SAITSA has collected $2.5 million for a new student building, but the cash stash could be available for other uses next year, if that’s what students want.
Matthew Anderson, the vice-president external for the SAITSA executive, has confirmed that the plan to build a new building on campus could be changed if students vote not to extend a fee increase for that purpose.
“If there’s a lot of students upset, we’re going to re-evaluate,” Armstrong said in a recent interview.
“If students say ‘[the building’s] not what we want,’ we will change that direction,” he said.
Students are footing the bill for a proposed student association building that would be owned and run by the SAITSA.
Approximately 40 per cent ($120) of SAIT student fees go towards the SAITSA building fund, said Armstrong.
Student fees have been increasing by roughly $30 a year since 2008 to fund the building, which Armstrong says would be a place where students can relax.
Next year, the final year of the fee increase, students will contribute $150 from their fees to the building fund. The fee is up for review at that point.
Armstrong said the fee hasn’t been evaluated recently because SAITSA has not heard concerns.
“That doesn’t mean they’re not out there, it just means we’re not hearing from those students,” said Armstrong.
The vice president external is open to reviewing the fees this year if students are concerned with the fees.
And if students are unhappy with SAITSA’s plans for the growing fund, Armstrong said SAITSA will scrap its’ current idea of a student association building.
News that the building’s funding is coming out of student pockets has left some with mixed feelings.
“[The building] is a good idea, but for me personally, I don’t have that to spend. I’m barely paying for it as it is,” said Wesley Chow, a business administration student.
Contributions to the building fund should be optional, said Mitchell Macleod, a second-year business administration student.
“You should have a say on if you want to donate or if you don’t,” said Macleod.
Some students disappointment that their fees will fund a building they will most likely be unable to enjoy by the time it’s completed.
“It’s unfortunate that they are taking from current students for future students,” said SAIT student, Dave Hanson.
Armstrong admitted that it “sucks” to have to pay for future projects. But he noted that the buildings and services that SAIT students enjoy today, like the Gateway and Odyssey, are here because previous students paid into them.
Rebecca Diehl, a first-year petroleum engineer technology student, doesn’t mind SAITSA taking a large chunk of her fees to better campus life for future SAIT students.
“If it helps students out, then I’m all for it,” said Diehl.
“I probably won’t still be here, so I won’t be reaping the benefits of it, but, I’m reaping the benefits of stuff that people before me did,” she added.
Armstrong encourages students to bring their concerns to SAITSA.
“If there are concerns, I want to hear about them,” he said. “Send me an email, call me, leave me a voicemail, talk to me in the hallways.
Armstrong said if it is built, the student centre would be a place for students to enjoy themselves.
“Ideally this building will have some common spaces where you can…hang out with your friends, and do the things other than studying that make the experience really what it’s all about when you talk about going to college of university,” the vice president said.
He said he’d like also like to provide office space for the clubs in the proposed building, and centralize SAITSA operations.
“The current vision is to make sure we have a building that lets us operate with students first in mind and have the services they want and the kind of events it seems that they want on campus.”
Between $2 million and $2.5 million has been collected for the fund so far, but Armstrong said that’s nowhere near what the fund will need to be.
To purchase one of the current buildings on campus, SAITSA would need $10 million, said Armstrong. Constructing a building on campus is also an option.
“It’s all going to come down to SAIT. They are all SAIT buildings and it really depends on their vision for each and every one of them,” said Armstrong.
As for when the building will be up and running, Armstrong said the timeline depends on what building the association decides to go with.
If SAITSA purchases an existing building on campus, Armstrong said students could see the building in the next five years.
Armstrong said constructing a new building could take between five to 10 years.