The Student Services Committee feel students shouldn’t have to pay for the building of a new Wellness Centre at Western University. Western’s Administration approached the University Student Council (USC) and the Society of Graduate Students (SOGS), asking their councils if they would be willing to charge students more in ancillary student fees to fund a new Wellness Centre. The University can only introduce a fee through these groups, which make up the Student Services Committee. Both, SOGS and the USC have made their position clear: they are not in favour of going to referendum to place this fee.
The desire for a new Wellness Centre stems from the major renovations happening this year in Thames Hall. The University thinks is a great opportunity to take advantage of the space. Based on feedback at SOGS’ council, SOGS’ Vice-President, Madison Bettle says, “Students don’t feel they should be paying for the building of the building. This entire fee would just be for the building itself, it would not be for the services that would be in the centre. We’re already paying the Student Health Services and Student Development fees.”
The Thames Hall renovations are estimated to cost about $35 million, and if a new Wellness Centre is built then the Wellness Centre could cost nearly $20 million of that budget. The extra student fees, if put in place, would fund about $10 million of the project, costing students about an extra $40.
The Wellness Education Centre (WEC) in the basement of the University Community Centre just opened last year in October 2016. So, why does Western need another Wellness Centre?
“Many students have been reporting to us over the years that they find the navigation of these services confusing. Although the WEC is a great place, it’s not actually a service for wellness, it’s an education on wellness services, whereas health services and psychological services is actually the services that you would go to get specific help. Students have said they want everything in one location,” shares Bettle.
Across Canadian Universities and Colleges, there’s a growing tendency to try and centralize their wellness services. Queens University created their own Wellness Centre using capital funds and a Government.
SOGS has asked their Vice-President, Madison Bettle to write a formal letter to Western Administration to forward to the Board of Governors explaining they would prefer the University look into alternative means of paying for this wellness hub.
“We feel that based on an email that was received back in June from President Chakma that the University has more than enough money to pay for the building. I feel Western University should be making students’ health and mental wellness a priority, and I believe they have the funding to do so,” says Bettle.
The proposed project will be brought up again at the next Student Services Committee meeting on October 17. For now the Student Services Committee has spoken, it’s up the the University’s Administration to ultimately make a final decision.