What exciting times we live in! The CUS this week has a referendum before their members to decide on a $500 fee to support the construction of Phase II of the Henry Angus building. This is one half of a point-counterpoint on the subject. This was written by Laura Silvester, outgoing CUS president.

For the counterpoint to this article, please click here.

The question currently being posed to Commerce students is whether or not they are supportive of paying an annual $500 student fee to fund a part of the Henry Angus building renewal project. I will be stating reasons why Commerce students may be in favour of this.

First I must include a note on business school assessment. Business schools are evaluated based on their quality of students, faculty, curriculum, alumni support, and learning environment. These factors influence how the degree is valued by the world.

The Sauder School of Business has excellent students, faculty, and curriculum and we are continuing to improve these. Sauder has made creating a supportive alumni network a high priority and has made notable improvement in this area over the past few years. What’s still missing is our physical learning space.

The benefits of this building renewal project for students can be separated into two categories: 1) INDIRECT – the school (and our degree) will be recognized for it and 2) DIRECT – it will impact our experience at Sauder.


It will be recognized by others – the business community, our alumni, potential future students, potential faculty members, and fellow business schools. Why is this good? It will allow us to continue to attract the best students and faculty from across Canada and globally. Our building will be a place where we can proudly host the business community, our alumni, and visiting schools. This recognition will create opportunities for students while they are at Sauder (for example, increased international case competition access). It also will create opportunities for Sauder graduates in their careers and beyond.


This building renewal will make a difference to the Sauder student experience. How? Academically – top business schools across the world support the effectiveness of case-based and discussion-based learning. Our current classrooms are not effectively set up to support this kind of learning, making it extremely difficult for the school to accommodate student demand for this kind of teaching. Additionally, most courses in Sauder have a group-work component. The physical structure of the school does not currently support the demand for teamwork meeting rooms or discussion areas. Socially – the facility will be a hub where the Sauder community can thrive.

So, let’s assume you accept my previous points and we all agree this project needs to go forward.

Who should pay for this project?

Sauder has been trying for years to seek funding for this project in ways other than from students. The reality is that this project is not a priority for our government (given the healthcare nightmare they have, I don’t blame them). This project is not a priority for UBC as there are so many other building projects on campus that need basic infrastructure. No one else puts this project as high a priority as we do. If the Sauder community wants the project to be completed, we need to be a partner in it.

Is the CUS doing this on behalf of Sauder administration?

This is not about Dean Dan. He has reasons for being supportive of this initiative and has shared these with many students. It is useful for students to understand his perspective, as he is responsible for the value of Sauder’s reputation, which does affect BCOMs. From a student perspective, the direct and indirect benefits I’ve laid out are the most compelling reasons for supporting this fee.

Why is this is all happening so quickly?

The Henry Angus architects cite that to minimize the impact on students, the next phase of construction needs to be started and finished this summer. To do this, the AMS must ratify the results of the CUS referendum at least 21 days after the results have been announced (this means the April 12th Council meeting).

Is this fair to future Sauder students?

This fee would not begin until construction was completed (est. September 2012). Only those receiving the benefit of the completed building would pay the fee. This allows future students to take the fee into consideration as part of their tuition planning. It would also be considered in bursary need calculations so no student would be denied an education a Sauder on the basis of financial need.

As it stands, whether Commerce students vote “yes” or “no” or abstain, today we make a decision for the future of our school and for our future students. Either we ask them to pay an annual $500 fee or we condemn them to face this unfinished project for years to come and to a business school that will struggle to continue to develop with the strength that it has for the past decade.


3 Comments so far

  1. Peter on March 8, 2010 10:46 am

    I just realized something:

    Given that Dean Dan has already committed to going ahead with this regardless of the referendum results (by cutting costs elsewhere), then the argument that this needs to be done immediately goes out the window. Summer construction does not depend on the vote.

    Certainly, from the Dean’s point of view it would be nice to know sooner rather than later so as to prepare the budget for next year, but that doesn’t make it as urgent as implied.

    Further, AMS Council meets in the summer anyway. It could easily ratify it at any point in the future.

    Or did I miss something?

  2. Moses on March 9, 2010 8:22 am

    Yes, I believe you might have missed a detail; although the AMS does meet in the summer, they are not the final stop for this referendum. After the AMS, the matter needs to be passed on to the Board of Governors, who must rattify it. It is crucial that they do so at their April meeting, thus allowing Phase II to proceed in the summer.

  3. Peter on March 9, 2010 2:36 pm

    Moses, that would be correct if they fee was being implemented this year (ie September 2010). But it’s not. It won’t start being collected until September 2012.

    It would seem that students should then have almost two years to discuss this. Right?

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