Queen’s didn’t tell students it’d missed its fundraising deadline for the JDUC. Now what?

Claudia Rupnik

This year, undergraduate students paid $40 each to support turning the John Deutsch University Centre (JDUC) into a more sustainable, accessible, and modern building through the mandatory JDUC Redevelopment Fee established by the AMS.

The AMS and the Society of Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS) have each agreed to contribute $50.5 million over 25 years to the JDUC renovation through this annual student levy, starting this year.

But Queen’s missed the initial deadline to collect donor funding for its contribution to the redevelopment. The Journal reported in October that the University was almost $7 million short of its goal to raise $10 million by Fall 2020.

Queen’s now asserts the money will be raised by June 30, though it maintains the impacts of the pandemic on the project “remain to be seen” and have set a secondary timeline of collecting the money by Aug. 31.

There have been no updates on when construction—which was scheduled to begin this May—can actually be expected to start because the University needs the money before it can break ground.

The University didn’t inform students of the delay until The Journal asked, despite students being key financial stakeholders in the project.

When asked about the JDUC redevelopment at a recent AMS Assembly meeting, Deane said the University still sees both the project and its partnership with students as being “critically important.” But partners keep each other informed when there’s a change of plans.

It’s reasonable to expect the COVID-19 pandemic to challenge the University’s ability to fundraise or begin the construction process. But the problem continues to be communication with the student body.

Not only did the University fail to update students when it missed its deadline, but the AMS still seems out of the loop. Though the Society told The Journal it was seeking more information about the updated timeline at the time, it hasn’t provided students with a single update about the JDUC since.

It’s been said before, but communication and transparency are important components of empowering the student body to speak up for itself and put trust and value in its community.

For its part, the AMS hasn’t done enough to educate students about how this project will benefit them.

For example, does the new design provide more space for the AMS Services slated to be housed inside the building? If so, will the extra space translate into more student job opportunities?

Will clubs be able to choose from a greater range of accessible rooms when booking event spaces? Or will they be losing bookable space in the redevelopment?

As Team RTZ transitions into the AMS Executive office, I’d suggest taking a closer look at the JDUC redevelopment project. Students have elected these leaders to be their representatives throughout the process—to hold the University, your partner in the project, accountable for its end of the deal.

Claudia is a fourth-year French Studies student and The Journal’s News Editor.

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