SAITSA pushing to get out referendum vote for proposed new HQ

The SAIT Students’ Association (SAITSA) is hoping its efforts to educate students on the proposed SAITSA HQ building will bring out the vote for the upcoming referendum.

Since early October when SAITSA revealed plans for the new SAITSA HQ and called for a student referendum Nov. 4-6, the students’ association has been on a campaign to get students informed about the project.

“As the infamous Walt Disney once said, ‘you can build and create, and create the most wonderful place in the world, but it’s the people who make that dream a reality,’”  SAITSA President Brigitte Matheson said.

Using a variety of tools, such as social media, posters around campus and volunteers collecting feedback on the building and spreading the word about the referendum, the students’ association has been trying to catch the attention of the student body. SAITSA needs five per cent of the student body to vote and two-thirds to vote in favour for the project to go ahead.

Part of its efforts have included two “think tank” nights, hosted at the SAITSA-operated coffee house, The Odyssey.

“It’s been a really good way to inform students that have some skepticism, especially about what the restricted building fund is,” Matheson said.

The think tank events were set up to serve a casual audience, and were quickly repeated as different groups of students wandered by. The audience was rarely more than 20 people.

“We didn’t want it to be a big commitment for students to come in, so we’ve been going through it as the waves come in. If it’s just one or two students, that’s where the volunteers and staff come in to directly answer questions,” Matheson said during the think tanks.

George Sachyk had no intention or knowledge of the event before he showed up at The Odyssey.

“I was just going here anyways; I was going to the coffee shop to do some work,” said the business administration freshman. “I saw that it was happening and decided to sit down.”

Among the many details discussed at the event, SAITSA said it is committed to including more club space in the proposed building – something that club leaders like Connor Goodfellow have been waiting for.

“I need to put about 20 more sticky notes up (on the board) that say ‘Club Space,’” Goodfellow said.

Late last year, the second-year architectural technologies student helped to create the Tabletop Gaming Alliance Club. Goodfellow found it difficult to find space for his club to meet, as it had all been booked previously.

For first-year IT student Nicholas McCurry, the information presented at the think tank was instrumental in his decision-making.

“I was trying to convince myself one way or another, if I should vote yes or no,” he said. “I think (the event) helped me (decide), because the money can either sit there, or go toward a building. It’s not like we can change it or revert the fee.”

One of the focuses of the evening was collecting feedback on what students were looking for in the building. A variety of suggestions were made through the evening, including 24/7 access.

If the referendum passes, the plans will be outlined in more detail, and then communicated to students through platforms like Student Bulletin e-mails.

Plans Presented: A student crouches in front of concept illustrations of the proposed student headquarters building, on display in the Odyssey. (Photo by Alex Jackson/The Press)
Plans Presented: A student crouches in front of concept illustrations of the proposed student headquarters building, on display in the Odyssey. (Photo by Alex Jackson/The Press)
About Alex Jackson 4 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Alex Jackson worked as a reporter for The Press during the 2015-16 academic year.