CSU Rekindles Concordia Student Centre Discussion
The ghosts of two failed student centres, a questionable contract with the administration, a fought-over fee levy and an elusive money trail haunt the highly contentious issue of student space at Concordia.
But, in spite of its dubious past, the Concordia Student Union has deemed that it is time to move forward, and reopen the discussion of student space at this school.
“We want to bring this issue back down to earth to what it was supposed to be and supposed to stand for,” CSU President Schubert Laforest told council at last Wednesday’s meeting. “We just want to figure out what students want, and we don’t want to make the same mistakes we have in the past.”
VP Internal and Clubs Nadine Atallah addressed council with a presentation depicting the history of student space at Concordia dating back to the ’70s, as an introduction to the issue. Atallah spent the summer looking into student space and formulated a plan to move forward on the issue.
This time last year, council turned down the option of the Faubourg, which would have resulted in the CSU splitting the cost of the building with Concordia’s administration.
At the same time, the union voted to take the $8.1 million student-centre fund out of the hands of the university and put it into their own account at Scotiabank. A year’s worth of interest from this fund was allotted to go towards research on student space.
Five months later, $11,046.80 had been spent to commission a study conducted by Leger Marketing on the need for a student centre at Concordia.
The poll, which was received after Wednesday’s council meeting, surveyed 2,631 undergraduate students—about one out of every 13 students—on time spent on campus, need for increased space, use of current services and food options.
The survey found that, “Concordia students currently don’t enjoy spending time on campus, whether at [Sir George Williams] or Loyola. It is difficult to find space to study on Concordia campuses and food options are limited.”
The results of the survey were sent to council after last Wednesday’s meeting and are set to be discussed at an upcoming council meeting.
As of right now, the first thing that needs to happen, Atallah says, is research. “We want to know what space we have and what space we need,” she said.
She has looked into several management companies, of which she would like to select one to help implement a three-phase action plan. She has received three proposals, which have been distributed to council.
Councillor Laura Glover raised concern that this procedure had not entailed an open-tender process, but Atallah said going back to the drawing board at this point would be a huge hindrance, as council is already late in dealing with the issue.
The first phase of Atallah’s plan is to conduct a study in consultation with the school’s students and clubs to determine their wants and needs in terms of space.
Phase two and three consist of looking into financial feasibility and logistics, followed by establishing a project implementation plan—both based upon the findings of the initial research.
“We want to more forward, but we also want to actually do our homework, so we aren’t just operating on this idea of what students want, but have actual hard facts and figures,” said Laforest, noting that he wants to make sure council is well informed prior to heading into any sort of negotiations.
“We want to have answers as opposed to just questions when we go to the table,” said Atallah.
To ensure this is the case, council appointed an ad-hoc student space committee to focus on conducting preliminary research pertaining to this issue until January, when a standing committee will potentially be appointed.
The proposals will be discussed at the next CSU Council meeting on Oct. 24.
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