Just over a month ago, current MacEwan University students ensured that future generations will be able to enjoy the perks of a students’ association building. On Oct. 28 and 29, 77.38 per cent of student voters approved the construction of a building for the Students’ Association of MacEwan University. The voter turnout was approximately 9 per cent of the student population.
“Without that vote, we couldn’t continue on [with the project]. We’d have to go back to the drawing board,” says Brittany Pitruniak, president of the Students’ Association of MacEwan University.
Unfortunately, 9 per cent is a pretty low voter turnout for such a huge undertaking. ”The kickback we had was some students saying, ‘Oh well, I’m not going to be here, so why should I make a decision?’” says Pitruniak. “[And] you may not be here to actually use the building as a student, but it’s a public building. You can go in, you can check it out, and you can say, ‘I voted for this.’”
A major factor in establishing this building is, of course, the cost for the students. The construction of a building is no small task, so the cost for the new building will be $35 per student per semester. It took a lot of research to come to that number, though.
“We didn’t just pull out $35 a term because we felt like it was a good number,” says Pitruniak. “We did our research. We looked across Canada. We even looked into the United States. That’s $70 for a typical year.”
It’s important to note that current students won’t have to pay a dime for the building, unless they are still here when the building is finished and functional. The building levy will only be applied to student fees once the building opens. “That is something we were very keen on,” says Pitruniak.
Lack of study space is another big conversation topic on campus. Many students find that the current study space situation is not up to snuff with what they expect from an academic institution. The SAMU building’s construction is a direct response to that conversation; the building will have an ample amount of study space. “We’re students ourselves, so I get it,” says Pitruniak. “Sitting on the carpet — not the ideal.”
Food is a big concern for MacEwan students as well. The main critique is the small selection of food choices that students are offered in the cafeterias in Building 6 and Building 9. Aramark currently manages food services in MacEwan, but SAMU promises to offer new and different food options in the new building.
“I don’t think we’d be doing any of our students a service by bringing in Pizza 73, Starbucks and Booster Juice… We can bring in La Poutine if we wanted to, or A&W, or any franchises like that too,” says Pitruniak. She adds that SAMU plans to lease the space, and Aramark won’t be running food services in the building.
Another concern for MacEwan students is the support for clubs on campus. According to Pitruniak, clubs are currently renting lockers for storage space of their club resources, a cost that is being paid by the clubs’ operating funds. Clubs have also had troubles being able to plan events and meetings easily, which is something that the new building will address.
“[The building has] space that is prioritized for clubs,” says Pitruniak. “That’s bookable rooms, technology, all already wrapped in there. For their events, we’re going to have a separate event space. They need that support. They’re doing great things.”
All in all, the SAMU building will be a space solely dedicated to the students and their best interests. This means more study space, more food options, and more operating room for the clubs students. With no fees charged until the building is actually open, the mood surrounding the new building can only be excited and hopeful.
“We are at the heart of our city,” says Pitruniak, “and where this building is going is at the heart of the campus.”
Image supplied by SAMU.