Wholefoods Collective letter to MSA Exec: $80,000 Rent for Wholefoods

 

Open Letter from the Wholefoods Collective to the MSC Executive RE: $80,000 rent for Wholefoods

Dear MSC Executive,

The Wholefoods Collective understands that the University – as part of the  MSA President’s lease agreement negotiations for the MSA – will start  formally charging the MSA $80,000 rent per year for the Wholefoods  space, which will be offset by an equivalent subsidy of $80,000 provided to the MSA.

Currently, because Wholefoods is an MSA space, the University agrees to provide the space “free of charge”.

The reason for a new form of lease arrangement is ostensibly to “regularise the use and possession of the Wholefoods space,” as stipulated in a  past SSAF Funding Agreement. Presumably these changes are intended for  the convenience of the University and the department that manages the  Campus Centre spaces. However the precise meaning of this so-called “regularising” is still not clear and requires further explanation.

The MSA President has repeatedly told Wholefoods Collective members that  the changes are mere formalities and will have no substantial effect on  the MSA or Wholefoods. Yet Wholefoods Collective maintain grave concerns about the newly proposed rental arrangement; indeed, we suspect that it may be a potentially duplicitous move by the University to begin  charging a commercial or subsidised commercial rate of rent for MSA  spaces in future, undermining the MSA’s (and consequently the Wholefoods Collective’s) capacity to provide essential welfare services for  students.

For example, we believe that there is a distinct possibility that the  University will simply withdraw (or threaten to withdraw) the “offset  money” to the MSA for the Wholefoods space, while continuing to maintain the $80,000 charge in rent. This could be potentially disastrous for  Wholefoods and the MSA.

These concerns of ours are not unfounded. We refer you to the example of the “data charges” that the University started invoicing the MSA for a  number of years ago while also providing “offset money” to the MSA to  pay back to the University. In this arrangement the MSA was not  substantially affected by a new cost burden, at least initially. However the University soon stopped providing a subsidy for the data costs,  leaving the MSA bearing the full cost of the data charge. While we  understand that the University has since stopped invoicing the MSA for  the data charges, a similarly precarious situation may eventuate with  Wholefoods and rental arrangement.

The Campus Centre (formally known as the Union Building) is a space that  exists to serve the welfare needs of students. All departments and  divisions of the MSA, including Wholefoods, use this space “free of  charge” as outlined in all previous lease agreements with the  University. This policy is in recognition of the fact that it was  student money and public money that built the Union Building in the  early 60’s for the explicit provision of student services. This is why  all student-run student services, including Wholefoods, do not and  should not pay rent to the University.

The Wholefoods Collective requests that the MSA President refrain from  signing any lease agreement with the University pertaining to the  Wholefoods space until,

a) the Wholefoods Collective is provided with a copy of the agreement and  all relevant information regarding the negotiations around the  agreement, and,

b) the Wholefoods Collective consents to the new lease agreement

Regards,

The Wholefoods Collective.

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Published in: on October 19, 2012 at 5:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

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