Somerville will get major surgery
By Stephanie Cesca
A $4.4 million plan to renovate Somerville House was passed at a Senate meeting Friday.
Ian Armour, president of the University Students' Council, said there has been an urgency for the project due to the lack of sufficient classroom space. "There has even been a problem with classes being cancelled," he said.
Typically, Senate approves proposals prior to the Property and Finance Committee of the Board of Governors. However, in this case the committee approved the classroom proposal prior to the Senate. "This suggests the real urgency of this situation," Armour said.
One of the largest concerns is the allocation of food services in Somerville House, such as the Cafe Somerville and the Peacock Room, two lounges generally designated for professors and university staff.
Three options are currently being considered for the placement of the Peacock Room Talbot College, the second floor of the Wave in the University Community Centre or renovating its original placement in Somerville House.
At the Senate meeting, Armour proposed the Peacock Room be placed above the Wave. Since the Wave already has a kitchen, expenses would be minimal. "I didn't agree with the million dollar expenditure to move the Peacock Room to Talbot College," he said. "Now the Senate is officially considering the Wave as an option."
Armour also claimed the Peacock Room runs a high deficit every year, which is one of the reasons why he opposed moving it to Talbot.
"The two criteria that are vital is that we have to have a place to dine and we have to minimize the expense," said Greg Moran, VP-academic at Western.
Moran also said that although no option has been agreed upon yet, all of them are being considered. Moran added that a solution must be found by the new year which will be based on an internal decision.
Richard Holt, a professor in the faculty of physics and astronomy, also opposed the move to Talbot. "I thought it was ludicrous to spend $1 million to provide a place to eat," he said. "The priority here is classroom space."
Jim McKay, a professor in the faculty of music and a senator who sits on the Senate Committee on University Planning, said he believed the Peacock Room's best option is to be placed in Talbot. "In the short run it would be cheaper," he said. "What if we need more classrooms down the road? And we probably will. Let's look a little farther than just this year."