Letter: U of C student consultation a farce

By Kyle Schole

[Re: “Upgrading the heart of campus,” October 16, 2012]

Students are sorely wrong if they are under the impression that the University of Calgary administration is listening to them when it comes to consultation on the future development of MacHall. The university has already developed its plans to introduce and impose these renovations, so whatever students say is highly unlikely to have any impact whatsoever on the final outcome in appearance, utility or cost.

Thus far, the resounding argument for this “needed” redevelopment has been the fact that MacHall originally opened in 1967. Its age almost single-handedly justifies the proposed $150 million project. As it happens, the Calgary Tower also opened the same year, but I personally doubt anyone would suggest it requires a total overhaul. To be fair, there are several challenges facing the building as it stands today. The current loading bay setup is problematic to say the least. With students playing a daily game of chicken with traffic, solutions clearly need to be found. Yet, I am hesitant, as an already financially overburdened student, to chip in $200 per year for digging a $25 million hole in the ground — the estimated price tag to move the loading bay underground and to the north side of MacHall. 

A closure of MacHall — either partial or complete — could dramatically impact the immediate and long-term well-being of virtually every student. Relocation of certain key services to the MacKimmie Library Tower, while an option, is not a sufficient one. 

The MacHall that students currently enjoy is already a visually appealing and functional building. As many students already know, it is home to dozens of crucial programs, organizations and resources available for the well-being of students. 

Next time you find yourself transiting through MacHall, take a moment to soak in your surroundings, and realize that the cornerstone of student life on campus is being thieved from you in broad daylight and, even worse, under the guise of student engagement and consultation. 

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