No, Greenhouse. No.

  • Graphic Graeme Shorten Adams

You’ve probably never seen it, you’d be hard-pressed to find it, but the Concordia Greenhouse is looking for your money at the student election.

At first glance, it might be hard to say no: They’re asking for mere pennies, $0.12 per credit. That translates to $2.88 annually for the average student.

If you’ve ever trekked up to that mystical, faraway land on the 13th floor of the Hall Building, you’ll know the idyllic atmosphere there is an asset to the school.

The greenhouse also does more than just provide you with the greenest place to study this side of a golf course: It’s a place that champions community gardening and can help put Concordia students back in touch with plants without having to hitchhike out of the city. It’s an oasis in a city full of grey.

And yet…

I can’t recommend that you vote in favour of the greenhouse’s fee levy unreservedly.

While $0.12 per credit may not seem like much, it’s worth taking that number in context. Fee levy groups at Concordia include The Link, The Concordian, CJLO radio, Cinema Politica, the People’s Potato, Le Frigo Vert and the 2110 Centre for Gender Advocacy.

Their right to students’ money is sacrosanct and they proved that by getting fee levy referendum questions passed. Each of the groups contribute significantly to thousands weekly in the Concordia community and are expensive to run.

The greenhouse is neither of those two things.

As much as I love the greenhouse, so far it has been operating as a subsidiary of Sustainable Concordia, which is itself the recipient of a $0.05-per-credit fee levy. The Concordia greenhouse currently also receives grant money.

A $0.12 per credit fee levy, if they receive it, would translate to a significant amount of money. Concordia has in excess of 35,000 undergraduate students; assuming the average student is taking four courses per semester, the greenhouse would be looking at around $50,000 per semester, or $100,000 per year.

You read that right: $100,000 per year.

While they could use that money to continue providing Concordia students with a place to grow plants and contemplate nature within the sometimes-draining monochromatic downtown campus, they’ve provided few reasonable justifications for such a drain on student finances.

The greenhouse has provided few suggestions of where the money will go, but if history is used as a guide, the vast majority of student funds will go to one place: salaries.

The greenhouse has yet to explain why they need a hundred large annually to run the greenhouse, which is restricted to a fraction of the top floor of a single Concordia building.

It’s worth waiting before voting yes. Maybe with another year of reflection, the greenhouse can give you a good reason to go up to the 13th floor and finally see it for yourself.

UPDATE The Link originally stated that the Concordia greenhouse was seeking a 240 per cent increase in its operating budget. This is not the case. The Link regrets the error.

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