Zone expansion and Sexual Violence Support Centre are up for referendum

What the Zone will look like after expansion
What the Zone will look like after expansion

In the March elections at Brock University, students will take to the polls to vote on the funding for the Brock Student Sexual Violence Support Centre and Brock Radio, as well as whether or not to fund the proposed expansion of the Zone fitness centre. Campaigning for all three referenda began on March 19 and will end on March 29 at 9:00 p.m. Voting will be open to students on all three referendums between March 27 and 29.

The three questions that will be asked of students via their Brock emails in the March elections are as follows:

Do you support the creation of a $17 per credit fee over a period of five (5) years (commencing in 2020) that would result in the expansion of the Zone fitness centre, after which the fee will drop to a $1.25 per credit to cover maintenance and operations as outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding? The collection of the fee shall commence once the expansion is complete (expected completion is September 2020).

According the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for this referendum, the purpose of the proposed expansion is to “create more space for individuals to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle while also focusing on mental health.” The proposed fee for this expansion is $17 per credit, for five years, for all undergraduate students, and is “mandatory and cannot be rescinded or reversed.”

Do you support the continuation of a $2.75 per credit fee to fund the Brock Student Sexual Violence Support Centre, as per the Memorandum of Understanding?

In this MOU, it states the services that will be provided from the continuation of this fee will include “Providing support services for survivors of sexual violence including, but not limited to, an email, phone, and text crisis/support line, peer support, support groups, advocacy, accompaniments, and coordinating response protocols within Brock… Education and outreach to prevent violence on topics, including but not limited to, the importance of healthy relationships, consent, and how to respond to disclosures… [and] Distribution of resources and training including, but not limited to, self-defense classes, safety whistles, pocket guides, male ally and bystander training, etcetera.” The Sexual Violence Support Centre will have a Board of Directors,  which will consist of three student at-large representatives, three community members, a member of BUSAC, all of whom with the ability to vote, and an organizational coordinator, support services coordinator, and public education coordinator, who cannot vote.

Do you support the creation of a $1.75 per credit Brock University Student Radio Levy starting Spring 2018 as outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding?

This MOU also specifically states that “all money collected from [the levy] not spent by Brock University Radio shall remain as retained earnings for Brock University Student Radio.” The MOU also mentions an auditor will be hired for the Radio’s budget and be made available online. Finally, the MOU sends the levy, if successful, back to referendum in three years.

As far as positions available to students on both BUSAC and Brock Senate, 12 out of the 16 seats for student at-large councillors on BUSAC have been claimed, according to Fiona Purkiss, Chief Returning Officer for BUSU. The only seats “missing” for the BUSAC faculty reps are for “social sciences and an extra faculty seat”, according to Purkiss.

For the available Brock senate seats, of which there were three two-year senate seats and two one-year senate seats, Purkiss explained that three of the seats were claimed.

In terms of campaigning for either sides of the various referenda, there will be neither a No, nor a Yes, campaign for the funding continuation for the Sexual Violence Support Centre. For the creation of a Brock Radio levy, there will be not be a No side of the campaign, but campaigning in favor of the referendum will be led by Ridley McNabb. As far as the Zone funding for expansion, Brock University Students’ Union will throw their support behind the Yes side, with BUSU President Faisal Hejazi in charge of the campaign. There will not be an active No campaign against the Zone expansion proposal.

“Our current fitness facility is the smallest in the entire province of Ontario (4,300 square feet) and if the referendum is successful we will have a brand new, bold 15,600 square foot fitness facility,” Hejazi explained “When I ran last year this was by far my largest platform point. When the Zone was constructed in the 2001/2002 school year our student population was just over 11,500 students and at that time students could only use the fitness facility if they chose to pay for a membership.”

“Brock’s population has grown by over 60 per cent since then and now every single student has access to The Zone (through the student life passed in 2011/2012), nevertheless not all students are able to utilize the Zone because of its limited capacity,” Hejazi continued. “Many students are resorting to paying for an external membership that can cost anywhere from $350 $550 a year on top of the fees we already automatically pay for through our tuition for access to the current Zone. BUSU believes that it is a student’s fundamental right to have access to an affordable, accessible, inclusive and welcoming fitness facility that gives them the opportunity to maintain a healthy level of physical activity.”

“Additionally, research indicates that there is a direct positive correlation between physical activity and increased mental well-being,” Hejazi said.  “If the referendum is successful, the anticipated date of the construction completion is September 2020. The fee will only be implemented when the expansion project is complete and when students have full access to the brand new 15,600 square foot facility in September of 2020. If the student body votes in favour to pass the referendum, there will be a subcommittee that is comprised of students, architects, engineers, administrators, and staff from Athletics/Zone that will be in charge of consulting the various stakeholders on campus and ultimately decide as a collective what kind of equipment/space to be included.”

“It would be $17 per full credit; so if a student is to take a full course load it would be a maximum total of $85 for the year,” Hejazi explained. “As mentioned, the fee will only be implemented upon completion of the facility. Therefore, only students that actually get to use the space will be charged for it (initial cohort would be September 2020. The fee is charged for 5 years and then drops to $1.25 per credit for equipment replacement.”

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