For two years, the Rink in the Bowl was available for no charge to students wanting to stay active during winter on campus. However, the rink has been closed permanently this year.
Due to concerns around useful spending, the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union has decided to allocate the money for the rink to fund other forms of winter programming. The union hopes this will better address the interests of the student body.
“It was kind of a gamble with the money, and the hopes that students would use the ice rink and our hopes that it would be warm enough that they would feel compelled to use it,” said Autumn LaRose-Smith, vice-president student affairs of the USSU.
The Rink in the Bowl was a campaign promise of Crystal Lau, former vice-president of student affairs. For Lau, the rink was an opportunity to promote a sense of community on campus and to ensure that students living in residence could engage in winter activities.
Despite Lau’s intentions, the USSU has decided to close the rink. They say that this change will allow the student union to better devote resources to activities that interest the student body.
“I’m definitely not wanting to give up, but just being realistic [with] the timing and availability of the students,” LaRose- Smith said.
In the 2017-18 academic year, the U of S President’s Office provided the USSU with upwards of $10,000 to manage the rink. This funding covered a majority of the set-up costs. The funds that the USSU was spending on the rink’s maintenance will now be allocated to other forms of winter programming. Nothing has been determined yet for this year and the programming for future years is yet to be decided.
Among possible future plans, the students’ union is considering hosting a skating event at Merlis Belsher Place where hot chocolate and pizza will be provided to students. They are also interested in hosting a feast at the end of the year.
Aside from that, the USSU’s future winter programming will be determined by direct student feedback. The executive is encouraging students and student groups to approach them with their ideas and interests on the topic.
LaRose-Smith is excited about what the USSU’s winter programming may become and hopes that it will bring the community together.
“I’m really open to different ideas of what students want to do,” LaRose-Smith said.
Ultimately, winter programming will become what students make of it. LaRose-Smith says the executive appreciates the importance of having outdoor activities available for students during the winter months. They are hoping that students will get the same benefits that were intended with the Rink in the Bowl from the union’s upcoming winter programming.
“I think it can be really positive for students who are struggling right now, from stress and other things, [to know] that there are things available to them,” LaRose-Smith said.
Photo: Heywood Yu