Top campus news stories for 2011-12

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GIE building announced

The not-so-beloved St. Michael’s campus eventually met its demise this year, as the first phase of construction for the Global Innovation Exchange (GIE) building was put into effect. Announced on June 20, the GIE building, which is the new home for school of business and economics at Laurier, will be four storeys, hold seven new lecture halls and a theatre auditorium that will have a maximum capacity of 1,000 persons.

However, this extensive project couldn’t have been done without the generous $72.6 million investment from the province of Ontario.

“One of the underlying principles this is going to address is integrating the business school much more into the community,” said Ginny Dybenko, the former Laurier executive: strategic initiatives and dean for the school of business, following the announcement.

But funding is not completed and the university still needs to acquire $30 million, which is to be primarily done through fundraising and donations from alumni and the private sector. The university hopes to have the new building to be completed by 2014.

*Aramark takeover causes communication issues

On June 9, in an e-mail sent to all Laurier students, the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union announced that the Terrace food court would be under the control of Aramark, a food services company for many universities and hospitals across Canada. Though the building still remains under WLUSU’s control, Aramark — who also operate the dining hall— would manage the existing vendors, employees and any new additions to the food court.

With the implementation of Spring Rolls and the renovation of Union Market and Ah So Sushi, Aramark had quite the task by coming in as the new management team, especially since most of the employees had to adjust to their model. But this transition caused some discontent, because of issues with, according to current and previous employees, a removal of student managers and overall communication.

“Everyone that has been involved in this process will admit some communication challenges,” explained Nick Gibson, president and CEO of WLUSU. “They’ve [Terrace employees] been saying that communication has been the biggest thing.”

Brantford not happy with WLUSU

Students from the Wilfrid Laurier University Brantford campus weren’t too happy with the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union this year, primarily because of the restructured multi-campus governance model and hiring processes.

Their dissent was especially felt at the Jan. 25 WLUSU board meeting, where approximately 50 Laurier Brantford students attended the meeting. Due to the large public presence, the meeting had to be moved from their designated boardroom by their offices to the Ernst and Young boardroom.

With the elimination of the Brantford Campus Council (BCC) and other structural changes, Brantford students felt as if they were losing their voice and representation in WLUSU affairs.

“The students that are not involved, they don’t see any of the transparency, they don’t see any collaboration at all with Brantford and they are upset about that,” Nick Savage, external affairs coordinator for WLUSU Brantford, told The Cord.

Fall reading week/O-Week debate

Some WLUSU volunteers, in particular orientation week icebreakers, were enraged to discover that the administration was trying to implement a two-day reading break at the end of October for the 2012-13 year. According to the proposal, students at Laurier would have had to start classes on the Thursday of O-Week as opposed to the following Monday. O-Week activities and programming would not have been cut and would have still run until the Saturday.

As the dialogue for student mental health becomes increasingly prevalent, this two-day reading week was supposed to give students a short break from academic responsibilities. The proposal didn’t pass through the university’s senate, and many students remained conflicted on whether or not it was a good idea.

“These two days, although they aren’t going to solve the entire problem [of student mental health], are a really big first step,” stressed Stephen Franchetto, a third-year student and avid WLUSU volunteer.

Wilf’s suffers serious damage

Students at Laurier had some trouble getting their weekly dose of spinach dip this year because Wilf’s, along with the Terrace, suffered considerable water damage in late October. While the Terrace would re-open a couple of days later, Wilf’s was closed until late January. However, issues with mould would resurface a month later causing another closure for the Terrace in late November.

“This was a sewer back-up, and is what in the restoration industry is called a ‘category three’ or black water back-up, loaded up with anything that can be drained into a sanitary drain — kitchens, washrooms, grease traps, the works,” WLUSU general manager Michael McMahon explained at the time of the incident, noting that their insurance covered all the costs.

The absence of the cherished student pub caused many disruptions to students’ weekly plans. As compensation WLUSU offered free food for a week before it opened. The restaurant also received a heavy facelift, with a refurbished bar, kitchen and furniture set.

Sultani steps down from WLUSU election

Every year the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union elections make a significant impression on campus, but this time it was slightly different. After campaigning for the full two weeks up until the presidential open forum, Zahra Sultani stepped down from the race and threw her support behind Michael Onabolu, the eventual winner of the election.

“There was a false equity complaint submitted against me and there were some rumours going around about, I guess, me making racial slurs and making racist comments about other groups of people,” said Sultani, noting that as her main reason for stepping down.

With these allegations, the diversity office at Laurier investigated the matters even further. As a result of Sultani’s resignation from the presidential race, Onabolu, Jenny Solda and Nolan Kreis were the remaining candidates, one day before voting online opened. Onabolu was elected into the position with 52.4 per cent of the vote, with Solda in second and Kreis in third.

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