AMS could move to remote workplace if SLC fee fails at winter referendum

Increased JDUC costs might be unsustainable for student society

2019 rendering of JDUC redevelopment obtained by ‘The Journal’ through Freedom of Information request.

Four days ahead of the AMS referendum, the AMS still won’t disclose the impact of increased costs in the new JDUC building.

If the Student Life Centre (SLC) fee doesn’t pass, the AMS admitted it won’t be able to afford specific spaces currently allocated to the society, and said “difficult decisions” will have to be made to determine how to use the new JDUC.

When asked how operations at the AMS will continue in the event some offices or services are moved out of the building, the AMS said it has achieved its IT goal of moving all major operating systems into the cloud so the organization can work remotely should these circumstances arise.

In the fourth installment of The Journals JDUC series, The Journal asked the AMS about the full cost breakdown and space allocations in the new JDUC building for the undergraduate student society—especially since the Student Life Centre (SLC) fee is seeing a $5.96 increase meant to cover increased costs for the project.

READ MORE: JDUC $23 million over budget, students pay

Despite reaching out for both interviews and comment, the AMS still won’t paint a full picture of what’s going on.

Increased costs since demolition

AMS services and offices once housed in the JDUC temporarily moved into smaller spaces in the Queen’s Centre, La Salle, and Rideau Hall while their new home is under construction in 2022.

Under a Freedom of Information request, The Journal learned the cost per square metre for both AMS spaces in La Salle and Rideau Halls is $181.24, amounting to a total cost of $289,059 each year as per an agreement signed between the University and the AMS.

The agreement is meant to be a short-term solution while the JDUC is under construction and has been in operation since May 2022. The agreement is set to expire in May 2024.

According to The Journal’s calculations based on records obtained under a Freedom of Request, the cost per square foot for some AMS services has increased, despite these services being housed in units that are significantly smaller than their previous JDUC location.

Once housed in a 539.7 square-metre unit in the JDUC, the Tricolour Outlet now occupies a garage in Rideau Hall that is five times smaller. Despite its tenancy in a smaller space, the cost per square foot for the AMS retailer has increased by $21.78 since moving.

READ MORE: JDUC blueprints change, impact not disclosed by the AMS or University

According to the AMS, the full cost breakdown per square metre for the new JDUC has yet to be determined, given that these figures are still under negotiation with the University. Despite this, the AMS confirmed certain operating costs for the society’s share of the building have increased by approximately 70 per cent from the old JDUC building. The operating costs are covered through a combination of AMS services’ operating budget and through the SLC student activity fee.

Though The Journal inquired twice about the difference in operating costs from the old JDUC to La Salle and Rideau Halls, the AMS declined to provide a cost breakdown per square metre.

Reclaiming student spaces

The SLC fee was ratified at AMS Assembly last month. In seeking the SLC fee increase, AMS President Kate McCuaig said the $5.96 number was agreed upon by the AMS and the University, though the University initially argued to have the fee increased further to foot the bill for operating costs.

“The SLC fee is critical and necessary funding to operate both the JDUC and non-athletic portion of the Queen’s Centre so that Queen’s students have places to meet, socialize, and study outside of their academic classrooms,” said Mikayla Crawford, AMS communications director, in a statement to The Journal.

READ MORE: AMS executive candidates and SLC fee ratified

Because the AMS is a non-profit corporation and doesn’t generate profits, the SLC fee increase is necessary to pay the costs to operate spaces housing AMS ratified clubs, AMS offices, and services.

“We’re asking students to vote yes for the increase we believe is necessary and fair and reflects the good faith agreements that have existed over the past decade between the AMS, SGPS and the University and the partnership students have entered into in 2019 with the University to embark on a revitalized JDUC that will be a stunning ‘show piece’ at the centre of Queen’s campus that all of the Queen’s community can be proud of for decades to come,” the statement said.

The JDUC project is funded through a $62.3 million contribution from undergraduate students, and a $9.152 million contribution from graduate students.

Based on figures from enrolment data in the five years since the JDUC redevelopment fee has been in effect, undergraduate students have paid $6 million of the undergraduate contribution.

To meet the $62.3 million undergraduate contribution, it will take 37 years of undergraduates paying the JDUC fee for the building to be paid off.

Corrections

February 5, 2024

A previous of version of this article did not make it clear the AMS wouldn’t be able to afford spaces only if the SLC fee didn’t pass. Incorrect information was published in the Feb. 2 issue of The Queen’s Journal.

The Journal regrets the error

Tags

Election2024, JDUC, JDUC Revitalization Investigation, SLC, winter referendum

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

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