New student union building plans unveiled

<strong>By <a href=””>Sahira Memon</a></strong>

Possible tuition levy and new student union also discussed at forum

One of the plans discussed at the last forum meeting on February 1 was the creation of a new student union building in the Lorne Davies Complex. The purpose of such a building is not only to quell the frequent complaints of a lack of student space, but also to create a place on Burnaby Mountain in which all student unions and clubs could have a space of their own.

“A lot of other schools of our size and our prominence have the facilities that students need to be able to be engaged, stay on campus, and have good programs,” said Jeff McCann, SFSS president, on SFU student space. He compared it to student union buildings at other universities, such as at UBC.

He also emphasized the importance of creative ideas for the use of the space and likened the collection of ideas to the dropping of marbles into an empty jar.

“This jar is empty, you can see right through it . . . but it’s not really anything until you start putting things in it,” said Jeff McCann as he dropped marbles, representing different ideas, into the jar. He compared the dropping of these marbles to six weeks of discussion and debate to fuel creativity and ideas before the project begins.

The idea sharing began at the meeting, with an activity designed to determine the most popular uses of space for the new building, gauging options such as social space, DSU space, safe space, and family-friendly space. The results seemed to favor the space being used for DSUs (departmental student unions), and social space. McCann highlighted that this does not necessarily mean that this is how the space is going to be used, but it is useful to note these opinions, which will have a profound influence on the project.

Another topic was the creation of a new student union for the software systems program. This program deals with embedded software, and activities such as programming for either Apple or Android devices. The Department of Software Systems, formerly a subgroup within the Department of Computing Science, will now have a seat and a vote in future forums.

Finally, another debate centered around the possibility of a levy being added to student fees. The levy, with $1 being charged to full-time students, and $0.50 being charged to part-time students, would be directed towards Schools Building Schools, a registered charity focused on making education more accessible to underprivileged kids. Their current focus is on building and improving a school in Uganda. As alumni and students of SFU, their strong connection with SFU leads them to center their charity work at this institution. After much debate, the forum created and endorsed the referendum question:

“Are you in favour of a new fee of $1 per full-time student per semester and $0.50 per part-time student per semester to be levied for the benefit of the charitable international initiatives of Schools Building Schools?”

This question will be put on the upcoming SFSS general election ballot.

At the end of the meeting there was talk of a Society of Arts and Social Sciences financial presentation and a debate about the need for stipend payments among forum representatives. However, these issues will be discussed at future forum meetings.