Today, the Student Union Society of UFV has before it a choice presenting an opportunity that arises very rarely in the lifetime of an organization.
Soon, SUS will commit to a 25 to 30 year mortgage for its $10 million share of a soon to be built Student Centre, with the UFV adding a $5 million contribution for one-third of the overall square footage of the building when finished.
This plan has many upsides, but in my view, has as many or more downsides. Most pertinently, it compromises SUS's ability to act as union that lobbies locally and independently on behalf of students. How independent can SUS ever be when its building is located on UFV-owned land and operated under a Lease agreement with UFV? Partnership and cooperation with the UFV is essential to SUS's future; yet both partners will be stronger if a spirit of cooperation is maintained while each are masters of their own fate.
Today, SUS has an alternative. At a price that is less than or comparable to the price (per square foot of space) for space in the UFV-owned Student Centre, SUS could purchase the Esposito Group executive office suites, Finnegan's Pub, Phoenix Lounge, and multi-purpose room together with customizable space - and have all of this without compromising the organization's independence and autonomy like we will inevitably do by continuing with the plan to pay $10 million for a building we're not allowed to call a Student Union Building and must instead call a Student Centre because SUS doesn't actually own it. There is a very big qualitative difference between a Student Union Building and a Student Centre. One holds potential for local lobbying & an independent voice; the other does not.
The ownership team from Finnegan's is making this offer to SUS. The question is whether SUS will blindly proceed towards its multi-decade mortgage with only a lease for usage to show for it without taking the time to consult its membership and fully explore the Esposito option, or whether it will take a moment's pause to see whether there is truly realistic potential for SUS to both save money on conventional financing, achieve a level of independence enjoyed by no other Student Union in Canada, and truly give its members growth potential in a real life management environment.
I am circulating the below petition statement, and since the last spike into "the mortgage" is almost driven, I need your signature for there to even be a chance of SUS fully analyzing this intriguing opportunity:
"Do you support the SUS Board fully exploring and reporting back to the membership on options to purchase all or part of Finnegan's Pub and Grill, the Phoenix Lounge and Global Dining and Multi-Purpose space, and the Esposito Group executive office space before authorizing any payments or construction on the Student Centre project?