The University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union centres will be getting new furniture and refurbishments soon, same as some other central locations on campus.
The “furniture refresh” was introduced by USSU General Manager Caroline Cottrell at the Dec. 5, 2019 University Students’ Council meeting, a month ahead of the vote on Jan. 9 to approve $257,422 in funding for the project. The money will be used for furniture and millwork refurbishments for the centres and the North Concourse in Upper Place Riel.
Cottrell says that the upgrades to these areas are a long time coming, after years of the union doing renovations to their other properties such as the Memorial Union Building and other sections of Upper Place Riel.
“The chairs you are sitting on at this moment are over 40 years old… They have been recovered a dozen times,” Cottrell said to the USC in the Roy Romanow Student Council Chambers. “We can carry on with these if we need to but more importantly, there are four rooms that we have not touched and those are the centres. We haven’t done anything with the centres in forever.”
“I don’t know if any of you have noticed lately, but the Pride Centre couches are held together with two by fours.”
Full-time undergraduate students pay $126.48 a year to the USSU infrastructure fund. The students’ union is sitting on $964,073 in their unrestricted infrastructure reserve; the reserve funds that they can access anytime. This is not counting their restricted reserve, which holds enough funds to cover the students’ union’s mortgage for a few months in the eventuality of a cease to student fees.
Cottrell says that this surplus on the unrestricted reserve should have been used earlier to fund repairs to student areas.
“We have $964,073 — I think it’s absolutely atrocious. And I’m ashamed of myself for not dealing with this sooner; that we are allowing that to continue,” Cottrell said.
USSU President Regan Ratt- Misponas adds that this investment in the centres show the commitment of the students’ union under their strategic goals, “The Path Forward,” to “revitalize community.”
“I think especially when it comes to the centres … we want to ensure that people are comfortable, and I think that this is something small that we can do to ensure that we’re revitalizing community and living up to the mandate that we’ve set for ourselves,” Ratt-Misponas said.
Aside from the centres, another campus area getting an upgrade is the Upper Place Riel’s North Concourse. Cottrell says that the students’ union staff examined the couches in the area and determined a need to upgrade them.
“We got [that furniture] at a garage sale from a sporting event that was held in Saskatoon in about 2010. It’s disgusting,” Cottrell said. “We’re looking to do a pretty significant refurbishment of furniture in this organization.”
The “furniture refresh” will reportedly not be completed by the end of this term. After the new items are purchased, the old furniture will either be returned to the retailer, donated to Habitat for Humanity, recycled or given to the university for use in other buildings. The USSU has stated that they will aim to reuse or recycle every item replaced.
Cottrell says that the USSU staff seriously considered the situation before coming to the USC with the now-approved funding request. She agrees with Ratt-Misponas that the furniture upgrades will make the USSU areas more welcoming to students.
“We spend an awful lot of time taking very seriously the fact that we’re spending your money. None of the senior management team takes this lightly,” Cottrell said. “This is absolutely about community.”
Ana Cristina Camacho/ News Editor
Photo: Victoria Becker/ Photo Editor