Is it the SU’s responsibility to support your habit?

By Amanda Affonso

Yes, you’ve heard correctly. The Black Lounge is closing. When it is going to happen has yet to be determined. As the bearer of this news, I have a responsibility to inform you of the consequences and the options the Students’ Union has.

To begin, the operating agreement and financing are now in place to begin construction of the new expansion. We are beginning preparations for building the new facility and will continue redevelopment projects in the existing buildings.

The expansion and redevelopment plans include the closure of the Black Lounge and the development of a new bar and restaurant. The new two storey venue will be multi-use and diverse, consisting of several different rooms for students to enjoy various atmospheres and to host different student activities.

In 1997-98, the Students’ Union conducted a perception survey, asking students to rate and comment on the services and programs we provide. The results showed that a smoking space scored 2.28 out of 6 in terms of importance, the lowest among 19 identified SU services.

The argument can be made that the su is supposed to serve and represent all students and that each student pays a fee to the Union to be spent on services they want and expect. That being the case, I think it is important to ask at what expense should the su provide this service.

If the SU had to build a similar facility to the current lounge it would mean investing at least $150,000 to create a new space and exhaust system.

Another option is to install an outdoor shelter with capacity for 26 students which would cost approximately $25,000. I now ask you, should the su be spending student dollars on such a facility? Is it appropriate for the su to pay for a lounge for a small group of students? Is it fair for non-smokers to be contributing their SU fees to support student habits?

I do not claim to have an answer, nor do I claim to support one side of this argument. What I do know is that I want to hear from you. Please e-mail me you comments at What should the SU do? Have a referendum? Collect a levy? Use your money? Have a debate at Speaker’s Corner? Stay tuned for next week’s SLC View, in which Nassr Awada, VP External, will provide an opposing (and more sympathetic) argument for providing a smoking lounge for students.

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