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What the machall dispute means for students
A lot of people have been asking what student ownership of MacHall really means and why should it matter. As a student myself, ownership isn’t about just a title, ownership is about allowing students to choose what they want to see in their student centre. For me, it’s about recognizing student need and addressing it as quickly as possible. Every student before you paid into creating a space that is yours. Recognizing the 60 years of student investment in this building is about giving students a voice and a choice about the future of MacHall.
We have a long history of doing just that. When students wanted a safe space for the LGBTQ community on campus we were able to create the Q Centre because of our ability to choose what we wanted in our space. When students wanted an affordable alternative to buying outrageously priced new textbooks we opened Bound & Copied, where students can sell their books to other students at a reasonable price. When students wanted a place to build community and have a cheap pint on campus, we took over management and re-opened the Den. When students came to us and said there should be more space for the 18,000 students that participate in clubs on campus, we were able to create the new clubs space in MacHall.
As students we can move new ideas and initiatives forward – like opening a food bank on campus, creating nap rooms, offering halal food options and holding candidate forums for the federal elections because we have control of the space. Students should decide what programs and services they see fit, not the university administration.
What would the future of this building look like if the university was the sole owner of the building? Firstly, I can tell you students would lose their ability to choose how to use their own space and the ability to make decisions about innovative plans for future space.
Would the university want to keep a used book store like Bound & Copied open that competes with a university-run bookstore that makes millions of dollars off of students each year? Would the administration let student clubs book conference and events space for free when they charge active clubs top prices for renting their spaces and equipment elsewhere on campus? What mechanism would we have to keep the administration accountable for our investment ($19 million of it) in MacHall? We don’t get to elect the administration or decide how our tuition dollars are spent. Why would we think we’d have a say in how MacHall is used?
This is your MacHall, let’s make sure it stays that way.
I’m Sarah Pousette, your 73rd Vice President Operations & Finance.