Queen’s Alma Mater Society holds town hall on proposed John Deutsch University Centre redevelopment

The John Deutsch University Centre is the heart of student life at Queen’s University.

The Alma Mater Society is housed in the building, which also serves as a space for a number of clubs. Students also use the centre to study and socialize.

The JDUC, as it’s called on campus, is also old.

The Alma Mater Society has been spearheading a $62-million plan to redevelop the building, which dates back to the mid-19th century.

The university is contributing funds for the project, and fundraising will also help cover some of the cost. But a plan for students to contribute as well recently hit a snag.

The AMS held a referendum on a tuition increase to help fund the project. Graduate and professional students voted in favour of a mandatory $40 increase in tuition for the redevelopment project.

However, undergraduate students voted down the proposed $89 tuition increase they would have had to pay.

AMS president Miguel Martinez says the organization has learned a lot since that day.

“The AMS conducted an exit poll survey to understand why students voted the way that they did. We learned that students weren’t against the idea of a new student life centre, they just wanted more specifics,” said Martinez.

To provide those specifics, the AMS has held four town hall meetings, with the last one specifically aimed at students.

A two-hour session was held in the JDUC to let students hear first-hand from the project’s architects and give students an opportunity to provide feedback.

Martinez says a number of focus group sessions are planned to take place over the course of the current semester.

“We also have a survey that’s live right now. It’s been live for just under a week, and we already have about 850 responses,” said Martinez.

This is all leading up to a second undergraduate referendum, expected to take place in the first several weeks of the second semester.

Martinez says they have a mandate for the second vote after looking at the results of the exit poll.

If the second referendum is successful, construction work is expected to begin at some point in 2020 and will take roughly 18 months to complete.

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