March 13th, 2001
Dear Co-op Student,
As you may be aware, the University of Waterloo is in the process of designing and constructing a new building to house Co-operative Education. There has been extensive public consultation with design students, including meetings, focus groups, surveys and direct student involvement in the design phase. The architects have been selected, a site between South Campus Hall and Arts Lecture Hall has been selected and a very preliminary design completed.
This building will better facilitate the needs of Co-op students and provide services and accommodations that the current facility cannot. It will include over a hundred interview rooms that will be used for study when not in use, two lounge areas for students awaiting interviews, a small cafi, student office space, change rooms, and facilities for paging and for telephone interviews. The building will double the current area allotted for Co-op students and is expected to be operational in September 2002.
Undoubtedly, planning and construction costs money. A cost of 8.7 million dollars is anticipated for the development of a new Co-op Centre. In February, 2000, the province committed to cover 50% of the total costs, leaving a shortfall of approximately 4.35 million dollars to be raised by the University of Waterloo.
The University is continuing in its efforts to solicit funding from private sources, however, without financial guarantee now, it is with great reluctance and apprehension that the development should continue. Naturally, both the University and the Federation of Students seek to prevent a halt to construction due to insufficient funds. We appeal to you for your thoughts, comments and opinions in this matter.
I have been approached by the University Administration to determine if Co-op students would support increasing the Co-operative education fee by $25. A significant request; students being asked to financially bear the University of Waterloo's budget shortfall. It is for this reason that a process for consultation has been developed so that your opinion can be heard.
Mark Schaan, your Vice President of Education, and myself, have been pursuing options for covering the costs of this project, instead of asking for student assistance. Due to decisions made by the provincial government, the university is not in a position to float these costs out of its general operating expenditures without seriously compromising the integrity of other academic programs. Corporate donations are difficult to solicit in lieu of the high-tech meltdown, and fear of an upcoming recession. Furthermore, many of our traditional donors have recently made large donations and are not expected to donate again in the near future.
The Co-operative Education department has developed a plan for fundraising and is in the process of executing that plan. However, while these efforts shall continue, we cannot in good conscience delay our response to the Administration. A plan is needed to finance the building before the tender can be rewarded. The Federation of Students agrees with the Administration that construction can not begin without a sound-financing plan.
The Administration has conceded that the increase to the Co-op fee shall not take effect until the building is occupied, that this is not a precedent for funding new construction, that fundraising efforts will continue and intensify and that all of this will be formalized into a written agreement.
No definite course of action is being implemented at this time. The Board of Governors is the body on campus charged with making decisions regarding the Co-op fee, and they will meet on April 3rd, 2001 in Needles Hall Room 3001 at 2:30pm.
It must be noted that the University shall continue in its efforts to solicit donations for this building, and that this project will be the major focus of the fundraising campaign they will begin next year. Any monies raised would result in an adjustment of the fee; students would either pay less, or the $25 increase would remain for a shorter period of time.
I am confident that the monies required, or a very significant portion thereof, will be raised.
Optimism, however, is not negotiable current. While I do believe future donations will protect co-op students from paying the full $25.00 for the full 25 years, and I am seeking to negotiate as much protection for students as possible, the dilemma we face is clear.
Your thoughts, reactions and comments are integral to the decision making process. I need to hear from you concerning this issue so please contact me directly at email@example.com. or call ext. 2478. No decisions will be made until this public consultation process is completed. There will be a survey distributed and three public meetings have been arranged. These will take place on Thursday March 15th, 2001 @ 11:30am to 1:30pm in the Arts Lecture Hall 113; Thursday March 15th, 2001 @ 2:30pm to 4:30pm in the Engineering Lecture Hall 101 and Friday March 16th, 2001 @ 1:00pm to 3:00pm in the Davis Centre 1351.
Thank you in advance for your feedback.
President, Federation of Students