MUN proposes lavish skating loop while existing infrastructure in poor condition

Proposed skating loop and infrastructure woes.

On October 11th, 2021, Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) tweeted, “A skating trail on campus? Let us know how you feel about the idea and others. Survey now open!” It was met with criticism across social media, and many people brought up neglect at the university.

John FitzGerald stated, “Memorial University is increasing tuition, but now it announces that it also wants to build a skating loop? MUN has lost its way and lost the run of itself. Too many overpaid administrators. Call in the Auditor General.”

Linda Russell said that her first thought when she read the article was “of the buckets catching the leaks in the tunnels. And of other crumbling infrastructure.”

Sgath asked, “How about focus on those immediate plans like fixing the crumbling infrastructure, asbestos, leaks and floods? They then stated that “Long term plans for an ice rink to bait and switch international students is tone-deaf, to say the least.”

MUNFA’s Robin Whitaker said, “Fine, but not until we can move around campus by foot, bike or wheelchair safely and without having to dodge highspeed, light-running commuter traffic (including the ones leaving the parkway to take a shortcut via Morrisey Rd & Arctic Avenue.”

Jeff Muggeridge said, “Wow! Lots of money at MUN. A couple of new high-paying management jobs and now a skating trail. Lower tuition again, please.”

Gerry Martin stated, “There seems to be a disconnect between the head and the budget. Who would believe jacking up tuition and building an ice rink came from the same person?”

Former journalist and current student Melissa Jenkins stated, “Well, the idea came from an architect firm in Toronto… so they are paying outside companies to come up with these idiotic ideas. The City of St. John’s already had the Loop and many skating places. This is absolutely unnecessary and a waste of money. Is this what my increased tuition has come to? Wasteful money ideas? I can think of 1,000,000 better ideas for money than this. Find savings, not spending.”

Local accessibility advocate Lisa Marie Walters stated, “You need to make the campus more accessible to disabled students first, and safer for everyone, so they don’t have to be exposed to asbestos on campus. Even putting in the work to have a rendering of this rink made is proof that you’re not listening to students’ needs.”

Steven Butt said, “You guys can’t even manage to keep the tuition frozen, never mind this thing.”

Twitter handle @GreatAuk709 states, “Cannot believe you are this disconnected from what is important for your students.  As an alumnus, I am appalled that you think it is appropriate to put this out there.”

Jennifer Dawe stated, “I would love this idea if the rest of the facilities were up to par, and there hadn’t been an exponential increase in tuition announced. This is tone-deaf at best.”

A picture by Twitter user @azuquita_morena.

Twitter user @azuquita_morena asked, “Why don’t we invest that money in fixing existing buildings? Giving the SWCC [Student Wellness and Counselling Centre] more money? Fixing all the broken elevators so disabled students can have an easier time getting to class? Instead of pretty photo-op places to bait and switch future students with?”

Vladimir said, “MUNSU has heard these comments so many times, and they still haven’t done anything about it. So that should show you where their priorities are.”

Joanne said, “Maybe fixing up the Reid Theatre would be nice. It can be rented out, which would generate much-needed funds for the university.”

Twitter user @CofIndustry asked, “Double the tuition during an economic meltdown, and the best you can offer is a shitty skating trail?”

Kathy Hogan asked the question, “This has to be a joke, right?” They then stated, “Crumbling infrastructure, asbestos abatement and leaks that have been on the go for decades (I graduated in 98, worked there in 07-08), and the Reid Theatre!”

Eva Powers Browne said, “Don’t waste money on that. I don’t go to MUN; however, the pictures and comments are shocking and a disgrace. Fixing the campus for students should be your first priority, not a skating loop which Bannerman Park has.”

Jen said that “Envisioning a student (who already has to navigate MUN’s grounds carrying 30-40 lbs of books, a tablet/laptop) now having to carry ice skates plus winter footwear? Nonsensical!”

Twitter user @Braepil stated, “Respectfully, MUN has difficulty keeping paths safe in the winter. Adding more ice to campus is not the solution.  Also, are the MUNnels still leaking? That may be a good investment.”

Twitter user @katcrumm asked, “can we get rid of the asbestos in the buildings, please?”

Cathy stated, “Let’s improve, update and maintain our current facilities before constructing new ones. Also, please consider reallocating funds to maintain tuition rates rather than developing another complex.”

Mike Pretty asked, “What is MUNs obsession with building new things with existing facilities falling down?”

Historical Archaeology Ph.D. student Robyn S. Lacy stated, “I’d love to be able to drink water out of the taps at Queens College, but unfortunately, all our pipes our lead, and no one seems to be interested in fixing that.”

Jan M asked, “Can we please just fix the leaks? Hoses into a trash can are not a fix. It has been years.”

A picture by Twitter user Jan M.

Alex Aucoin said, “I agree with everyone who mentioned fixing the asbestos problems. Also, this seems like a distraction from the tuition increases.”

Allison Murphy said, “Such a ridiculous idea, there is an infinite list of things that students are asking for on-campus – clean water, working elevators, asbestos-free buildings, more parking, better education- but this is what you will spend money & effort on? #putstudentsfirst”

Karen V Gill asked, “How out of touch with reality is Memorial University?” She then suggested, “How about fix the leaks, remove the asbestos, fix the elevators, make every floor of every building accessible, make the water safe to drink, replace the parking you took to display a whale skeleton, make each classroom accessible…”

Rebecca Williams said, “Elevators are broken, the tunnels leak, the Reid Theatre is left to rot, the threat of lead poisoning if the water is consumed in some buildings, asbestos….I could go on…”

Robyn LeGrow stated, “Just when you think the ivory tower couldn’t be any further from the actual realities being faced by ‘regular’ human beings, they put out stuff like this. Smarten up.”

Twitter user @IndecisivAnthro said, “Nobody asked for this… we just want the tuition hike cancelled.”

Kelsie said, “MUN, we all know you don’t need to build a skating rink when the entire campus becomes one in the winter and students have had to climb through snow to get into some buildings.”

Twitter user @RowdyFrowdie said, “The tunnels leak, disabled students can’t get to certain places because the elevators have been out of service for so long and most buildings are critical behind in maintenance. Focus on that instead. Some people can’t even skate; how is this a good use of resources??”

Former journalist Conor McCann stated, “It’s worth noting here that my retirement plan is, in its entirety, to be part of a class-action lawsuit against the university for some kind of asbestos-related respiratory condition.”

Christopher Mercer asked, “Can we get the physical education building renovated first, Aquarena replaced, the theatre in the area building operating again, etc., before we do this?” He then said that it is “a lavish and unnecessary expense given the state of our infrastructure.”

Morgan Manuel asked, “Next can we turn the MUNnels [system] into a hyperloop!?” They then commented, “Glad to see that extra tuition money is being well spent!”

Liam said, “I think tuition not more than doubling and asbestos-free buildings are a good start.”

Matt Barter is a fourth-year student in the Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty at Memorial University of Newfoundland, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Sociology. He enjoys reading thought-provoking articles, walks in nature, and volunteering in the community.

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