By: Yukon Damov
After eight years of negotiations, it appears as if students will have to wait just over 18 months before they stroll into the new Student Commons. University of Toronto administration and the University of Toronto Students’ Union both agree that they are nearing an agreement, possibly as soon as Friday.
“We’re still in the negotiating process, but we’re nearing the end,” said UTSU president Shaun Shepherd.
Shepherd’s optimism is shared by U of T vice-president, operations, Scott Mabury. “I believe the ‘agreement’ is close to being final as we are exchanging near final language on the last remaining items.”
“Once the agreement is finalized and signed I expect the ‘project planning report’ for the renovation of 230 College Street would begin the journey through governance for approval,” continued Mabury. ”Once we have approval then an architect selection process begins…the architects will work with the project committee to design the project which will be tendered for a contractor who will do the work.”
While the idea for a centralized student space dates back to just after World War Two, the Student Commons’ latest iteration has been in development since 2005, when the university administration struck a planning committee to review the current model of atomized student-activity space. In 2008, students voted in an UTSU referendum to pay $20 million of the projected $30 million cost for the Commons; the University will cover the rest. Hence the $5 per session UTSU levy currently paid for the capital cost and a $20.75 per session for operational costs once the Commons opens.
The Commons will “house club offices, levy group space, meeting rooms, commuter space, lounges, rehearsal space, construction space, a student-operated cafeteria with vegan, Halal and Kosher food options, and U.T.S.U. services including a cheap copy shop, food bank and a permanent used textbook exchange,” according to the UTSU website.
Shepherd said that should fee diversion occur, the seceding membership will have full access to the Commons, but non-UTSU members, clubs, and levy groups will not be able to access UTSU services nor book spaces.
This article was originally published on our old website at https://thenewspaper.ca/news/student-commons-coming-soon/.