SAITSA makes history with a precedent-setting gift to SAIT
Money will support future student space
SAIT's Students' Association (SAITSA) has made a historic $10 million gift to SAIT, the largest gift in Western Canada from a students' association to an institute of technology. The money was raised through student fees contributed by approximately 70,000 SAIT students over the past ten years. It will support plans to create a future, dedicated space for student activities.
Students, staff, faculty, alumni and donors gathered in the Irene Lewis Atrium on Wednesday, Jan. 23 to celebrate the announcement.
Ryan Morstand, the chair of SAITSA's elected board, presented the gift on behalf of current and former students as well as past and present SAITSA leaders, many of whom came back to join in the celebration.
"We're a diverse group of students representing a variety of backgrounds and disciplines," said Morstad. "We united to raise funds to pursue a dream and to leave a legacy for future generations of students. This is a remarkable accomplishment."
SAIT President and CEO Dr. David Ross called the gift unprecedented and inspiring.
"We are celebrating a significant investment thanks to the positive and long-lasting relationship between our institution and our students' association. We look forward to building on this historic partnership as we work together for the benefit of SAIT students for many years to come."
The gift is the culmination of a plan created by student leaders during the 2007 and 2008 academic terms.
David Jones, BA '09, who was SAITSA president at the time, says his executive made a concerted effort to plan for the future.
"We heard from students year after year that there was a serious need for a central place to serve their non-academic needs - a place for clubs to hold meetings and additional spaces we could gather outside of class time with resources available to use at a moment's notice."
"We knew it was going to take money," he added, "and it wasn't going to happen overnight."
SAITSA instituted an incremental fee that would be collected over a period of time and explained to students that the fee would eventually be used for a new facility dedicated to the needs of students.
"I'd be lying if I said everybody was happy to pay more, but the reaction was overwhelmingly positive. Our students understood the need and they all contributed to this incredible accomplishment."
Dr. Ross credited SAITSA for the way it represents students. He said the gift shows that the association fosters healthy student life, cultivates a culture of collaboration and aligns itself with SAIT's goal of student success through applied education.
"This is a monumental day for SAIT. It started with that vision from David and the SAITSA executive of 2009 and now SAIT alongside the current SAITSA executive will build upon that vision to make it a reality in the not-too-distant future."