At the most recent Students' Legislative Council (or SLC for the uninitiated) a rather amusing episode occurred. Students' Union General Manager Bryan Pryde, in discussing MacEwan Hall redevelopment, briefly pointed to where the SU's new bar and restaurant is located on the architect's plans.
It seemed apparent to nearly everybody in the room that the new bar would exist on the site currently occupied by the Den. The fact that Max Café will move to the current Den location, likely as soon as this summer, is old news to most students.
However, one young commissioner who shall remain nameless piped up excitedly.
"But... what will happen to the Den?" he asked to stifled giggles and knowing winks.
Pryde gave a predictable answer, one that has stuck in the Gauntlet's collective consciousness for months like a fish bone caught in the throat. Pryde told the rookie commissioner that the decision to close the Den remained up to the university.
The U of C owns the space the Den currently resides in. The SU owns the majority of the rest of MacEwan Hall and MacEwan Students' Centre. However, SU plans for redevelopment clearly show the Students' Union's plans to open a new bar/restaurant in the space occupied by the Den.
As the Gauntlet sees it, this presents a bit of a problem. One of two troubling conclusions can be reached. First, the SU might be incompetent. One cannot build in space one neither owns nor leases. If they choose to tear the Den out and build the new Max's there, one can assume the university will be slightly upset and pursue legal action against the SU
The other option is that the SU and the university have already made a deal regarding the future of the Den space. If this is the case, why aren't they telling anyone?
Has the SU got something to hide?
The SU is elected by their peers and, as such, must answer for what they do, especially when they are spending a lot of students' money, and especially when they are toying with the future of one of the U of C's few campus institutions.
However, no form of student consultation (e.g., a referendum or poll) was held at any point in the last three years to ask students what they would like to see happen to the Den. Why is this? The excuse that a referendum would have further delayed the redevelopment process or been expensive is not particularly impressive. Democracy, by its very nature, is expensive and time-consuming.
Rather, the leading speculation among some students is the SU would have met with opposition to any plan that involved removing the Den and replacing it with a transplanted Max's. A justified fear, reinforced by university administration and the SU's refusal to answer direct questions about the future of the Den.
The SU will very likely open their new bar/restaurant with very little opposition from students. After all, their timing--mid summer when most students are off-campus--is impeccable. They should keep in mind, however, that they may be setting a precedence of flagrant unaccountability.
The SU can tear the Den out, they can replace it with Max's, they can call the new bar whatever they like, but some students will probably not be fooled. Those students will learn not to trust their elected representatives, and might make every effort to spread the same sentiment to as many other students as they can. This may prove disastrous to the authority of the fledgling 58th SLC
That is, unless, the SU comes clean and explains this troubling situation.