OUSA has decided to give their Squash Court building to the University, putting their future into question, rather than pay around $1,000,000 to do the necessary repairs on the building.
According to a building review undertaken by OUSA at the start of the year, “major work” was needed to repair the facility. The total cost of the upgrade is likely to exceed $1,000,000.
The Exec were presented with four options for the future of the courts, ranging from a full upgrade, converting the buildings into a “multi-sport complex,” which would cost between $1.5 and $2 million, and just doing “The Basics” – fixing the most pressing problems to keep the building serviceable, including fixing the wiring and building a new roof. This option would still cost $300-500K. The fourth option was to give the building to the University for free and let them figure it out.
The courts are currently used by 61 competitive students and have had around 150 casual bookings this year. OUSA’s Finance and Expenditure Committee (winner of the hotly contested title of OUSA’s Most Boring Committee) recommended that the exec go with option four, saying “it is unjustifiable to expend such a significant amount of funds for the benefit of one OUSA club and a small number of casual students”.
“120 students does not correspond into spending that much money,” said Tiana Mihaere, Te Roopū Māori Tumuaki, “They [the Squash Club] should forfeit it”.
James Heath, Education Officer, pointed out that the Squash Club has enjoyed a “position of privilege” in OUSA, and that no other club gets a whole building dedicated just to their activity.
The exec voted unanimously for option four, giving the courts to the Uni.
There was some speculation among the exec as to whether the building could be sold instead of just given to the Uni. Sam Smith, OUSA Finance Officer, said that the building was “useless” and that the University was “doing us a favour” by taking it.
Matt Ditchburn, President of the Squash Club, said that the Squash Club understood the decision and supported OUSA’s decision-making process.
“OUSA have their own agenda, which is to provide funding fairly and proportionally to their massive number of clubs while standing up to huge budget cuts from the University. The Squash Courts needed a large capital injection to bring the building up to scratch, and OUSA couldn't justify it, even for a club with over 130 student members, lots of casual court use and rising overall memberships.”
However, the courts may stay open for at least another year under the University’s ownership. “There are negotiations in the works with the University about keeping the courts open for use, to give us a chance to figure out the Squash Club's next step,” Matt said.
Critic assumes that the million dollars that OUSA didn’t spend repairing the Squash Courts will be funnelled straight to us and have started spending accordingly.