When students return to school for the fall semester, they may be welcomed with more power outlets, water-refill stations and better located services available in the Students' Union Building.
Vice-President (Operations and Finance) Andy Cheema has been busy this summer implementing changes in SUB, which will see the move of the Peer Support Centre and Campus Food bank to more appropriate locations. Certain food and beverage businesses in SUB will also be providing GST exemptions to students with a meal plan, as permitted by national legislation to make food more affordable, a feature that's already present in Lister itself.
Lack of available power outlets was a problem that Cheema had experienced as a student, which is why he made it a priority on his agenda.
"When I was running for this position, I did a speech in [the] Myer Horowitz, and one of the things I promised was that I would install more electrical outlets in SUB, and in fact there was cheering and applause when I said that," Cheema said. "In today's information age, [...] it's somewhat ridiculous that it's difficult to find places to plug in your devices on campus."
To remedy this, the SU has installed what they call "power posts," 3-foot tall brown towers, scattered around the area in front of SUBStage. Each power post supplies four times as many outlets as the floor sockets which they replace, and cost the SU $200 in parts and labour.
The two water fountains in SUB will be replaced with units that can operate as both a normal drinking fountain, and as a "water refill station" for bottles. They are a result of a joint project between the SU and the Office of Sustainability, and will supply refrigerated, filtered water to encourage reusable water bottle usage. The Office of Sustainability is providing the funds for the machines so there will be no cost to the SU.
The point-of-sale machines at SU-run businesses in SUB — Cram Dunk, L'Express, Juicy, and RATT — will also be reprogrammed by September to exempt students with a Lister meal plan from paying GST. The Marina in Lister already provides this service.
"We had not been aware until recently that SU food and beverage operations could provide this exemption," explained Cheema, who received confirmation from the Canada Revenue Agency. The exemption will only apply to students with a registered university meal plan, and not to non-Listerites who use money on their OneCard.
The Peer Support Centre, currently on the lower level of SUB, will move to the second floor by September, in order to be located alongside University-provided services.
The Campus Food Bank will relocate from the basement to the main floor, sharing office space with the Student Financial Aid Information Centre. The new location will provide them with more visibility and better office facilities, as well as feature a back door to increase student privacy, as currently students must leave through the same door they entered in.
"If you're leaving with a brown paper bag of food you don't necessarily have to worry about students seeing you with that," Cheema explained.
While all the changes will be completed by September, the renovations for the Campus Food Bank will not be completed until later this year.