By Kayla Perry
On Feb. 28, a combination of Students’ General Association (SGA) executives and student representatives traveled to London, Ontario, to tour a variety of university and college student centers in preparation for the referendum vote.
SGA President Andy Rollins said the tour was conducted to show students “how beneficial a student center is, in so many different ways. The student centers we saw were the hubs of campus – all students gathered and spent time there, studying or socializing. Laurentian really doesn’t have that kind of space at the moment, and I think creating that connection and culture around a student center would be beneficial for students.”
The nine-person group toured Wilfrid Laurier, King’s University College, University of Western Ontario and Fanshawe College’s student union centers.
“The reasons we picked these schools was because we wanted to see a variety of different schools, and we wanted to show students a student center that has all the amenities we are looking for in a new student center,” said Rollins. “We also wanted to show students some bigger schools, and where we could be in the future.”
Students who accompanied the SGA executive on the tour will now help educate the SGA student body on what other student centers are like, how they function and if they are beneficial.
“We now have a small core of students who have a wealth of knowledge about the benefits of having a student center, and a wealth of knowledge about the referendum,” said Rollins. “They can now go and disseminate that information to the rest of the student body.”
In a de-briefing meeting that will happen this week,students and representatives will decide what they thought what was positive and what was negative about the four student centers viewed.
Rollins believes that what will be the hardest point to convince students on – paying more for a student center they may not necessarily be here to benefit from – is an investment in the future of Laurentian.
If the referendum for the student center passes, students will pay for the $10 million student center through the course of a thirty-year tiered system: the first year of construction the SGA would charge a $40 student fee, the second year an $80 fee, and every year after that, for 28 years, a $114 fee.
“We aren’t just throwing away money – we’re investing it. We’re investing in ourselves when we build this student center, even in the number of student jobs that will create,” said Rollins. “The amount of money we are going to be putting back into the students is way more than we’re going to be paying.”
This is the first time the SGA has actively campaigned for a student referendum vote. The vote will be included in the 2014-2015 SGA elections taking place March 19 and 20.