Board approves $147k for capital budget

After three hours of presentations and much deliberation, the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union board of directors approved three of the four capital projects that were drafted by the union’s management team. The capital expenditures will upgrade some of the technology used throughout WLUSU and provide new venues for student services.

The first presentation made by Codi Costello, WLUSU vice-president of campus clubs and faculty associations, featured a plan to turn a section of the Hawk’s Nest into an office for campus clubs. The project, budgeted at $60,180, was intended to provide the approximate 3,000 club members with a meeting space, storage, mailboxes and point of contact with the campus club co-ordinators.

Addressing concerns about the operations of the Hawk’s Nest with the bar area demolished to create the new office, bar operations manager Jeyas Balaskanthan told the board that it would not harm the catering services that would continue being hosted out of the remaining space.

As the discussion progressed, the board became increasingly concerned with moving campus clubs to the fourth floor of the Fred Nichols Campus Centre — away from the rest of the third floor offices — and if the resources in the space actually met the needs of campus clubs.

Director Luke Dotto commented that he felt moving campus clubs to the fourth floor would “create another silo,” alienating the department from the rest of the union. Sharing similar reservations, with much experience in faculty associations, director Chris Oberle said, “I don’t think this space represents what clubs actually needs.”

Ultimately, the motion to approve the transformation of the Hawk’s Nest into an office for campus clubs failed, with only directors Jonathan Collaton and Andrew Chudnovsky voting in favour of it.

The projects that were approved included an upgrade of the WLUSU website, the development of a “Union Desk” kiosk, and the replacement of Foot Patrol’s radios.

The new website, slated to cost $40,000, will not only improve on aesthetics but also provide more interaction with users and decrease the long-term costs of managing the site, according to WLUSU marketing and communications manager Kat Lourenco.

The new site, in addition to integrating social media and providing a portal for student to engage with each other and the union, would also provide space for advertising and endorsement, potentially offsetting the $3,600 annual cost of hosting the website and becoming a source of revenue.

On creating a more interactive platform, Lourenco said, “This isn’t about selling to students, this is about giving them added value.”

With the current website that was approved by the 2008-09 board costing over $100,000 and failing to create the dialogue with students that it was intended for, director Sunny Chan suggested that frequent updates on the development and function of the website should be provided to the board in the coming years. Lourenco acknowledged this by assuring that she wanted the board’s involvement in developing the website.

After the website was passed unanimously, the same approval was given to the construction of the U Desk.

Kyle Walker, former WLUSU president and current member services manager for the union, presented the plans for a services kiosk to be built in the hall of fame, opposite of International News (formerly the Centre Spot) and Wilf’s.

The Union Desk (U Desk) will provide services, such as ticket sales for Greyhound Canada and information regarding Grand River Transit, which were previously housed at the C-Spot and are no longer available at any location because International News has taken over the retail space.

The desk will also offer information regarding the health and dental plan offered to students through WLUSU and help students with services such as booking rooms on campus. “We’re trying to get everything in one central location in a high-traffic area,” explained Walker, on why these services will be brought to this specific location with hopes of better accessing students.

As the largest item approved, the U Desk has been budgeted at $79,159.83 on top of an additional $36,585.17 that has already been set aside for the project.

The final project budgeted $25,000 to replace and update Foot Patrol’s technology — specifically their radio system. Of the current ten radios the service has, four are broken. None of the radios work off-campus, which is where most of the walks they provide occur.

The university has offered a grant of $12,500 that will be deducted from the actual cost budgeted for the radios.

In addition to the total expense being passed, director Oberle motioned, with full board approval, to ensure that WLUSU also consider providing new radios to the Brantford campus’s program as well if they are needed.

For a follow-up on the board and management’s reaction to the capital expenditures, read the full story in the print edition of The Cord on stands June 29.

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