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Students’ Union proposes $16.50 semesterly fee for renovations, programming

Students will be asked whether they want to pay $16.50 per semester for Students’ Union Building renovation in an upcoming referendum.

In a presentation to Students’ Council on January 8, vice-president (operations & finance) Robyn Paches talked about the Student Events Initiative, the project that includes not only the planned Myer Horowitz Theatre and SUB renovations, but a variety of funds that will be set aside for events and programming in the building. According to the presentation, the plan is to charge students $16.50 in the fall and winter semesters, and $8.25 in the spring and summer semester. This fee would continue to be charged until the debt is recovered, a maximum of 30 years.

Paches also said that students will only be charged half of that fee until the renovations reached the point where the facilities are usable. He predicted that students can begin to use the renovated space starting late 2019 or fall 2020.

The presentation was delivered the day before Council was set to vote on the first principles of the planned referendum, which passed in the following meeting on January 9 without opposition.

In addition to the fee itself, the motion brought forth to Council outlined a number of aspects surrounding the fee and the project itself including:

  • The fee will be indexed to inflation.
  • Students enrolled in the Faculty of Augustana will be exempt.
  • Students who are enrolled in programs (including, but not limited to, project, thesis, internship, practicum and study abroad) that take place exclusively outside the U-Pass service area are eligible to opt-out.

Daria Nordell, a campaign coordinator for the Students’ Union, explained some of the programming details included in the initiative. In particular, an annual amount of $100,000 will be set aside in grants for student groups to host events on campus. These grants are intended to help student groups when planning events like guest speakers

“If you’re a student group and you really want to bring in an Islamic speaker who is really excellent at knowing about Islamic tile design, and you don’t have the funds to do that but it would bring your community so much help, this is basically going to allow you to do that,” Nordell said.

The initiative will also set aside another $100,000 as part of a featured programming fund which, according to a previous presentation, will go towards “bringing the best shows and debates to campus.” The initiative plans to have an annual program of eight to ten featured events offered for free or at low cost to students.

Paches also said that student can expect to pay the fee for the next 25 to 30 years as part of the terms of the loan, similar to the fund that’s paying toward the SUB atrium renovations. But he added that additional funding through donors and sponsorship can ease the terms of the loan.

It is expected that students will vote on the referendum later in March. Renovations on the theatre are expected to begin in summer 2019.

Nathan Fung

Nathan Fung is a sixth-year political science student and The Gateway's news editor for the 2018-19 year. He can usually be found in the Gateway office, turning coffee into copy.

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