With the discovery that the renovations to the University Community Centre by the University Students’ Council have been pushed back yet again — with a new planned completion date of March 25, 2011 — it’s easy to see why students would be upset.
Sure, the USC’s referendum question didn’t indicate anything about when the actual renovation would be completed, but considering the website surrounding the referendum clearly indicated a completion date of September 2010, that’s hardly a fair defence for the USC. Even the more realistic promise — to finish construction before the end of the 2010/11 school year — is slipping through their fingers.
There are definitely students out there who voted assuming they’d be able to use the space in their last year at Western. Where do these delays leave them?
It’s also hard to see why putting such a date on completion was necessary in the first place. Anyone with experience in the construction industry would question the wisdom of setting a completion date for an extensive renovation — including competitive bidding for the contract — only six months after the vote.
Instead, the USC could attempt to be a little more realistic with students. Saying renovations would be done in the first quarter of 2011 would make more sense and likely not change the outcome of the vote. And as an added bonus, if the renovations somehow come in ahead of schedule, the USC can bask in a little student goodwill.
It may be hard for the USC to take on such a pessimistic attitude with students when telling them what they can and can’t expect out of a renovation. Oftentimes, it’s tempting for executive council members to paint the prettiest picture possible since they won’t be in office when the inevitable blowback happens.
With that being said, blame shouldn’t be laid on the USC for the construction delays. An overlong bidding process, accompanied with asbestos and mercury removal were all issues out of the hands of council. However even after the first initial delay, it would have been advisable for them to publicly admit the project is going to be set back to 2011 instead of maintaining the fantasy that things will be done for December.
We know it goes against the USC’s base instinct, but if you treat your constituent students as adults and trust them to make mature decisions, you’ll be rewarded you in the long run.
—The Gazette Editorial Board