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regarding the 2010 Olympics
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CURRENT NEWS: For October 2006

University Students Take a HIT from the Olympics

The following is an excerpt from my book,
Leverage Olympic Momentum


As you can see, accommodations are one of the major stress points during Olympic events. Hundreds of thousands of people move temporarily into the region to either enjoy the Games or to work. Some move in a few years before the Games and some only a few weeks in advance. These people have to stay somewhere, and all available space is utilized. Universities are big players in this respect because they are adept at managing temporary housing. It's part of their daily routine. Olympic organizations count on universities to put pressure on students to give up their space. Universities are always Olympic suppliers, partners and sometimes sponsors, and as such they feel a strong obligation to protect their economic interest, which means they side with their big clients (Olympic organizations) and not their little clients (students). Olympic organizations pay incredible amounts of money to universities to rent facilitates, and universities repay them in kind by shuffling and moving res students around. University students in Olympic regions concerned about their quality of education have two choices. They can either lobby the university to ensure they are treated fairly and with respect during the year of the Games, or they can attend a university outside of the Olympic region. Neither option is ever selected because everyone always mistakenly believes universities will do the right thing. Consequently, students don't lobby in a timely manner, or choose a school that won't be distracted with meeting Olympic obligations. In Sydney, students felt undue pressure to sign agreements that released their living space for four weeks during the Games because they felt that if they didn't sign the agreements they would be refused access for the rest of the semester. Students had to move out of their spaces and rent storage space, plus pay for reconnection costs for phones and services. Finding alternative housing was nearly impossible because private landlords were not willing to make space available to students when they could command a king's ransom from new residents, temporary workers and tourists. Universities were renting their space for ten times the amount students paid. Is it any wonder the University of British Columbia wants to add four extra floors overlooking Wreck Beach? International students were especially taken advantage of because they were not around to inspect premises or talk to their peers, and they had no idea what fair market value was. Some paid more than double what their local peers paid. Student Housing Associations were called upon constantly to deal with unscrupulous landlords and powerful university administrators who put student needs second. Students had to double and triple up in single rooms during the Games. Governments refused to intervene and did nothing to protect tenant rights. In the past it was easy pickings for landlords and anyone looking to capitalize on the needs of students and low-income renters. Floating hotels and temporary conversion of unused buildings in the Vancouver area are all options for enterprising SMBs who want to alleviate the stressful situation and make a respectful profit, but not hold low income renters up for ransom. (hjl61)

One of the more unstable issues for universities and Olympic organizations is the relationship they have with students. University students are mavericks and cannot be silenced or easily manipulated. They almost single handedly brought the powerful recording industry to its knees and are doing the same thing with the movie business. University students are the best communicators of our era. When they have something to say they can reach millions in a nanosecond, and they do. Young people also innocently break the rules because they don't know the rules. They are not handcuffed by decorum. When they see something is not right they automatically act to correct the situation. Olympic organizations do things for a reason, and often the reason is not obvious. They cannot abide by partners who shoot from the hip, and as we all know, university students can outdraw almost anyone. They are the most feared guns for hire in the technological world because they act impulsively and are not necessarily motivated by profit. Sometimes they kill just to watch it die, or to brag about it later. Olympic organizations are masters at burying information and university students are masters at setting information free. University students also know that in order to beat an enemy it helps to undermine their presence in the market. They learned that lesson through MP3 files and peer-to-peer networking. Napster, KaZaa, Grokster, and BitTorrent would have never taken off if it weren't for university students.

Olympic organizations partner with universities for a number of reasons, and another reason is for access to a volunteer workforce that is at least eighteen years old. University students are hard and trustworthy workers. Sun Tzu's old, "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer" tome is exactly what Olympic organizations do. They know university students are independent thinkers, but they also know they need them to work within their system. What better way to keep them on your side then by offering Olympic curriculums on their campuses? It is a brilliant strategy because not only does it create an educated workforce with built in Olympic ideals, but also the students pay for the education and then act as volunteers. It is a perfect closed loop system. Plus, by keeping the students under their wing they reduce the likelihood of critical debate regarding Olympic culture. (hjl82)

Forcing university students to comply through a written agreement is almost impossible, but suckling them creates a relationship that borders on maternal.

University administrators enter into agreements with Olympic organizations on a number of levels that include "education, training, sponsorship support, value in kind, workforce, facility and equipment leasing, rental space," etc. Universities also create relationships with media by supplying trained students to do research for background material for accredited journalists during the Games. Students also develop and manage internet outlets throughout Olympic facilities where spectators can send messages to athletes. Students usually work as volunteers, but in some instances, are paid a token salary. In many cases they also earn credits. (hjl83)

There is no doubt some university students will benefit from the relationship, but the tradeoff is that the entire university is muzzled in the process. It will however present an opportunity for some SMBs. Obviously, not all students will enroll in Olympic study courses, and the large numbers that don't will have relationships with their peers who have enrolled. This relationship can support a transfer of Olympic knowledge invaluable to independent contractors. Knowing how the system is set up and managed internally will give shrewd SMBs a jump on the competition. Universities pride themselves on offering free and open debate on all matters, but when Olympic culture is introduced the freedom to explore and expound openly upon certain trains of thought is impeded. Some students find it unconscionable, especially when they realize the university will place undue stress on their education by putting Olympic needs over the needs of the student body. It doesn't take long to sink in when costs escalate and students are evicted from dorms or forced to cram a three-month semester into eight weeks, etc. A university can generate revenue in the million-dollar plus range as a result of leasing rooms and sport facilities to Olympic organizations. Students often take a back seat. Olympic organizations not only directly sway students they also influence media through professors. By doing so they legitimize their position. What better way to get the media to believe than to hear it from a respected academic? (hjl84)
end of excerpt from; Leverage Olympic Momentum


Read about VANOC's "VISION" for UBC students
( University of British Columbia )




* We invested over three years and a six-figure budget researching Olympic organizations' relationships with sponsors, contractors, suppliers, partners, etc. The results surprised us too. Click below . . .


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