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Reflections on 2010

By Catherine Burgess

Welcome to 2011, folks, and welcome back to the daily grind at the university. We’ve partied and eaten and slept all break long and bid last year farewell with a bang (literally a lack thereof, considering the downtown New Year’s fireworks were cancelled).

2010 was quite the ride. It was the year when the vuvuzela’s B flat swept the globe during the ruckus of the FIFA World Cup. The Winter Olympics and the G20 Summit were held in Canada and the Junos much closer to home.

It was the year of the tiger; the year Igor hit hard, and the year Danny walked. It was wild. Before we move forward into the term unfolding before us, let us reflect on the year that has drawn to a close by highlighting the top issues of 2010 to touch the university campus.

The year began with the release of the MUNSU investigation committee findings, which turned out to be “a slap in the face,” wrote The Muse. The investigation had been called to look into the student union’s questionable spending habits, and proposed 11 recommendations to increase transparency and fiscal responsibility. MUNSU and its executive directors were in hot water at the time over issues such as a $150,000 loss over a Snoop Dogg concert, “poorly planned” and “unnecessary” Breezeway renovations, Breezeway bar tab allegations, and the list of faults kept growing. A lot of students lost faith in their student union when the committee findings were released, and needless to say, quite a bit of attention was paid to the election that followed.

Last year, students who drove to school found the battle to find a parking spot worsened as a quarter of the parking lots were barricaded for construction. But it was all for the sake of the development of the campus. A multi-storey parking garage was to be built on the site of the original parking lot, near the Health Sciences Centre which, when it is finally completed, will be able to greatly ease the campus parking pressure. On the site of the Hatcher field parking lot, construction of a new 500-bed residence was begun.

This leads into the next major story of the 2010 year: the housing crunch. Late in the summer, as students began to make their way back to the capital city to start a new school year, they were met with the massive housing shortage. The vacancy rate was 1.1 per cent at the time. Andrew Harvey of off-campus housing said that students begin looking into on-campus housing options as early as February, which results in waiting lists extending into the hundreds. This forces students to look off-campus for housing, and with the vacancy rate so low, things got tense for some students.

The summer season welcomed Memorial University’s new president and vice-chancellor, Dr. Gary Kachanoski. Hailing from the prairie provinces, Dr. Kachanoski cited the university’s ties to the strong arts and cultural communities in Newfoundland and Labrador as being particularly attractive to him and his family when they decided to relocate to this province.

The most recent issue of the 2010 year, which is continuing into the winter season, is the Metrobus strike. On Nov. 4, drivers, mechanics and other employees went on strike, and nine weeks later, nothing has been resolved. Between 9,000 and 14,000 people use the bus service each day, many of whom are students, and the strike has proven to be nothing but problems for the regular riders. Thankfully, other car-owning students have been able to step in and help their classmates reach the campus, and professors have been quite accommodating for those who have missed a class or two because they had no transportation.

What to wish for in the new year? How about more parking spaces to tide us over until the parking garage is completed; elevators in the QE II library that don’t get stuck between floors; perhaps a chat-free library silent area. But these are all merely annoyances that have quick and easy solutions. Perhaps in 2011, we should wish for “a happy and successful year ahead for the university, its faculty, staff and students.” A positive way to begin the term.