After campaigning for a new student space for the Faculty of Arts, Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) President Harsev Oshan, along with AUS VP Admin David Pasca, has started to move forward on his promise.
“We got the ball rolling by speaking to [AMS designer] Michael Kingsmill, who has mentored us on the project ever since the beginning of mid-summer, and we’ve made enormous progress so far,” said Pasca.
Oshan said he has already presented a design of the building to the dean of Arts. The concept design currently entails a freestanding building with space for club storage, food services, a merchandise area, studying and guest lectures.
Pasca said the site for the space hasn’t been finalized, but it could go on the west side of Buchanan A.
Oshan is aware of the recent difficulties that the Engineering Undergraduate Society (EUS) has had over control of their new student space. “Currently we have total control of MASS and we would like to have that,” said Oshan. “But if engineering falls under that contract, it’s going to be very hard for us to stand up to the university and say, no, we want the contract to be like this.”
Vice-President Students Louise Cowan seemed to suggest that the AUS will run into similar issues as the EUS, saying, “While there is no formal policy of the university regarding this matter, the university does wish to take a consistent approach to the management of faculty student social spaces.”
For now, Oshan and Pasca are focused on engaging students in a discussion about the new space and preparing for the referendum in February that will determine whether the Arts student body supports the building. “We need a referendum question to establish a student space fund,” said Oshan.
Currently the cost of the building is estimated at $5.4 million, of which the AUS would have to raise $2.5 million. “Right now as it stands, it’s around $42-46 a year per student if we’re going to have it for five years. But we haven’t really set in stone how much we will charge students,” said Oshan.
Gul Arzu Gulsen, a second-year Arts student, sees the benefits to the space but is hesitant about the associated fee. “We have the SUB being built and that’s already coming out of our pockets and I think we should take it one step at the time,” she said.
Both Pasca and Oshan believe that the Arts student space is something worth investing in. “We do have 12,000 students who are under-represented on campus. They do not have a lot of space that is dedicated to them to study, to do their recreation, so we want to have a space that people can build a community around,” said Pasca.
The referendum on the student space fund will be held from Feb. 4-15.