n internal dispute between members of the University of Windsor Students’ Alliance has ended.
The student union is pressing forward with plans to move the university Bookstore into the former Thirsty Scholar Pub space in the CAW Student Centre, despite threats from its board of directors to cancel the contract. UWSA board members disappointed with the contract, signed April 30 by outgoing executive members, motioned for it to be voided after additional conditions could not be secured for students.
The UWSA is currently without legal representation, but after seeking advice from associate law professor Emir Crowne, its board of directors ultimately decided not to cancel the contract.
UWSA president Kimberly Orr explained, “[The board] couldn’t direct us to do that because the contract is legally binding, and so it would be against the UWSA’s best interest to cancel that.”
Board member Priya Das said, after receiving legal counsel she recognized that the contract is legally binding on the UWSA.
“It’s (the CAW Student Centre) the university’s building, and for us to say, ‘You can’t do this with your building,’ doesn’t make sense, especially since we’re a student union,” Das said.
“The board of directors didn’t do this to spite anyone, and didn’t do this to spite the prior executive team. We did this because it was in the best interest for the students,” said Das about the board’s desire to renegotiate the contract. “The university … has chosen to take our concerns into consideration. We won’t need to build a completely new contract in order to do so.”
Orr said that the board’s request for a lounge in the Bookstore is going forward, and that the new UWSA-run café will have access to the student meal plan on a provisional basis. “We’re trying to get a better deal out of (the meal plan). The negotiations are still going on for that. Hopefully, we will have a more concrete outcome soon.”
The Organization of Part-time University Students is confident that the Bookstore contract is a good move for not only its members, but also students in general.
OPUS vice-president Anthony Meloche’s biggest concern with the contract was the loss of student space; a concern the university managed to allay. “It doesn’t mean we’re opening the doors for all of university administration and everything to come in. That’s not the intent. We were trying to fix a need that was there because we had this business running for so many years and it was virtually bleeding the UWSA dry,” Meloche said, referring to the Thirsty Scholar’s $1 million deficit.
The contract’s biggest draw is the revenue generated from the more than $100,000 annual lease from the university, which will be split proportional to the percentage of students OPUS and UWSA represent.
At a June 26 board of governors meeting, the university approved renovations and beginning the tendering process for the $3 million dollar improvements to the Odette School of Business, funded through a donation by the Odette family. Classrooms, study areas and conference rooms will be built into the space that the Bookstore currently occupies. The Bookstore will be moved into the CAW Student Centre in October.