What’s in a name?

Students weigh in on the prospective sale of naming rights to the Queen’s Centre.

Nick Kadysh
Nick Kadysh
Will Dick
Will Dick

Nick Kadysh, ArtSci ’08

The Queen’s Centre Project is currently 40 million dollars over budget and behind schedule. Phase two and three of the project are under review and most certainly will not be built the way they were originally envisioned. These are also the phases that have all the good stuff, unless you happen to be a Phys Ed student.

The Queen’s administration not only took out a huge loan to build the Queen’s Centre, they also used up their entire fundraising potential. The well is dry. The project was so poorly planned that there’s a good chance current services provided to students in the JDUC (P&CC, QP) may be shut down earlier than expected. In short, not only will we not be getting the wonderful new facility we were promised, but it’s likely we’ll lose the old one as well. All the while, students will continue to pay their Queen’s Centre fee, which may increase further in the future. So that’s where we stand: No money, no services, no Queen’s Centre.

Auctioning off the Queen’s Centre name may not be the most palatable choice to some people. They need to get over it. While not everyone wants to go to their shiny new offices in the Telus Student Centre, or the TD Student Centre, it sure beats going to your shiny new offices in ... nowhere. Add to that hanging out in nowhere, grabbing a drink at the pub in nowhere or getting your copies done in nowhere. You’ll have to pay for the privilege of not using the building too. In fact, those of us who’ve been students for a few years have been paying for a few years already.

The auction of the naming rights will create an influx of money for the project and increase the chances that it will be completed. Queen’s is finding it difficult to raise enough money to see it through and this will be a monumental help. Once you face this reality, the question of the Queen’s Centre naming rights becomes a fairly simple one. Do we sell the name and take our last chance at getting the student centre we were promised? Or we could just continue to use the Queen’s Centre name.

While we’re at it, we should remove all the names that were “bought” on Queen’s property. Richardson Stadium should really be the Queen’s Stadium; so what if their generous contribution allowed for the project’s construction? If we’re taking a firm stance on selling names, it’s got to go. It’ll make our campus a lot more boring, and I’m fairly certain that getting multi-million-dollar donations will be tough if the donors don’t get acknowledged in a meaningful way. There are going to be a lot of buildings on campus called Queen’s Hall, a lot of fields called Queen’s Field and a lot of residences called Queen’s Residence.

I hope someone can draw me a map; I’m going to get lost a lot.

Will Dick, Comm ’08, ArtSci ’09

When I came to Queen’s four years ago, a decade of government funding cuts had left classrooms overflowing, infrastructure crumbling, tuition soaring and teaching standards in sharp decline. Ignoring the protest of students, our administration raised student fees and cut academic budgets to pay for the Queen’s Centre, a glorified shopping mall and the largest capital expenditure in Canadian university history.

That same year, the student ghetto was characterized by condemnable houses, predatory cops and streets covered with beer bottles, urine and Dixie cups. On homecoming, armed police officers broke up keggers, forcing students into the street. Our administration condoned the actions of the police and tried to expel any students implicated in the unthinkable crime of hosting a party in their school’s honour.  Four years later, the Aberdeen street party has become a time-honoured tradition, the Queen’s Centre is behind schedule and millions of dollars over budget and our reputation is in tatters. Our university, once referred to as the Harvard of the North, is now in danger of being more aptly compared to a state-run community college in Detroit. What better way of moving towards that epitome of mediocrity than by stamping a big, fat corporate logo on the Queen’s Centre in exchange for some used textbooks?

Our administration wants to sell the naming rights to the Queen’s Centre to help pay for the cost overruns that came from four years of mismanagement. Some worry that this could compromise our university’s independence. I think that’s a valid point. But there is something far more worrisome about it. It looks pathetic. It’s the kind of thing inner-city schools do because they have nowhere else to go for money. It’s like getting your friend to pay you to eat something disgusting: it doesn’t reflect well on you, and it hardly makes your friend deserving of having his likeness plastered on your wall.  During Frosh Week, I met our Dean of Student Affairs as he went door-to-door in the ghetto talking to students about how partying was harming our school’s reputation. On the day we moved in he was blaming us for the school’s decline. We may deserve some of it, but not the lion’s share. Our administration of experienced adults is meant to provide us recent high school graduates with leadership. Yet, their solutions to our problems seem limited to cops, cost-cutting and corporate sponsorship. And instead of taking responsibility for their mistakes, they pass them off to us. That is what our Dean of Student Affairs was doing in the ghetto. And that is what our administration is doing when they propose to sell the naming rights of the Queen’s Centre, saving their own reputations at the expense of ours.

If you think corporate sponsorship is just, like, totally wicked, then maybe rescuing our school’s reputation is a lost cause. But if you think we should take the money because we need it, I submit to you that this is a band-aid solution that will only perpetuate and worsen the real problem: incompetent leaders squandering our reputation.

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.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.