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Student centre project reopened

by Marilla Steuter-Martin October 16, 2012
Student centre project reopened

The Concordia Student Union has a bank account with $9.5 million in it, set aside for the creation of a student centre.

This fund has been collecting dust, and interest, for more than a decade as the CSU and the university administration have struggled to come to a consensus as to where to spend the money.

Student space is something the downtown campus is pressed for, and with years of student dollars going towards this fund until 2011, CSU VP clubs Nadine Atallah wants to do something about it.

“This project has been lagging behind,” she told The Concordian in an interview. “In my opinion, our approach has been too reactive instead of proactive.”

Last year, the CSU rejected the Faubourg Ste-Catherine building as an option in a unanimous vote by council. Once it became clear that student opinion was not favourable towards turning the space into a student centre, the deal was killed and not much ground has been covered since.

“It became a contentious issue,” said Atallah. “The only way I see moving forward is by hiring a professional project management firm.”

According to Atallah, the first step will be to choose a company, and then study the existing student space on campus. An important factor will be to “consult student associations and faculty associations.”

“We can’t think about just stakeholders in the present,” she said, “but we have to think about the stakeholders in the future.”

Once a firm is chosen, by council, they will put together a financial feasibility study and eventually a project implementation plan which will include associated costs and risks.

When a plan is brought to the table, Atallah said she would rather take it directly to students than have council decide.

“I would prefer going to referendum and having students choose which way they want to move forward,” she said. “Going to referendum would ensure that the next executive has a clear mandate that they have to follow year in and year out.”

With student opinion factored into the plan, Atallah hopes to approach the university about renegotiating the existing student centre agreement.

“I wouldn’t be doing my due diligence not to leave behind a better plan than the one I came in with,” said Atallah.

She said that most likely, the student centre construction project, whether it’s renovating an old building, renting a space or building from scratch, is going to be a five to 10-year project.

An ad hoc committee was created by the CSU to review proposals for management firms and Atallah confirmed they will be meeting this week to make recommendations for the next regular meeting.

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