently fed up with us
wild and capricious students. I am an adult and I am also a contributing member
of society, and unfortunately, because I attend the University of Guelph, I am
viewed as an irresponsible outsider (non-local) and a spoiled brat to boot. I
am rather offended to be referred to in such a manner. The only saving grace in
your letter is your mention that ‘not all students are like this but the
majority of them are’. Being a student myself and seeing first hand what my
fellow students are up to and how they behave, I believe that the previous
statement is quite inaccurate. In grouping together all students and
characterizing them as disrespectful and lazy, on top of blaming them for the
messes of the downtown core, you are being very ignorant! In talking about
irresponsibility, I think you are leading by example through your accusations.

Why not create a 40 hour mandatory volunteer program? Well, you are ignoring the
fact that we pay tuition to attend an institution, whereas in high school where
these volunteer programs have come into effect, these costs are funded by the
government. If I am paying tuition to go to school, I am paying tuition to go
to school, to learn, and to get my degree while creating jobs for professors,
janitors, administration, and various other employees at the University of
Guelph. I am not paying tuition to be forced to do community involvement to
counteract costs that a fraction of rowdy students have incurred. Do not get me
wrong, I am in no way putting down volunteerism, as you are also ignoring the
fact that students are already actively involved in the community through
volunteer work. We volunteer at local schools, local animal shelters, local
drop-in centers, in community programs for the disabled, food banks, breakfast
programs, community festivals, daycares, youth groups, and the list goes on.

Why not charge them $25 each per year to contribute to the cost of cleaning up
after them? You say students don’t pay taxes, well in that case, I think the
government has made some astronomical errors, not at all in my favor. We
students also pay property taxes, as those who do not pay property taxes
directly have landlords that do. Do you think that landlords pay property taxes
out of the kindness of their hearts and charge us less in rent because of that?
They pay their property taxes through the income generated from renting their
houses out to the many students who attend the University. Not to even mention
that rent in the city of Guelph is much higher than in many other parts of
Ontario, but that is just the way it is and students must accept this or choose
to live and attend school elsewhere. Are you not upset about being forced to pay
for someone else’s actions? Why is it then okay to make another responsible
resident of Guelph (i.e. the students who are hard working, law-abiding
citizens) pay for it? You are ignoring the fact that, much like yourself, I am
not the one causing destruction. Why then should I pay an extra fee for the
clean up of the downtown while, much like yourself, I am paying to live here?

I am not disagreeing with you that something must be done to keep the downtown
core clean. I would say that only a fraction of students are how you describe,
and it saddens me to think that this is the generally accepted perception of
the typical student. Being a resident of Guelph I am amazed at some people’s
actions towards our city and I wholeheartedly agree with your idea to have
police officers ticket offenders to regain yearly clean-up costs. Why not also
have those offenders who are caught spend a Saturday or Sunday of each month
volunteering to clean up the downtown? Would this not be more feasible and
equitable?

I think that the main thing is that you are ignoring the fact that students are
a vital part of the Guelph community. I am disappointed at your lack of
understanding that students who are attending school in this city while living
here are just as much of a resident of Guelph as you. This is where we go to
school, this is where we work, this is where we support local businesses, this
is where we vote, this is where we volunteer our time, this is where we live,
and this is our home too!!! Rather than singling out certain groups of people
and applying stereotypes to them, we need to work together as a community to
find resolve to these issues.

Sincerely,
Julie Holmes

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