Once again this month, the Coral Gables city government has made it clear the degree to which they hold you and this university in contempt. For several years, UM has sought to improve the facilities and resources available to its students and faculty. Much of these improvements will take the form of infrastructure upgrades and new construction. Additional residential facilities are also in the works. All of this is aimed at providing an increase in UM’s national collegiate ranking, an increasingly important element in student and faculty recruitment.
As many of you remember, the process UM had to navigate just to break ground on University Village was difficult. This was a result of the actions of the City Commission and certain citizens of Coral Gables who exhibit near complete hostility toward UM and its students. Just recently, that hostility toward UM’s interests was evident once again in the City Planning Board’s decision to recommend disapproval of any amendments to UM’s master infrastructure plan, the UMCAD. The ‘no’ vote would be bad enough, but it came at the tail end of a three-year refusal by the board to even grant the school a hearing on any amendments to the UMCAD. Now that they’ve finally heard us out and made a decision, the only thing they could bring themselves to do was flip all of us a metaphorical bird.
This type of nonsense by the city government has to stop. Our university provides a multitude of economic benefits to Coral Gables, not the least of which is its status as Coral Gables’ largest employer. Even with this in mind, the city government continues to appear to do everything it can to stifle UM even though the student body overwhelmingly supports infrastructure improvements like the new University Center. Unfortunately, if the current trend continues, University Village will be the last new thing the city will allow UM to build.
Although it would be easy to leave this tale with a blanket condemnation of the Coral Gables City Commission, it’s not as simple as all that. While I strongly protest the actions they’ve taken with reference to UM, in the end they are merely responding to those of their constituents that would like to see all of us just go away. The reason for that is very simple; those city residents do something most of us don’t do – they vote in Coral Gables elections.
This spring, the mayor of Coral Gables and at least one city commissioner will be up for election. Normally, city elections bring out just a few thousand voters and are normally decided by several hundred votes.
Currently there are just under 15,000 students attending UM. If we just count resident students and commuter students who live in Coral Gables, we’re still talking about several thousand votes, enough to determine any city election.
Don’t let another year go by without letting the Coral Gables City Commission know your voice matters.
Register to vote in Coral Gables!
Scott Wacholtz is a graduate student concentrating in Middle Eastern history. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org