qmunicate investigates the impact of the Hive on the student experience
The Hive is possibly set for closure. You didn’t hear it here first. You’ve probably heard it time and time again. But it’s true. The University has revealed that there are plans to terminate the Union’s long standing lease of the building.in order to demolish the extension and use the space to construct Sport and Recreation facilities as an expansion of those in the Stevenson Building. As well as being a severe blow to the GUU itself this action also raises the question as to whether the university will end other leases on other buildings that it currently owns but rents out at a peppercorn rate to various student bodies on campus.
The Extension, built in 1965, is home to the Union’s Playing Fields, Altitude and Deep Six bars in addition to the Hive nightclub. Their loss will come as a big blow to the Union financially, as £220,000 of the Union’s income is made from the extension alone. Due to the fact the GUU makes a profit of around £10,000 per annum, the loss of almost a quarter of a million pounds in income would be catastrophic to the existence of the union as we know it. Despite a figure of £250,000 per year in compensation being reported, GUU President Chris Sibbald, told qmunicate that no such deal or offer has been made by the University’s Senior Managment.
The move is apparently prompted by the ending of the University’s 25 year old contract with Glasgow Life, an operating name for Culture and Sport Glasgow. This is the charity in charge of Glasgow City Council’s sports and recreational facilities, including the Kelvin Hall Sports Arena, amongst others. Glasgow Life and the University had contracts agreeing that University athletes could use the Sports Arena’s facilities for training and indoor sport purposes. However, Glasgow Life had planned to renovate and refurbish the Arena and had hoped that the University would contribute £3.5 million to the project. This would ensure the University’s future use of the facilities, with a service charge of £170,000 per year. However, the University has instead decided to develop its own facilities at a projected cost of £9.2 million.
In a joint statement made with the GUU, the University has recognised the Hive’s importance as part of student life. “The University greatly values the contribution made by the GUU and will be working closely with the Union to ensure it continues to be a successful, important and vibrant part of campus life. The social space in the current Hive is important to sustain the GUU’s activities and income base”
The University also recognized the need for a replacement social space in the event of the Hive closing: “Senior Management and GUU are in positive and constructive discussions on how we can best provide space which will allow the GUU to maintain its social facilities. What is under no doubt is our determination that the development of a Sports Extension will only happen when such an alternative facility is identified. Our aim is to work towards developing a mutually acceptable solution by December 2011. We will ensure that we will work together and that the University will only commit to the Sports Extension when we are also able to commit to a development of GUU social space that will sustain its activities.”
The Queen Margaret Union released a statement in reply to the University’s plans:
“The board of management of the Queen Margaret Union would like to register its firm opposition to the proposals by the University of Glasgow management to demolish the extension at Glasgow University Union.”
“ These proposals display a callous disregard for the future of the GUU. They have the potential to be dangerously detrimental to the much-vaunted student experience at the University of Glasgow”
Speaking to qmunicate, Chris Sibbald confirmed that he was happy with the way negotiations were going, and that he felt assured by the Principal’s pledge that no plans would go ahead until both sides have reached an accord.
But while the previous President of the SRC knew of the forthcoming plans throughout his term, and despite the architectural plans presented to the GUU being dated 2009, the Union’s President was not made aware of these plans until late this year, making University claims of a consultative process appear largely superficial.
qmunicate also spoke to one student who said, “I for one would be devastated if the Hive were to be demolished. I’m not a regular but it would set a precedent that the Uni could do whatever they wanted with regard to the student bodies.”