Feeling the squeeze

Jan 11, 2013 · News · By Erwin Melocoton

Ezra Wasser
Andrew Noble (file photo)

Noble: Feds looking at ways to increase student space

Even with the new student-building proposal on the way, though delayed, Federation of Students (Feds) is looking at other areas on campus to expand student space to partner with the new building. The new student building plans are not yet ready for a referendum, as stated by Feds president Andrew Noble, but are moving forward.

According to Noble, Waterloo’s student space is lacking compared to other post-secondary institutions across Ontario. Feds has looked into the issue and brings attention to the gap between Waterloo and other schools.

“We know that, at Waterloo, only 9 per cent of the campus is student space, whereas the average college in Ontario has about 13 per cent,” said Noble.

In Feds’ student consultations over the summer to look into student space, Noble stated that students wanted more space in the traditional student-space areas. The consultations involved over 1,500 students, asked where in the existing buildings they would like to see more student space realized.

Looking to maximize the current space in buildings like Mathematics and Computers (MC), the Student Life Centre (SLC), and the Davis Centre (DC), can help solve this issue along with the new building. Small modifications to the spaces could lead to getting closer to the provincial average.

“Simple things, like rather than putting millions of dollars into a new building, maybe just put more tables on the first floor to utilize that space,” Noble said. “And even allowing more classrooms to be utilized as study space rather than being closed down at 4 o’clock.

“Those spaces right now, like the Davis Centre, are always over-saturated with students that are studying,” said Noble. “Especially around exam time — but not just around exam time — it seems to always be crowded.”

But this is not a sign that Feds is looking to abandon the new student building plans; rather, they intend to broaden and enrich the current vision of a more student-oriented university. It is a critical time for the current Feds executives to show tenacity in dealing with the administration, as they push to reach a solution for the proposed building, and to strengthen the trust with students after the Federation Hall conflict and ensuing hostility with school administration.

“We still feel like there is a desire among students to bring a new building to the campus. However, we are not going to do a new building for the sake of a new building. We are going to do a new building in our facilities plan for all campus. That’s what we are working on, bringing to the university.”

The building is thought of to be a part of a larger vision for Waterloo students, one where the whole campus is being considered for attaining more space for students. But at the start of the current Feds executives tenure, the relationship between them and the school administration was strained to say the least, with the Federation Hall matter looming.

Now, considering the past eight months, with negotiations seemingly closer than ever to a resolution, and with a finalized compensation proposal from the university given to Feds, it seems that solutions to the student space issues and the new proposed building are closer than before.

“Now we are at the point where we are working towards not just a referendum towards the student building, but towards a referendum for a more student focused campus,” Noble said.

At the end of the day, the new proposed building will still offer more utility and flexibility for students and clubs through student space that can be defined by students. Rather than seeing this  space in the image of the SLC, specifically the SLC Multi-Purpose Room, the possibilities eclipse it.

“That’s what I see, the potential of it as being a multi-faceted, technology-enabled space to reflect the need of students nowadays,” Noble said. “So the new building has potential to be a game-changer.”

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