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More than just a hole

/image: Emily Wright
/image: Emily Wright

Article: Dylan Criddle – Contributor

Anyone who has strolled down to the north end of the university has undoubtedly noticed the monstrosity that has become of the Luther College parking lot. The new residency expansion has been a mild inconvenience for commuters and pedestrians alike. Once only an ugly hole in the ground, the residency project has also created a huge hole in all of our pockets. The residency expansion is now expected to bring the University over-budget by nine million dollars. While only time will tell where this money is going to come from, it’s evident that students and University employees won’t like it.

The purpose of this project is an attempt to increase enrollment, and, in turn, increase the University’s revenue. The bulk of non-public funding for the U of R comes from the student pocketbook, whether it be tuition, residency fees, or other miscellaneous expenses. Increasing available residency is one way to increase enrollment, creating opportunities for international students and providing an attractive living option for those moving out for the first time. However, a nine million dollar hole is a mistake that the University can’t afford at this point.

The convenient culprit is the evermore unpopular administration, who have had their hands full with recent non-confidence votes and concerns about political structure. Their recent financial decisions have left many of us scratching our heads. They’ve cut funding to several programs recently due to what they call “attrition.” Yet, they seem to think a one million dollar sign is a reasonable expenditure. If the word attrition is going to be thrown around, the University needs to understand that luxury purchases are only going to bring negative attention, which is especially unwise when making a multi-million investment in new residence.

While the residence project doesn’t appear to have been handled well, it’s important to understand the circumstances surrounding its development. Provincial government cuts have forced the university to limit funding of several programs and also explore new ways to fund them. In response to the recent, nine million dollar hole, the provincial government has offered to try and limit the project’s costs, but refuse to lend any financial assistance. The University also claims that increased costs due to Saskatchewan’s economic boom is what pushed the project over budget. The current government should be doing a better job of making the strong economy work for education, not against it.

At this point, it’s clear the University of Regina is going forward with the project in hopes that future profits will mitigate the costs. In the meantime, short-term costs are bound to have negative impacts on tuition and current programs. While the budget management by the current administration has been questionable at best, the recent gutting by the provincial government is obviously forcing their hand. With little to no outside help on the way, the University has little choice but to continue their capitalist ventures in order to sustain themselves long term. But it would be nice if they did a better job of it.

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