Some members of the student committee disagreed with the membership and said the $175 could have been better spent helping to pay for ``software for our computers or something else.'' One student said, ``to pay a fee to join the chamber doesn't really make much sense when groups can do it just as easily themselves,'' adding that the money would be better spent on regional or national student advocacy groups.
The most disappointing part of the debate were the comments of several student leaders who did not hide their dislike or mistrust of anything to do with business.
One of the opponents to chamber membership said there is an uneasiness among students about ``corporate influence'' in education. Another student said, ``I really disagree with it (the membership),'' pointing out the essential goal of the chamber is to make conditions more favorable for business. ``Student Senate is a governmental organization, we don't sell anything,'' she said. ``So, what's the point of us joining?''
Fortunately, there were members of the committee who spoke out effectively in support of the chamber membership. However, it is difficult and/or disturbing to learn there are student leaders, or at least students elected to represent their peers, who apparently have a fairly negative attitude toward private business and whatever they consider to be ``corporate involvement'' in the affairs of the university. As one student said: Why should the student senate support the chamber when the chamber's goal is to make conditions for business more favorable.
Have these students ever stopped to realize the role private business plays in the life of the university?
What kind of a university would there be without the support of private business in one form or another? Consider the jobs and taxes private business provides to the economic health of the state, which in turn provides funding for the university.
Consider the private fiscal support to the university for student scholarships, monies for distinguished faculty, travel funds for students and faculty, student loan monies and many other programs.
Without private fiscal support from private business, and money from individuals who have prospered from their involvement with private business, KU would not be the school it is today.
Maybe some of those opposing private business and ``corporate influence'' would be just as happy going to a school without the many ``extras'' made possible by ``corporate influence'' and private business. These are the extras that make the difference between an average, run-of-the-mill university and one that stresses excellence and provides an exceptional academic environment for its students.
Not too many years ago the Kansas University Endowment Association and the university conducted a capital campaign that raised more than $265 million for the university.
These monies have helped in a vast number of programs -- whether buying books, works of art, equipment for classrooms, building the Lied Center, Anschutz Science Library, and on and on. Where do some of the student senate members think these funds originate? Do they have any idea of the number of Lawrence residents, business people or corporate people who are generous in the private fiscal support of the university?
Student senate members opposed to ``corporate influence'' in the university might be interested to know more than 1,000 corporations have matching gift programs for employees who contribute to the university. The Endowment Association received more than $1 million last year in the form of matching gifts.
What if potential donors were told a good number of KU students are opposed to ``corporate influence'' in the university.
Currently various Endowment Association and university officials are studying the feasibility of another capital campaign to raise monies for additional needs at the school. Over the years the goal of the Endowment Association has been to provide funding for the university, its students and faculty that the state alone cannot or will not fund. As many chancellors have noted, private fiscal support for KU has ``put frosting on the cake'' and has helped make the difference between KU being an ordinary state-aided school and a truly comprehensive research institution.
What would be the chance of success for a new capital campaign if potential contributors thought students, and faculty members, were opposed to ``corporate influences'' in education?
Fortunately the ideas expressed by some members of the student senate are not reflective of the general thinking of the majority of reasonable, rational and mature KU students. They understand and appreciate the role of private business and ``corporate influences'' if KU is to achieve the level of excellence its alumni, friends, faculty and majority of students seek to attain.