The year ahead

A preview of the most anticipated 2013-2014 campus news

On the first week back on campus for most faculties, the average student is likely to find themself caught in the melee at the bookstore, scouring a map for some obscure classroom location, or imbibing at the packed beer gardens at least once (or at least twice). The first week back is, as a matter of tradition, chaos.

In such a climate, it is understandable, albeit unfortunate, if campus news is the last thing on your mind. An exciting news year lies ahead. By way of a “welcome back,” then, or perhaps an all-out introduction to the Manitoban News section, what follows is a short preview of the year ahead—our best guess at the campus stories that will most matter to you between now and when you next don flip-flops and body paint—or the cap and gown.

The University of Manitoba Students’ Union (UMSU) Council made national news this past April when they voted to strip Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) of their official student group status, effectively banning them from using any UMSU-designated spaces on campus.

The resolution banning SAIA has since expired, however, and they are now eligible to re-apply for student-group status. Many will undoubtedly be watching to see whether SAIA attempts to reclaim their official status. In the meantime, there is also the possibility that the group formerly officially known as SAIA will attempt to procure the support of students-at-large through an unsanctioned presence on campus (at any scale).

Even as early as September, it is easy to predict that much coverage is to follow looking at the relationship between UMSU and the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), a provincial and national organization to which UMSU belongs.

UMSU vice-president external Christian Pierce published an open letter in the July 24 issue of the Manitoban raising concerns about a contract the union has with CFS. According to the letter, the contract committed UMSU to purchasing day-timers with the CFS provider with no opt-out clause.

“We received numerous offers from companies whose prices were well below the [CFS] provider [ . . . ] we contacted CFS to cancel our day-timer order with them, but were told that we would still be obliged to pay the $60,000+ total for our order,” reads the letter.

Since then, the Manitoban has learned that UMSU Council has formed an ad hoc CFS review committee.

“That will be an objective review to see what CFS offers, how it can be better, and what we do and don’t like,” said Pierce.

The committee members have not been picked yet, but it should be set to begin its work by mid-September. Four student-at-large positions are available for interested union members.

Talks will continue to take place between UMSU, the University of Winnipeg Students’ Association (UWSA), and the City of Winnipeg to negotiate a U-Pass deal, but the universal bus pass will not turn into a reality this school year.

Christian Pierce told the Manitoban that it is still unclear whether the U-Pass will be included in the City of Winnipeg’s budget, which is to be officially released in December. If the U-Pass does not make it into the budget, the U-Pass will not be available for fall 2014 either.

“Transit needs almost a year to buy more bus passes, hire more drivers, and increase service routes,” explained Pierce.

Soon, the U of M will officially announce what is to be done with the Southwood Golf Course lands on either side of University Crescent, which the school purchased in November 2011. A design competition hosted by the U of M began in December 2012, which asked participants to come up with a “master plan” for the Fort Garry campus, including the Southwood Lands.

“In November, we’ll be able to see the finalists’ and winner’s visions for transforming Southwood into Winnipeg’s most sustainable and desirable new live, learn, work, and play destination,” said John Danakas, the U of M’s director of marketing communications, in a statement to the Manitoban.

While all of the above will make for an interesting news year, anticipation will likely build all the way up to Mar. 13, 2014. On that day, Neil deGrasse Tyson, science advocate and narrator of the forthcoming follow-up to Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, will be in Winnipeg to deliver the keynote speech at the U of M’s Emerging Leaders Dinner.

If you don’t manage to make your way into the event, never fear. Expect to read all about it in your own copy of the official students’ newspaper of the University of Manitoba – one way or another, we’ll be there.