Keeping students on campus happy is high on the agenda for the University of Calgary these days. The latest efforts from the university include a project to create or renovate as many as 40 new student spaces on campus timed to coincide with the U of C's 40th anniversary.
The project, spearheaded by U of C's Special Advisor to the President on Student Life Sheila O'Brien, comes as a response to what O'Brien believes is a key factor in improving the student experience.
"My role is about improving the quality of student life," said O'Brien. "Occasionally in pursuit of that I will hijack a student and quiz them as to what they felt was needed on campus. From that and other more traditional methods of canvassing student opinion I noticed a recurring theme: the need for more student space on campus."
O'Brien's goal, along with the other stakeholders in the projectÂ--drawn from campus infrastructure, resident services, students and graduate students--is to try and find as many as 40 spaces around campus to either refurbish or re-design, or to reclaim as entirely new student space.
"The money for these spaces is to come entirely from the community of Calgary itself, through donations," said O'Brien. "The project hopes to attract a number of donors, from alumni or interested parties, each of whom will sponsor a student space and become its named patron. Donors are invited to donate $25,000, $50,000, or $100,000 to provide for a space."
Student opinion is mixed.
"They should focus first on offering more classes and reducing class size," said first year general studies student Brittany Simons. "How they teach is more important than these spaces."
Other students agreed with the idea but had their own wish list.
"We need more space, especially space with computers," said second year chemistry student Nellie Jaber. "There are never enough in the library and it's hard to get our work done."
The SU Student Commons, scheduled to be built in the patio area adjoining the MacEwan Student Centre, will be included in the birthday celebrations. SU President Bryan West said students have indicated their desire for more student space.
"New areas like The Loft are packed every day," said West. "There was a time when the only common space was in the library, and you can't have a coffee and relax in there as you can in other areas."