University secures donor for upcoming turf field referendum

RYAN VERBEY-VERUTIS

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This time last year, nearly 3,100 students voted in a referendum to transfer money from the Brock University Students’ Union Strategic Expansion Fund to support the construction of a new turf field. This referendum was part of former BUSU President Cooper Millard’s campaign platform.

While the referendum passed with a resounding 77 per cent of students voting in favour of the turf field, the $1,000,000 from BUSU’s Strategic Expansion Fund was only a portion of the money required to break ground. The University required additional funding in order to begin construction, but due to the lack of an external donor at the time, they were forced to postpone the project.
Many of the students who were disappointed by the University’s failure to secure a donor will be happy to learn that the issue is being brought to referendum once again.

“The University has informed us that they have secured a donor, which is why this referendum was initiated again. BUSU is contributing $1,000,000, which makes us a major sponsor of the Turf Field,” said Jimmy Norman, the student union’s Chief Returning Officer (CRO).

If the referendum passes, $1,000,000 will be transferred from the Strategic Expansion Fund to the University over the period of five years with an annual amount of $200,000. The fund is an ancillary fee that is already in place at Brock. All undergraduate students pay $7 per credit towards the fund, which BUSU then allocates to various projects.

“In voting yes for this referendum, it will not affect tuition costs at all since the money is already sitting in the Strategic Expansion Fund,” said Norman.

In the past, BUSU used the money from the fund to help build the Learning Commons. The construction of the turf field will not cause this fee to increase. If the referendum passes, existing money will simply be repurposed to help fund the construction of the field.

Paul Dermody, the current BUSU Vice-President of Student Services, is spearheading the ‘Yes’ side of the referendum.

“It’s hard to have a strong athletics spirit without having our teams on campus,” he said.
Due to the poor conditions of the University’s current fields, many varsity teams are unable to compete on-campus. This makes it difficult for students to support the varsity athletes because they have to travel elsewhere in the greater community to attend the games. Anybody who has played outdoor intramurals in the fall can attest to the poor conditions, which makes playing sports like soccer and football difficult.

According to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), the University plans to create a “Turf Field Committee” to ensure that the field will benefit all undergraduate students. In other words, they plan to schedule use between student recreation, intramurals, athletics, as well as various student groups on-campus.

If the referendum passes, there is a tentative plan to construct the new turf field where the lacrosse field currently sits, between the tennis courts and the Village Residence parking lot.

Voting for the referendum will take place during BUSAC elections from Mar. 24 to 26. Students should be informed prior to casting their vote via their Brock email.

For more information, visit the Yes Side: Turf Field Referendum 2015 page on Facebook at facebook.com/groups/1556748214585038. To read the Memorandum of Understanding, visit busu.net/representation/elections-and-referendums

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