2-4 Lounge renovation retroactively funded

The renovations to the 2-4 Lounge before the 2011-12 school year were just paid off thanks to the 2012-13 Student Life Levy. (File photo by Nick Lachance).
The renovations to the 2-4 Lounge before the 2011-12 school year were just paid off thanks to the 2012-13 Student Life Levy. (File photo by Nick Lachance).

The 2012 to 2013 Student Life Levy (SLL) fund, which collected $1,039,515.49 from students, gave $88,000 to the 2-4 Lounge renovations that happened in the 2011-12 year, because the project had yet to be fully paid for.

At the time of the renovation project, the majority of the money came from the 2011-12 SLL, and the remaining $88,000 was covered by the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union operating budget. The money taken from this year’s SLL is essentially being given back to WLUSU’s operating budget to make up for the costs.

Rob Donelson, the vice-president of development and alumni relations at Laurier, explained that the SLL funds are allocated based on which projects will have stronger impacts on students.

“What we try to do is weigh projects all together to see which ones would have the greatest impact on students, and so the amount that they get is dependent on how much money we have available and comparing the request to other requests that we have,” he said.

According to Michael Onabolu, the current president and CEO of WLUSU as well as one of the SLL committee members, the amount of SLL funds given to the renovation project when it first started “wasn’t enough to actually account for the full cost of the project, so we just went back to saying can we recoup the rest of what this project was actually intended to pay for, so that was the whole purpose there.”

He explained that the money from this year’s SLL is — when looked at on paper — being given back to WLUSU.

“That’s essentially what it works out to,” he added. Onabolu also explained that the $88,000 needed to be paid back to WLUSU’s operating budget because it was directly related to the roughly $6-million debt that WLUSU is currently facing.

“Now, being completely transparent, part of that money that would have paid for the renovation obviously would have come in the form of debt financing, so since we already have debt, it can go against that debt,” he said. “A lot of that debt was [from] capital projects, and this would have been a capital project.”

He further explained that WLUSU’s operating budget is not intended for the same type of projects that the SLL advocates for, and the SLL is strictly for projects that will directly benefit students.

According to Onabolu, the SLL committee decided to allocate this money back to the renovation project in order to cover the rest of the cost so that WLUSU wasn’t footing the bill for a project it didn’t put forward.

With the $88,000 being given back, the full cost for the renovation project will now be paid off.
While Onabolu was not entirely sure as to why WLUSU footed the rest of the renovation bill at the time, he expressed that he expected that money to be repaid from the SLL funds.

“It’s truly the best way for us to utilize our dollars that are provided to us by students, is to do the things that are expected by us, which is to advocate on their behalf and to get more study space if possible,” he said.

Donelson echoed these sentiments and explained that many students on the SLL committee were adamant to give money back to the renovation project because it is a popular space that is commonly used by many students.

“I think it was seen to be a really important project by the students and it was a project that a lot of students benefit from, and it seemed to be of great value to a lot of students,” he concluded.

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