Students’ Union approves spending
On June 12, Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union board of directors met to evaluate the capital expenditures budget for the 2010-2011 academic year.
Seven projects were presented and approved by the board, amounting to a total cost of over $250,000 to be funded by the union and the Student Life Levy (SLL).
The most debated item presented to the board was a proposal for a WLUSU smartphone application. This initiative was proposed as a response to last year’s market research results that found students did not feel they were a part of the union.
WLUSU president Kyle Walker explained that the app would provide students with alerts on the activities and events that they choose to receive.
“We live in a day and age where people expect information to be brought to them,” explained Walker. “Whereas our website right now, they have to go find that information.”
As this was the only project to pass with two votes against it, Walker attributed some of the concern to the uncertainty of its results.
Director Jon Pryce, who voted against the project, explained he did not believe that a smartphone application would improve WLUSU-student relations at the moment.
“What we have to do is first try to gain the trust of our customers, which is … the undergraduates at Laurier,” he said.
Pryce cited the figure that only 54 per cent of students have smartphones and noted there was no guarantee that they would be interested in the application.
“They continuously said that it will be right in your pocket, information right in your pocket. Well, you also have lint in your pocket, it doesn’t mean it’s useful, right?” said Pryce.
While Walker claimed that the cost for such a project would only increase in time as the demand for similar projects increased, Pryce disagreed arguing that technology prices only go down over time.
“I just think that if the price did go down and there was a larger market then we would be able to have a more efficient application economically and effectively on campus,” Pryce concluded.
Walker however echoed the approval by the rest of the board and management, saying, “The price we’re paying is good value for what we’re probably going to get out of it,”
Another digital addition that received unanimous approval from the board is the installation of eight new LCD screens in the Fred Nichols Campus Centre (FNCC).
“It was something I talked to Kyle Walker about as soon as I got the proposals because I thought it was interesting because he was against these LCD screens during the election and then sort of flip flopped and now he’s on board with them,” said Kyle Hocking, chair of the board.
Seen as a mechanism to improve WLUSU-student relations by providing information on the union and campus partners, the project funded by the SLL was well received.
“Wilf’s and the Turret, neither achieved their cost budget for liquor service for over the last year,” stated Mike McMahon, general manager for WLUSU.
In light of the losses in liquor sales, an alcohol management system was approved for both bars.
The system will dispense alcohol through hand-held guns with the liquor supply attached separately, calculating the amount of alcohol being poured for sale and preventing any dripping or spilling.
“We have to use the technology available to make sure that we meet our costs and take the pressure off our servers,” explained McMahon. “The system is literally paid for by those savings if we just meet our budget.”
The new system will also increase the speed of service, which the union anticipates will increase sales.
The most costly project at $74,580 of which $39,000 will be funded by the SLL are renovations to the third floor of the FNCC.
Part of the project will incorporate the addition of a collaborative workspace, adding eight computer stations with over-sized monitors, beside the Foot Patrol office.
Much like the existing computer labs on campus, the workspace will be available for all Laurier students to use.
The WLUSU offices will also receive a renovation, specifically to improve the finance department and move the staff lunch area. The changes will temporarily remove the offices for the general manager and chair of the board for the year, requiring them to work out of the marketing lab.
This will be corrected with anticipated renovations in the following year to make the union offices more inviting to the student body.
“The next phase will go to next year’s board, and that’s where we’re going to revamp the entire office space and make it more open concept, so no closed doors, no offices, and working modular stations floating in the middle of the area,” explained Walker.
Second phase plans for the renovations will be researched over the course of this year and brought forward to the 2011-2012 board.
Less extensive renovations include improvements to the Pita Shack by moving the front counter and adding a steaming oven to keep chicken warm to improve the business’s efficiency.
“We found that with the revamped counter that was installed in the last reno, there wasn’t enough room behind it for the staff to work,” explained Walker.
New seating on the back stage of Wilf’s will be added to accommodate large groups such as residence floors to improving the speed of service.
All the projects passed at the board meeting will begin immediately in anticipation for completion by the fall.
“Really what we’re calling them now is summer projects because there’s no reason why all of these can’t be done by the end of the summer,” said Walker.
$36,000 — Smartphone app development
$48,520 — Alcohol management system
$48,722 — LCD screens for the FNCC
$74,580 — FNCC 3rd floor renovations