SGPS needs final stance

The Society of Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS) said last week it has no plans to contribute the $4.5 million from them outlined in the Queen’s Centre budget. SGPS President Arash Farzam-Kia said he can’t recall any agreement between the University and the SGPS that states it will contribute financially to the project. Any student fee for the Queen’s Centre would have to pass at a graduate student referendum.

A Queen’s Centre student working group discussed a $30 million student contribution to the project in 2005, divided based on student population: the AMS would contribute $25.5 million, leaving $4.5 million to the SGPS.

The agreement signed by the AMS guaranteeing undergraduates’ $25.5 million included a clause that read the University would use “its best efforts” to ensure the SGPS contribution, but clearly their best efforts aren’t effective. Vice-Principal (Operations and Finances) Andrew Simpson said the University’s still hoping for a financial contribution from the SGPS.

The University’s plight in this financial bungle is laughable—almost three years have passed since the initial $30 million figure was decided on and no one seems to have followed up since.

There’s still a line in the Queen’s Centre budget for a $4.5 million SGPS contribution—a clear example of the financial mismanagement plaguing the project. The disconnected lines of communication between Queen’s and the SGPS, coupled with the more than $60 million of debt the University’s set to rack up, don’t bode well even if a fee makes it to referendum. If the SGPS now decides to withhold a contribution, it would hardly be shocking.

It’s unfortunate graduate and professional students feel detached from the University, and if they don’t want to contribute, that’s up to them.

The SGPS should make a decision whether to contribute to the Queen’s Centre. An official consensus among graduate and professional students needs to be reached, and the University needs to adjust its budget accordingly.

The University needs to pull up its socks and take a serious look at the Queen’s Centre budget. Erroneous assumptions about funding are worrisome and demonstrate a clear lack of planning. An SGPS decision to withhold contribution would be unfortunate but hardly surprising. While the SGPS is deciding whether to assist financially, it might worthwhile for the University to start thinking about alternate sources.

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