On Jan. 8, executive members of the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union announced the reopening of the Rink in the Bowl. Now in its second year of operation, the rink faces criticism of imperfect programming.
One of the more than 50 outdoor rinks in Saskatoon, the USSU Rink in the Bowl is distinguished from the rest by its campus locality and services provided. On Wednesdays from 1 until 4 p.m., Culinary Services provides free hot chocolate to skaters on the Rink in the Bowl.
Additionally, students who wish to use the Rink in the Bowl are able to rent skates from the Physical Activity Complex free of charge by using their student cards. Similar to last season, hockey is not permitted on the ice surface.
The Rink in the Bowl was a campaign promise of past USSU vice-president student affairs Crystal Lau in the 2017-2018 union elections. Lau hoped that an ice rink would enhance student well-being and that it would foster a greater sense of campus community. Last academic year, the overall cost of the ice rink was estimated to be $7,100, and the USSU received $10,000 from the U of S President’s Office for the project.
This year, the costs for the rink are different as major purchases for the rink, such as boards, were made last year. In the USSU 2018-2019 budget, $1,500 from the Executive Events line was allocated to the ice rink for miscellaneous purchases, like a tarp. Additionally, the USSU has hired a rink
attendant to cover the maintenance of the ice.
Although the funding from the last two years suggests overall support for the Rink in the Bowl, the initiative has not been without criticism. Liam Roberts*, a fourth-year political studies student, does not skate and says that the Rink in the Bowl is an instance of USSU programming that fails to reach the broader student body.
“In the year since it was
created, I have had no utility for it and spend absolutely zero attention [on] it,” Roberts said. “There are no people tracking the people who use it and the efficacy of it, so it’s kind of a
financial black hole to whatever degree that it is… You could put a smiley face on a snowman in the Bowl, and it would have more of an effect on undergraduate students.”
When asked about the rink’s usage for its first season in 2017-2018 and plans to assess its use in 2019, vice-president student affairs Rose Wu said, in an email to the Sheaf, that use of the rink is not recorded as it is an “open space at all times.”
*To respect the privacy of the individual who was interviewed, their name has been changed.
Tanner Bayne / News Editor
Photo: Heywood Yu