The Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) had its bi-weekly Council meeting last Wednesday, adopting two motions declaring that the AUS endorses “yes” votes on the two SSMU referendum questions regarding Midnight Kitchen.
In addition, Associate Dean (Academic Administration and Oversight) Gillian Lane-Mercier attended the meeting and gave a presentation about the “People, Processes & Partnerships” project that has been going on since the previous academic year.
Lane-Mercier’s presentation focused the project’s plans for administrative restructuring that will take place in the three locations: Sherbrooke 688, Arts/Ferrier, and Leacock.
Among other restructuring and regrouping maneuvers, Lane-Mercier affirmed that administrative restructuring will occur in Leacock, as two new administrative hubs will be created – although the faculty has backed down from transforming the third floor of Leacock into a reception area.
AUS VP Internal Enbal Singer later commented in an interview with The Daily that her expectations regarding the proposed plans were low.
“Student size is growing, physical space is hardly growing. [The University] buy[s] more houses in the area, on Doctor Penfield […] and Bronfman expanded to the CIBC building. So there is a little expansion, but not at the same rate that [the student body is] growing. That’s where the problem is,” Singer said.
However, Lane-Mercier emphasized the environment of austerity impacting the project.
“We are trying to make these administrative hubs robust enough to sustain the early retirement departures and upcoming normal retirements, which will continue to come forward. And we are not allowed to hire [new administrative officers], there is a complete hiring freeze and we don’t know how long that will last. And we also don’t know if the Quebec government will begin to reinvest in Quebec universities,” she said during the presentation. “We’re not 100 per cent convinced that there will be a reinvestment in the administrative services.”
During the question period after the presentation, Matthew Crawford-Appignanesi, of the McGill Industrial Relations Association asked whether or not the faculty has any plans to integrate the Interdisciplinary Studies coordinator with one of the two hubs in Leacock.
Lane-Mercier responded by saying that the answer to this question was not quite clear yet, but it was definitely on their “radar screen.”
Singer brought up the issue of the McTavish rowhouses, and asked what would happen to the rowhouse that is currently being held by the Department of Jewish Studies, which will move to the Leacock Building, and the one that was previously held by the Department of East Asian Studies, which moved to Sherbrooke 688 over the summer.
Lane-Mercier cited long-term concerns in explaining the decision to move the Departments of Jewish Studies and East Asian Studies out of their rowhouses on McTavish.
“The Arts Faculty is in a little bit of competition with [Student Life and Learning] who would like to one day see McTavish a 100 per cent student corridor, apart from the Faculty Club. […] Arts doesn’t like that idea, at least not now. We don’t have enough space, we need the space. But we’re worried that the University is not going to invest much in this space until it decides what it’s going to do with it,” Lane-Mercier explained.
In a phone interview with The Daily, AUS President Justin Fletcher said, “While there is a lot of uncertainty in how those spaces are going to be rethought, I also think it’s an opportunity for us to have a big say in what student space means.”