While representatives went to the Arts and Sciences Federation of Associations council meeting to drum up support for the student centre last Thursday, ASFA councillors peppered the group with questions and concerns about plans for the project.
With the CSU referendum to increase the fee-levy for the student centre over the course of the next two years only a few weeks away, the student union was hoping ASFA councillors would speak to the students they represent, answer questions and educate them about why the centre is necessary.
But after a brief presentation by the CSU’s VP external and projects Adrien Severyns, he was met with a barrage of questions lasting over 30 minutes. One of the concerns raised by councillors is how the needs of Loyola students would be addressed, as the student centre building will ultimately be placed downtown.
Councillor Michaela Manson questioned what would happen to the existing student spaces around campus when all student services and recreational areas are vacated and transferred to the new building.
Questions about whether Chartwell’s, Concordia’s exclusive campus food provider, would take issue with the retail and food locations that will supposedly be run out of the student centre, and on where a location for the centre could plausibly be found in the very dense downtown area were also raised.
While they attempted to answer some questions, Severyns and the second presenter Jonathan Wener, a businessman, Concordia donor and commerce alumnus, answered many questions by saying that all of these decisions would be up to students to decide on, since it was their centre.
The two presenters were also questioned repeatedly over a discrepancy in their discussions on in the estimated progress for the student centre, as Severyns projected a timeline of five years, while Wener said the centre could be completed in 18 months. Wener said that he was in fact being the “bad guy” as his timeline was based on the most ideal of scenarios.
Severyns began the presentation by summarizing the history of the student centre project. His presentation also highlighted parts of the management agreement, which will have three students sitting with two university representatives on the board of co-management. Control of the building will prospectively be split 62 per cent for students, with the remaining 38 per cent to the university. He also noted that the building would cost over $50 million, though only $6.7 million has been raised thus far.
In justifying the need for the centre, Severyns returned to his on-going argument.
“The problem is that the state of the university today is a big, big lack of student space,” he said, citing the loss of three clubs’ office space that was announced in October.
Wener took on the point of view of an alumnus, citing his experiences in the school by describing how the student centre would enrich the student experience. He pointed to the newly released Maclean’s rankings that listed Concordia as the 11th best Canadian comprehensive university out of a group 12, and 24th out of 49 schools in the overall ranking. “We need to get to 10. The only way we’re going to get to 10 is with student life, ” said Wener “Our rankings suffer because we don’t have student life.”
$6.7 million: amount raised to date from the student fee-levy for the student centre project
$50+ million: the projected amount that the student centre facility will cost according to Adrien Severyns