The MCSG Executive Board voted Sunday night 4-1 to permanently close the ice rink on campus and reallocate funds dedicated to it.
Student Body President Patrick Snyder ‘13 announced the decision in an email to the school on Tuesday.
“While we value the serious hard work many individuals have put in to help create and maintain the rink,” he wrote in the email, “We came to the conclusion that creating and maintaining an ice rink on campus was fundamentally outside the scope of MCSG and that it detracted from our larger mission.”
The ice rink came about as a result of accumulated Student Activity Fees, known as the rollover. MCSG held a referendum in fall 2011 to decide how to spend the rollover, and the most popular option at that time was to construct an ice rink on campus.
The rink opened in February to mixed reviews among students. While some saw it as a creative way to engage the school community and an opportunity to provide themed programming, many others considered it a waste of money and felt that the support was not there to justify its existence.
The MCSG bylaws reserved the right of the Executive Board to decommission the rink. Snyder began gauging opinions on the rink after it closed for the year, and the Student Services and Relations Committee issued a survey on students’ thoughts on the ice rink soon after.
As for choosing to exercise the right to vote on the rink’s future, Snyder felt that the board owed it to the school to make a decision on the rink now, rather than put it off to a future date.
“I wanted this year’s Executive Board to vote on the ice rink, as opposed to next year’s, because I felt it was our responsibility to come to a conclusion since we have been the ones overseeing the rink for the past year,” said Snyder. “Additionally, I felt the situation was urgent. I didn’t want to not take action and kick the can down the road further.”
At last week’s meeting, the Legislative Body debated the future of the ice rink, and whether, if continued, it would be the responsibility of MCSG to maintain a project like the rink.
Outgoing Vice President Kai Peterson ‘13 was the only member of the Executive Board to vote to continue funding it. At last week’s meeting, he spoke in favor of continuing the rink, while saying different ways of running the rink need to be explored.
Snyder agreed on the point that MCSG was not the correct organization to supervise the rink.
“Our preeminent responsibilities are to give students a voice in campus governance, advocate for students, and defend their rights at all levels of college policy, and to responsibly allocate proceeds from the student activity fee. Creating and maintaining an ice rink detracts from these larger responsibilities,” said Snyder.
Four other members of the Executive Board—Snyder, Ezequiel Jimenez ‘13, Kate Hamilton ‘13 and Jeff Garcia ‘14—voted to close the rink. Will Johnson ‘13 was not in attendance to vote.
Opponents of continuing the rink that spoke at last week’s meeting cited that support among students was not high enough to ensure it could continue to be maintained properly.
“The ice rink hinges too much on student interest and takes a lot of time and significant expertise to maintain—something which isn’t necessarily improved by just recruiting more people to help with maintenance,” said Snyder.
In addition, it was difficult to find space to store the rink’s materials, something which could prove to be even more difficult in the coming years.
At last week’s meeting, Dean of Students Jim Hoppe noted that it was very difficult to obtain equipment and storage space, considering how Facilities was not supportive of the rink’s construction. Eventually, the Leonard Center reluctantly allowed MCSG to store materials in its facilities, a relationship which MCSG was hesitant about extending for another year given the great lengths they had to go to in order to secure that space.
The incoming Executive Board will begin exploring ways to allocate the rest of the rollover now that those funds have been freed up. Approximately $50,000 was allocated for the ice rink, very little of which was already spent.
“I’m confident that next year’s Executive Board will devise a thorough and fair way to repurpose the funds originally destined for the rink’s maintenance,” said Snyder.
A decision will also be made about what to do with the rink itself next year.