Students vote in favour to build new students’ association building on main campus
A new student-owned building—which will house the Gateway, meeting spaces, lounges, study areas, offices and more—officially entered the planning stages after students voted in favour in a referendum on Nov. 4 to 6 to release funds towards the project.
The referendum allows SAIT Students’ Association (SAITSA) to use funds collected over the past six years for a $25 million student-owned building, to be located near the LRT tracks between the Campus Centre and Cohos Commons Field.
“This is a really big step for SAIT students as a community,” said Brigitte Matheson, SAITSA president, noting this step was a long time coming.
In 2009, a restricted building fund was created and ever since $120 from every full-time student per year was collected for the sole use of a new students’ building.
The referendum required at least 5 per cent voter turnout in order to pass. It had a 13.2 per cent turnout, with 88 per cent of voters in favour of releasing the funds.
The project is expected to cost $25 million, and the restricted building fund will have $7.9 million after this current fiscal year. The rest of the building’s costs will be borrowed.
Matheson said there will be “absolutely no increase in student fees,” however it is still too early to lower student fees. Once the building’s final costs and operating budget is determined, then SAITSA will conduct an analysis into reducing fees.
Initial plans for the building calls for four floors, around 10,000 square-feet each. The building will have similar square footage as the Cenovus Energy Centre.
The layout and design are yet to be determined, but the final plans will have input from SAITSA, SAIT, and students.
“We have a skeleton drafted already,” said Matheson, including more student club space, meeting room, and potentially nap rooms, and SAITSA intends to “make sure the building encompasses all of SAIT’s programs and students.”
The project is expected to take around two to three years, although Matheson noted that might change depending on SAIT’s requirements and the design.
With the referendum now complete, it is up to SAITSA and the Board of Governors to finalize the design and budget.
“I think it is very important that we continue to consult with students,” said Matheson, who was elected in March.
“Officially we don’t need any more approval, but it is important that we still consult and ask for their consent and approval that it is actually what they want.”
Matheson encouraged students to share their thoughts about a new building—including ideas and wishes—by going to www.saitsahq.com or emailing email@example.com.