SGPS should pay for a say

In the Feb. 17 and 18 referendum, the Society of Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS) voted against giving $4.5 million to to Queen’s Centre project.

The proposed capital contribution, which would have translated to $112.50 per student each year over a period of the next 10 years, was struck down with 97 students voting for and 541 students voting against the fee.

The referendum results reflect a longstanding tug-of-war between the SGPS and University administration relating to payment for the Queen’s Centre.

When the Alma Mater Society (AMS) pledged $25.5 million to the Queen’s Centre in 2005, the University memorandum they signed also suggested a $4.5 million contribution from the SGPS. This number was based on the ratio of undergraduate to graduate students, but the SGPS never formally agreed to contribute the funds.

SGPS Vice-President (Finance and Services) Amir Nosrat said the SGPS believes the University administration is purposely overlooking other graduate student issues, like increased residence space and teaching assistant rights, in order to provoke graduate and professional students’ payment for the Queen’s Centre. University administration believes the SGPS should be left out of the governance structure of the Queen’s Centre, which involves issues like space allocation, unless they agree to pay up.

Graduate and professional students have a legitimate claim to the use of the Queen’s Centre. As the building’s name suggests, it was designed as a larger facility for the benefit of the institution as a whole.

When given the choice to vote in favour of paying a hefty fee or against it, it’s not surprising the majority disagreed with the charge. Graduate and professional students shouldn’t be chastised for their choice when it’s likely their votes speak more to the issue of feeling disconnected from the operations of a primarily undergraduate institution.

The Queen’s Centre’s financial mismanagement has only made the issue more thorny. Students shouldn’t have to pay for administrative errors.

If the SGPS wants to make the most of the facility and have a say in its governance structure, they should pay the price—although we can’t blame them for not wanting to.

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