What is Fed Hall?In 1984, the Federation of Students (Feds) voted in a referendum to construct a night club for students, the $1.5 million cost being paid over the course of 20 years by a rise in student fees. In 1997, the fee was further increased by $5 a term for a time in order to fund renovations. This night club came to be called Federation Hall (Fed Hall) and was very popular.
Feds has never had true ownership of Fed Hall; like all buildings on campus, it is owned by the University of Waterloo. The lease signed in 1984 had a clause stating that the University could not unreasonably withhold renewal of the lease. This meant that Fed Hall was intended to be run by students for students in perpetuity. Unfortunately when the lease was renewed in 2004, the clause regarding unreasonably withholding renewal of the lease was dropped under clouded circumstances. In 2010 the lease was renewed again, only this time terms stating that either party could unilaterally terminate the lease were added. In April of 2011, the University informed Feds that it intended to terminate the lease, effective April 30, 2012, and operate Fed Hall by itself.
This is unacceptable.
This building was paid for by several generations of students here at the University of Waterloo. We, as current members of the student body, have a responsibility to those who paid for this building to ensure that it remains a student operation catering primarily to students. This is because if the University takes Fed Hall, it will become impractical for students to host events at Fed Hall due to costs and licensing concerns.
The Federation, blindsided by this move from the University, has been trying to negotiate with the administration. At the June meeting of the Board of Governors, the meeting room was filled with students showing support for the Federation's continued operation of Fed Hall. The administration, in fear of the issue coming before the Board directly, signed an agreement with the Federation stating, in part:
The University is committed to a continued partnership on student space with the Federation of Students and respects the Federation's request for further dialogue and negotiations on the plans for Federation Hall.
Since then, the Feds executive have reported that the University has stopped negotiation, and that is how this initiative came to be.
We feel that the University does not care for students' rights to, or the history of Federation Hall. Furthermore we also feel that the University is concerned primarily with making sure that its own businesses run successfully and cares little for ensuring that students have reasonable access to the services that Fed Hall provides. As such, we believe that the students need to stand up to and inform the University that their designs are unacceptable and that the University needs to respect the students. The University has changed its course due to student pressure before, and it will do it again. The only question is: Will you help make sure that they do so now?