Editor, the Gauntlet,
[Re: "The grand funding shell game," March 23, 2006]
I'd like to take some space to elucidate some of my reasoning for support of the $100,000 proposal passed by the Students' Legislative Council on Tuesday March 21.
To begin, it's true that "student spaces" hasn't fared as well as the other items on the quality plebiscite conducted in February. It was, however, within 200 votes of the second place finisher, so it wasn't exactly blown off the map. With that in mind, $100,000 is a small piece of the Quality Money total of $1.77 million, and its impact is leveraged with donations from both the Alumni Association and the university. In other words, the Students' Union sees the building of a $500,000 project for the cost of $100,000--and that's a good business plan any way you cut it. I suppose you could argue that the $100,000 would have been better put towards hiring new teachers or student scholarships but trust me when I say those areas will get their attention as the SU Quality Committee turns its attention to the rest of the pool. It's a (moderately) big pie and it shouldn't be dumped all into one area of quality enhancement.
Secondly, by committing this money the Students' Union sends a signal of support for the overall Take Your Place project to enhance student space on campus being led by special advisor to the president on student life Sheila O'Brien. This is a project that has already garnered upwards of a million dollars in external donations for student space on this campus. It's a lot easier for Mrs. O'Brien to gather donors from the business community when she can say that students actively support this project and have already put their money where their mouth is.
The bottom line on this issue is that this is a space students will enjoy for years to come and it is small changes like this that often have real impacts on student's views of their university experience. It's easy to be cynical of any non-essential expenditure by the university or the SU, but unless you prefer a campus of drab concrete and uninspiring architectural blocks you sometimes have to accept that we are going to have to anti-up some coin if we want to make a difference.