Olympic contract revealed to Capilano students

It is easy to notice the gigantic “Why I Am” signs that have been plastered all over the University Campus, that state the reasons why professors, current students, and alumni are excited about getting involved with the Olympic Games in February.

However, it has been somewhat unclear to students why Capilano agreed to extend the school year for two weeks. It is easy to make assumptions that the University did this purely for economic benefit, or they simply wanted to jump on the Olympic bandwagon. However, the real reason behind Capilano deciding to convert our campus into a parking lot for athletes and Olympic fans are provided in a contract which the Courier received.

The details behind this decision are outlined in the agreement Capilano signed with VANOC (Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games) in October of 2008. The agreement states that the involvement of community contributors has ‘the potential to create a legacy for the community contributor’.

According to the agreement, one of the main attractions for students is the training benefits they will receive by becoming either staff or volunteers for the 2010 Games, and the recognition these students will receive as a result of that work. The agreement does not indicate the extent or nature of this recognition.

For Capilano, the agreement does state clearly what the benefits are – the University will be able to reference its association with the 2010 Games in all of its promotions from this time onward, in order to draw in more students and raise the profile of the University. 

According to a recent Capilano University Global Stewardship student, Penny Elliott, although she doesn’t believe that the contract is entirely fair, it doesn’t seem to be overly abusive to Capilano. “If students are forced to take the two weeks off anyways because of the Olympics, it makes sense to have the opportunity to work for VANOC during those two weeks. It could be a good option for a lot of people.”

As Elliott mentioned, VANOC has provided Capilano students with the option of working during the Olympics. This is because Capilano is required to make a minimum value contribution of $250,000 to the Games, which is not simply a cheque written out to VANOC, but rather, the assigned value of all the things Capilano is handing over for Olympic use, such as parking facilities, training areas, and of course, the students who are able to work as staff or volunteers.

In exchange for this, VANOC has agreed to implement a volunteer program – which was the ability for students to sign up non paid volunteer positions – at the University, as well as a workforce program, which allows students to sign up for paid working positions with VANOC during the Games. The University also receives recognition for its involvement with the Games, as well as the opportunity to purchase a minimal number of tickets at retail value, in priority to other ticket purchases. With the breadth and complexities of this document, it is, however, nearly impossible to tell what the tangible benefits of Capilano’s Olympic involvement are for the average student.

//Krissi Bucholtz


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© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: editor@capilanocourier.com