AMS fumbles JDUC revitalization

The preliminary stages of the AMS’s JDUC revitalization plan have been poorly executed, and reflect greater failures on the part of the AMS and the University.

Last Monday, the AMS hosted an open house to receive feedback from students on how to spend the $1.2 million JDUC Revitalization Fund. Five potential projects were proposed at the event, three of which focused specifically on improving Wallace Hall.

Students are able to vote on which combination of projects should be undertaken through a survey hosted by SurveyMonkey.

The fund that will finance the projects was collected through the Queen’s Student Centre student fee from 2005-09, with the $1.2 million constituting the AMS’s capital contribution to Phase 1 of the Queen’s Centre. According to their agreement with the University, the AMS must spend the fund before April 2015.

This large-scale project won’t address the overall problems facing the JDUC.

The building has failed as a social space due to its uninviting environment. It’s partially a result of an accumulation of small maintenance issues that continue to go unaddressed — poor lighting; unreliable WiFi and phone signals; and faulty vents, windows and power outlets.

The availability of the $1.2 million stems from the University’s failure to deliver on Phases 2 and 3 of the Queen’s Centre. The onus to maintain the JDUC also lies with the University, which has continually overlooked the small defects that have rendered the building inhospitable.

The proposed revitalization projects focus on grandiose transformations of one room or area, but neglect the spaces students frequent most. Most students rarely go into Wallace Hall; while revamping the room may make it more enticing, it would be a poor use of funds, given the JDUC’s shabby overall state.

The current AMS executive was dealt a bad hand. With a deadline to kickstart the revitalization by April 2015, this project would have benefitted from a long-term plan, one that should have been implemented by previous AMS execs — particularly BPP in 2013-14.

It would have been far more appropriate for the AMS to solicit student opinion on how to spend the $1.2 million through a referendum question, rather than through SurveyMonkey.

The AMS’s online survey lacks legitimacy; no measures have been taken to verify if the participants are actually students, and there’s no limit on the number of responses people can submit.

The current survey restricts students to the five proposed projects, without the option of suggesting alternatives. While the AMS has said multiple options could be undertaken concurrently, the estimated cost of each project hasn’t been released, so it’s impossible to tell which projects could be combined.

Both the survey and last Monday’s open house were poorly advertised. No official email was sent out to AMS members informing them of the opportunity to voice their opinion. This severely limits student access to the survey and the details of each potential project.

Greater, legitimate strides need to be taken to gather student input before the AMS continues on with their plans, so that this revitalization adequately reflects the opinion of the student body.

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