Saturday, October 27, 2007

Unpublished U-square consultation results!

Well, results from the September U-Square consultation have been compiled, but not yet published. I thought they were pretty interesting, so here they are, in handy graphical format. Click the graph images to enlarge them. Thanks to Margaret Orlowsky for sending me the results.

If you filled out the forms, you'll recall that the 1-5 ranking represents a range from 1 ("would not meet vision") to 5 ("would meet vision").

This graph (above) has the results from the first part of the survey form, which asked about individual prospective elements for the U-Square space. I didn't include all of them, but the main ones are there. As you can see, housing and store retail are the most unpopular, with most people ranking then at 1. Food retail fares better with a more even distribution. Surprisingly, neither the Boardroom (intended for conferences, BoG and Senate meetings) or Alumni Centre were especially popular - I like both these elements quite well. The grassy knoll and open space elements are the most popular. "Grassy Knoll substitute" (some sort of structured green space) was fairly was popular. The only buildings with an upwards trend in the whole questionnaire are a SUB expansion and student social space, and more moderately, the vague "community hall" (which nobody seems to be able to define). All the others, including the university's development office, and continuing studies do poorly.

This graph shows the results for the four combinations of elements that were suggested on the feedback forms. Combo 1 (with housing and retail as well as service stores) is essentially what the plan for U-square was before May, when the student petition and AMS policy opposing the plan convinced the BoG to redesign. So it's not surprising that it's the least well-received. Combo 4 was put on the form due to the efforts of the student representatives on the U-square planning committee, and contains less built space than the others.

To me, these results show that a combination with minimal building, mostly open space, a knoll, and some public social space would be the most welcome option. I think an alumni/welcome centre and boardroom in the centre of campus, would be great too, but most of the respondents seem to disagree. Looking at the results from the individual elements, it looks like none of the combos integrate the most popular items. The important thing to remember is that we can't really have it all. If we want a SUB expansion, that's less open space and less green space. It's important to keep in mind that only about 300 people answered the forms - not a great sample. It's possible that the results are skewed towards the organized "save the knoll" faction.

About the committee process: This feedback form and the responsiblity for dealing with the results resides with the U-Boulevard planning committee, which includes 3 student reps: Brendon Goodmurphy from the AMS, Matt Filipiak from the GSS, and Margaret Orlowsky, at-large. This committee was touted by the President as the harbinger of a new era of working together with students on development issues. It seems that according to Matt and Margaret, the process hasn't been exactly what they expected - the students on the committee are giving input and coming up with ideas, but the actual decisions are made by Nancy Knight, and Joe Stott, the two university representatives. Like all committee structures, the people who do the actual work (ie. the writing) have the real power: in this case, these are people that work in Nancy and Joe's offices. Now we're hearing that Nancy and Joe are unhappy with the results I've just outlined. Since they're the ones that give instructions to the architects, and there's no binding vote on the options, we may have reason to worry, despite the presence of student representation. To quote Margaret "they keep asking what meaningful consultation is - it's asking what people they want you to do, and then doing it". It seems like the university still has problems with this concept - especially when the people doing the consultation are the same people that were responsible for (and are still personally attached to) the old and failed plans.