Say yes to a deal of a generation

Former AMS Presidents urge a vote in support of JDUC re-development

On Feb. 12 and 13, all Queen’s students will vote to approve or disapprove a fee to renovate the John Deutsch University Centre. While we’re no longer part of the student community, this is an important decision that will affect Queen’s for the years to come.

This is your chance to not only redevelop the JDUC, but get a building primarily designed and developed by students, for students.

With that in mind, we’re asking you to vote ‘yes’ on the AMS’ Special Referendum.

Indeed, the AMS has been in negotiations with the University to reach a workable framework for a while. After four years of conversations, the AMS and the SGPS have reached a workable framework that will responsibly transform the JDUC into an accessible and modern student life centre.

As former student leaders, we’ve disagreed with each other a lot. But we do agree that students should vote ‘yes’ to the new JDUC because in doing so, there will be significant positive effects on the student experience that will be guaranteed for years to come.

On a practical level, the framework not only puts students in the driver’s seat, it also provides a lot of support from the University as well. With $43 million in both direct and indirect contributions from the University, students aren’t alone in picking up the tab.

This deal allows students to build the student life centre they deserve while receiving substantial support from the University and alumni community. It’s the deal
of a generation.

This new building will have 3,200 square feet of club office space — four times more than the current building. One floor alone will feature dedicated rooms for events and will deliver 8,800 square feet of new study space.

These aren’t just desires, they’re needs.

Throughout our terms, these deficiencies were consistently raised by our peers. From Ryerson to McMaster to York and the University of British Columbia, every other university has stepped up to update their student life spaces. If we don’t keep up, it will affect Queen’s ability to attract a new generation of high-quality students and subsequently have direct effects on the value of our degrees.

When someone first comes to Queen’s, they go through an Orientation Week that’s planned, run and overseen by their fellow peers. Queen’s students are responsible for establishing so much of what we hold dear — from the love for tricolour, to the words of the ‘Oil Thigh’, Queen’s students have been at the forefront of our campus and promote the traditions it wishes to observe.

We understand change isn’t optional. In fact, it’s essential for universities to adapt new realities. While we accept universities must modernize or be left behind, student input and involvement are typically forgotten.

In 2015, the Richardson Stadium revitalization brought about much-needed modernization. While long overdue, the project and design of the new stadium weren’t driven by students. As a result, traditions like the halftime parade, field rush and jacket slam were lost in the shuffle, discontinued or substantially altered.

We can debate the merits of those changes, but one fact rings true: when students don’t drive projects, the result will reflect such a lack of involvement.

The framework for the JDUC that was agreed upon by the University, AMS and SGPS gives students control over the building’s design. Students won’t only get more study space, modern conference facilities and a more accessible
building — they will get a building on their own terms.

As Principal Woolf wrote in his blog, students have shaped our physical campus in the past. From the iconic Grant Hall to the Queen’s Centre, students have had a long history of providing financial support for capital projects. Plaques commemorating student contributions to the project still stand today.

This is your chance to pay it forward and give the next generation of students the JDUC we deserve. On Feb. 12 and 13, we urge you to vote for
change — change that will preserve our traditions, put students in the driver’s seat and deliver a better student life centre for everyone.


Eril Berkok, AMS President 2013-14. Allison Williams, AMS President 2014-15. Kanivanan Chinniah, AMS President 2015-16. Tyler Lively, AMS President 2016-17.

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