Students’ union and university finalize lease agreements
The students’ union of Memorial University (MUNSU) and the university’s administration have concluded agreements to manage lease arrangements for the students’ union on the St. John’s campus.
The agreements also include arrangements regarding the management of various loans associated with the move from the former Thomson Student Centre to the Smallwood University Centre.
In addition, the agreements cover the transfer of the university’s food court and Daycare Centre to the management control of the university. The operations had been managed by the students’ union, but for some time the union has expressed a desire to move out of those businesses and focus more on other student services.
The agreements were signed on April 28.
“These agreements are something we have been working to develop for several years and we welcome them,” said Cletus Flaherty, past president of MUNSU. “The students’ union was not an organization set up to manage these kinds of commercial operations. However, we’re confident that the university will be able to maintain these operations that the union developed to ensure quality services to students. The agreement puts the union on a sounder financial footing, sets out a path to prosperity and enables us to reinvest our time and resources in other areas of service to our members.
“We have secured our space in the University Centre and a preferential student access to the daycare centre. The agreement also will mean greater independence for the union, financially and otherwise, and that’s also something we were seeking.”
Dr. Lilly Walker, Memorial’s dean of student affairs and services, said the new arrangement will be good for both the students’ union and the entire student body.
“The agreement is win-win for MUNSU and the university community,” said Dr. Walker. “Initially our main priority is to ensure continuity of service in the various operations. In terms of Memorial’s daycare centre, clients will see no
change in service or staff. With the food court, we intend to build on the good relationships that exist with the vendors and, over time, look towards expansion in that area to provide even greater variety and choices for our students.”
“I particularly want to thank Mr. Flaherty for the time and attention he and his council gave to concluding this matter,” said Dr. Walker. “Their work will benefit the students of Memorial University for years to come.”
The agreements include the following provisions:
MUNSU Space in Smallwood University Centre
• Commercial tenant space, including the food court, in the Smallwood University Centre will now be managed by the university.
• MUNSU retains control of space related to MUNSU programming. The university has leased to MUNSU (at a cost of $1 per year) specific spaces related to its student programs and services in the Smallwood University Centre including the Breezeway, the MUNSU offices and other areas.
• Management responsibility for the food court will revert to the university.
• The university is reviewing its management options to decide whether to manage the operation itself or to contract out the service.
• Management responsibility for MUNSU’s food court employees will revert to the university.
• A new not-for-profit entity will assume management and operational responsibility for the Daycare Centre. It will have an independent board of directors selected by the university, MUNSU and parent clients.
• Employees of the Daycare Centre will become employees of the not-for-profit entity.
• MUNSU will provide an annual grant of $20,000 to the Child Care Centre.
• Students will continue to have priority access to the centre.
• Memorial University will assume the responsibility for the loan debts associated with the move of food court clients from the Thomson Student Centre to the Smallwood University Centre. Profits from the food court operations will be used to retire this debt.
• Memorial will take responsibility for capital debt associated with the creation of the Daycare Centre. Profits from the food court operations will be used to retire this debt.
• Profits from the food court, once these outstanding debts have been retired, will be directed exclusively to the university’s Student Affairs and Services unit for the benefit of the entire student body.
• MUNSU will retain responsibility for the cost of leasehold improvements made at the time of the transfer of operations from the Thomson Student Centre to the University Centre.