Does Concordia Need A Student Centre? Con

Infographic Hilary Sinclair
Infographic Hilary Sinclair

It’s time to take a few steps back in the student centre debate.

The past few years have seen campaigning, infighting, cash-grabbing and contract-signing for a student centre that is supposed to unite our nomadic school.

We’ve fought over where it should be, who should own it and how we would divvy it up while squirreling away over $10 million to put towards a building.

All this, and I still have no idea why we want one in the first place.

Ideally, the space would be everyone’s go-to on campus. It would be the building you met group members for a project. You could get coffee there and drink it while you highlighted notes. Up the stairs would be your club and down the hall would be your union.

But this concept alone illustrates a severe misunderstanding of the Concordia community.

It assumes that Concordia students spend several hours everyday on campus without a particular purpose. It suggests that we’re all downtown and yet unable to find a space to meet up.

We’re a city school with a population that’s commuting from all over the island. The Concordia Student Union’s space report says that roughly two-thirds of the student body prefers to spend as little time as possible on campus. And that’s okay. It doesn’t mean students are unhappy here, and it doesn’t mean that Concordia’s a terrible school.

The reality is, and will remain, that Concordia students don’t exist in an isolated bubble like our neighbours to the northeast. We interact with the entire city—as our school’s geography demands.

That means that any concept of campus is fluid, and what we define as student space changes more often than the staircases at Hogwarts. Concordia can buy a student centre if it likes, but it won’t necessarily alter the daily habits of students looking to skedaddle after class.

Even the students who do stick around campus aren’t necessarily at Sir George Williams. A student centre downtown would only further isolate Loyola-based students.

Spending this incredible sum on yet more space downtown would be an enormous slap in the face for a campus that barely has a library.

Loyola students don’t need a million-dollar building downtown thats too far to be convenient.

They need more studios and labs, couches and cafés. They need walls between empty classrooms torn down so that large open spaces can become sizeable work environments.

While those of us studying downtown can chow down on everything from a $100 burger to $2.00 falafel, students at the Loyola campus get to answer the oh-so-thrilling Subway-or-Dagwoods question every time their stomachs rumble.

Imagine what a fraction of our student centre budget and cooperation from the university could do for them.

If we collectively agreed that buying a dilapidated building on Ste. Catherine St. W. wouldn’t solve our student space needs, we might be able to reinvest that money into funding projects that might actually make a difference, like finally kick-starting the Hive Café.

A few programs downtown are lucky enough to already have these spaces. The seventh floor of the EV Building hosts a giant studio, designed by the students who use it, that accommodates any and all needs. Café X adjacent, the space is steps away from lab equipment and down the hall from professors’ offices.

The beauty of the space is that it doesn’t try to separate student life and academic needs. The rulers and X-Acto knives help fill the specific needs of the design students and the big comfy pillows are just a nice place to lounge (or nap).

Every department needs a place that’s actually useful to the students, with equipment that matches their needs.

This isn’t a project with the glamour of a new centre, and it would certainly be a logistical nightmare, but spaces like that for every program might actually change things around here.

Until then, I’m fine with a few more space studies from the CSU and dragging this conversation out until we have an option that makes sense.

The longer that money stays in the bank, the more interest it’ll accrue. And we could all enjoy the perks of extra cash, right?