Pictured is a Student Centre Challenge poster, which have sprung up all over campus lately. Photo by Jenny Fisher.
Pictured is a Student Centre Challenge poster, which have sprung up all over campus lately. Photo by Jenny Fisher.

Recently, Trent University launched a campaign, the Trent Student Centre Challenge, encouraging faculty and staff to donate to the Student Centre project. The Challenge is going to be the source of a portion of the project’s $4 million fundraising goal. The premise is that staff and faculty will match the contributions that students will be making once the student centre levy comes into effect with the beginning of the next academic year in September.

Sherry Booth, Trent University’s Campaign Director, is pleased that the Student Centre project is underway, saying that students have been working towards getting a student centre for a while now, and “to have them finally succeed is really an exciting point for us.”

She also says that university staff also strongly believe in the project, and therefore the Trent Student Centre Challenge provides an opportunity for them to make a contribution of their own. “The Student Centre Challenge is really because the faculty and staff feel very strongly that this is something the university – and more so the students – need. A part of the plan to make this a reality is fundraising for this.”

The Challenge was developed with the help of several students, such as the former Trent Central Student Association President Braden Freer, and Board of Governors member Dorcas Mensah. Booth says that the concept was created around the idea of how staff and faculty can make similar contributions to the students, saying: “It really was ‘the students have done this, what can we ask the faculty and staff to do?’”

The solution was to emulate the student contributions. Beginning with the start of the next academic year, Trent students will pay a $95 levy to the Student Centre project. The Student Centre Challenge asks that administration staff and faculty match or even multiply the $95 contribution the students make.

“The actual challenge […] is really to match – double match, triple match, quadruple match, or more – the student levy,” says Booth. “The students are putting down $95 a year going forward, and we’re asking faculty, staff, and board members to make a five year pledge.”

Booth indicated that the Challenge was also based on inclusivity and a sense of “marching along together.” By giving staff and faculty members a chance to contribute, they get a sense of involvement with the project.

“The overall goal for the fundraising component of the student centre is over four million dollars so it’s a fairly heavy price tag, but it’s a participation thing and I think it’s a little bit of a unifying thing as well for campus to rally around this important initiative,” said Booth. “The expectation is not that we’re fundraising from the students, this is really an initiative for the rest of the Trent family to rise to the challenge and help where they can and how they can.”

TCSA Acting President Myra Asmar also commended the Challenge’s inclusivity. ““I think it’s really great that the university has started this because now it’s involving the whole university so it’s not just the students but the faculty and staff,” she said, adding that involving the campus as a whole will help build excitement for the project.

Excitement appears to be building, as the Challenge has been welcomed favourably so far. With a month yet to go before the April 30 deadline, Booth says that pledges are being received every day, though results and current totals are not being publicly announced yet. “We’re early into the challenge now, a few weeks in, and I must say we’re receiving a really wonderful response.”

Booth is also hopeful that those who have already pledged to the Challenge will encourage others to do so. “We obviously are asking for some strong fundraising leadership from the senior administration of the university so those that can step up, we’re asking them to do so because $4 million is a substantial goal.”

The $4 million fundraising goal will not be met solely through the Trent Student Centre Challenge, but the initiative provides a base for the campaign to go outside the school as well. By demonstrating that the entire campus has done their part in raising funds, external funding sources can be approached.

“Not only did the students show their leadership, but everyone on campus stepped up where they could and how they could. “That’s a great message to take out: we’ve done it at home, everyone here is rallying but we need your help,” says Booth.

Booth also explained that an initiative is going to be established at the Durham campus, one that ties directly in with student life there. More details will be announced in conjunction with the April 10 celebration of the Durham campus’ 40th anniversary.

In the meantime, fundraising continues in Peterborough, and Booth encourages those who have yet to take part to do so: “We’re still extending the challenge, pledge today!” Those interested in making a pledge or learning more about the initiative can visit mycommunity.trentu.ca/student-centre-challenge.