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For Vic, new digs don’t come cheap

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Students at Victoria College will see a dramatic increase in student fees once construction begins for the Goldring Student Centre, a $21-million project set to replace the Wymilwood building.

The new centre will triple the amount of student space, offer new facilities, and be more environmentally friendly. Unlike Wymilwood, it will be wheelchair accessible.

“For everybody who will be able to use the centre at some point, they’ll pay an increase of $100 [per year] until the centre is complete,” said James Janeiro, president of Victoria University Student Administrative Council. “Once the centre is complete, people start paying $200 [per year in additional fees] until the mortgage is paid off, which is approximately 15 years.”

Construction is expected to begin next winter, and admin hope to have the centre open by 2011.

Currently, Vic students pay $1,074 in ancillary student fees. With the proposed increase, Vic will pass St. Michael’s College, almost matching Trinity College as the most expensive college at U of T.

In 2006, VUSAC passed a motion that promised to help fund the project. Vic admin and alumni will each contribute $7 million dollars to the project, and students will pick up the remaining $7 million. VUSAC has negotiated the specifics of the budget with admin since September.

Unlike the Student Commons, a centre for all St. George students, Vic students will not be able to approve or reject the proposed increase in fees with a referendum. Instead, the decision to ratify the hike in student fees will be made solely by VUSAC when members of the council vote on decision on Feb. 5.

“We thought it would be a lot more efficient to get it done like this,” said Janeiro. “We feel that we are a very good organization at getting student feedback. Rather than having to waste time and money mounting a ‘Yes’ campaign and then getting a ‘No’ campaign started and then having to set up polling stations or [go] online or anything like that, we decided that the best way to do it would be to use ourselves as a representative body of students.”

VUSAC has sent out representatives to talk with students and the heads of clubs to gather opinions. It has also worked closely with the Strand, Victoria College’s student newspaper, to spread awareness.

“I’m as confident that VUSCAC speaks for everyone at Vic as much as any other government speaks for anyone,” said Jason Hunter, Vic’s dean of students. “I don’t think that we would go ahead and do it without the approval of VUSAC.”

“We have faced some opposition, of course,” said Janeiro, but said students have given mostly positive feedback. “There’s not been a huge protest,” Hunter said.

Janeiro said he hoped VUSAC would ratify the fee hike and avoid any delays. “We want to get the shovel in the ground as soon as possible so that students that are at Vic right now will be able to profit from the centre.”