Queen’s Centre fee approved

The current and new AMS executive faced some tough questions Tuesday night at the AMS Annual General Meeting regarding a motion brought forward to ensure future students help fund the Queen’s Centre project.

The motion passed with 88 votes in favour, seven opposed and 12 abstentions.

The motion called for the establishment of a mandatory student fee in support of the construction of the Queen’s Centre at next year’s Annual General Meeting.

The motion was moved by AMS president Chrissie Knitter and seconded by AMS president-elect Tyler Turnbull.

Engineering Society president John Mould proposed during the meeting to amend the motion to establish the fee by Apr. 1, 2005 instead of at this year’s Annual General Meeting.

By making this amendment, the Queen’s Centre fee could have been taken to referendum, Mould said.

Debate ensued for more than half an hour and the amendment failed with 65 votes against, 56 votes for and five abstentions.

Tom Woodhall, Sci ’05 and EngSoc representative at AMS Assembly for next year, supported Mould’s amendment.

“It was very important that we didn’t rush into these decisions,” he said in an interview with the Journal.

Woodhall said it was not the fee that was the reason for the amendment but rather the process.

“We were in support of this fee in principle; we wanted to make sure there was adequate time given to figure out which method [referendum or Annual General Meeting] to implement the fee was best,” he said.

Knitter said she feels next year’s Annual General Meeting is the best place to make the decision.

“Student representatives are elected to make decisions on behalf of other students and are trusted to make long-term decisions that will impact students for decades,” she said.

“I think it allows for information to be disseminated over a period of a year and it means it can be debated in a forum where students can have their questions answered immediately,” she said.

Woodhall disagreed.

“If information is part of their campaign for the Queen’s Centre, a referendum [would] help create awareness,” he said.

The original motion was amended before the final vote to mandate next year’s AMS council to educate the student body about the fee as well as inform them of the Annual General Meeting.

Knitter said the fee will be established in phases. The original fee amount will not be increased until the first phase of the project is operational.

According to the appendix of the motion, the fee will not contribute to the operational cost of the centre, just the capital costs.

Although the numbers aren’t final, the Queen’s Centre is projected to cost between $125 million and $150 million.

Knitter said that other Canadian universities that are in a similar situation have student contributions between $30 and $150.

Knitter said she was very happy the motion passed and it continues the long tradition of students financially contributing to building projects at the University.

“It is really important for students to understand that many of the facilities we use today were paid for by students who never got to see them operational, [such as] Grant Hall, the JDUC, the PEC and Clark Hall,” she said.

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