UMSU council to spend up to $200,000 in additional funding for IQ’s renovation

The University of Manitoba Students’ Union (UMSU) approved a motion to spend an additional $200,000 from the capital projects fund for the completion of the IQ’s renovation project at its regular meeting Sept. 14.

The motion was moved to vote by UMSU’s executive committee.

IQ’s Café & Billiards, located on the third floor of UMSU University Centre, was closed over the summer for renovations, which are still being completed. It was the first major renovation to the café in 18  years.

In January, council initially approved spending up to $1 million for the renovations. According to UMSU president Tanjit Nagra, IQ’s was scheduled to re-open just before the start of classes this term.

The meeting was the first time council met since the beginning of the fall term.

IQ’s had a soft opening last Monday following UMSU’s Homecoming Block Party. The official grand opening of IQ’s is yet to be announced.

VP finance and operations Jehan Moorthy explained to council that unforeseen expenses – including asbestos abatement, mechanical and plumbing issues, costs relating to a new point-of-sale system, and the fallout from a power outage over the summer which set renovations back a week.

Moorthy said the money spent to date amounts to just under $1 million, adding that he does not expect the additional funding to be spent in its entirety. He said it will be used as a buffer to pay for all the outstanding costs to ensure IQ’s is operational and functional.

IQ’s “soft open”

IQ’s opened last Monday, though according to Moorthy this was not the official grand opening.

“We have come across with a strategy to create a soft opening, so it’s not sort of officially open yet,” he said.

The decision for the soft opening came following UMSU’s Homecoming Block Party on Saturday. Students got a first look at the space and provided input and feedback on the renovations.

“There’s still certain renovation aspects that need to be complete, and once that’s complete we’ll be having a grand opening where we’ll formally open IQ’s to the students,” Moorthy said.

He added that while he couldn’t yet say when the grand opening would take place, it will happen sometime in the fall term.

Renovations that have yet to be completed include installing an audio/visual and speaker system, putting in new lights above the pool tables, and fixing the nighttime lighting scheme.

Moorthy noted that among the things students should look out for in the newly renovated space are the grab-and-go deli, which has replaced UMSushi; the return of Starbucks favourites; sustainable lighting; board games; and high-end pool tables.

“We want this place to be sort of warm and welcoming for students,” he said.

“This is a place that students want to now go to opposed to students having to go there.”

According to Moorthy, $1.046 million has been spent so far on the project, but he could not provide information on when a completed expense report will be brought to council.

UMSU adopts “It’s Our Turn”

At the same meeting, council also voted to adopt the It’s Our Turn campaign, a national movement started by Carleton University students that aims to address sexual violence on university and college campuses across the country.

The campaign asks student unions to adopt, implement, and adapt programming for prevention, support and advocacy which includes creating and implementing a sexual violence awareness campaign, creating a campus survivor network and developing peer-to-peer sexual violence prevention and support training.

The campaign was also adopted  by the University of Manitoba Graduate Students’ Association and the University of Winnipeg Students’ Association.

VP advocacy Allison Kilgour said she is “very excited” that the motion passed, calling it “a good step.”

“There has been a lot of progress in Manitoba in regards to sexual violence,” she said. “A lot of this has been student-driven, not even from just University of Manitoba students, but from students across the province and I think, fortunately, our administrators and province has heard that.”

Kilgour added that this is not an indication “that we’ve solved the problem.”

She said adopting It’s Our Turn is “a reminder that we’re committed to combating sexual violence, to supporting survivors, to ensuring that we have a safe campus, and just kind of furthering the initiatives we already have.”

Additionally, it is “a statement that we support our colleagues across the country.”

Kilgour noted that UMSU has a position statement that is dedicated to ending sexual violence, but adopting It’s Our Turn will help pursue “more action to ensure that our policies are completely survivor-centred, that they’re comprehensive, that there’s no loopholes or anything in there.”

“Some of the things that I would like to pursue is really making sure that we acknowledge that rape culture exists on this campus, and that it’s not something that’s disappeared,” she said.