Students were invited to gather in the lower ceilidh of the JDUC on Nov. 20 to provide the AMS Executive team with suggestions for the redevelopment of the Student Life Centre, tentatively scheduled to begin in 2019.
According to AMS President Jennifer Li, the current projected cost of the redevelopment will be between $50 and $60 million. The redesign will be funded through a mixture of student fees as well as University and donor funding. No students will be charged prior to the construction start date, as Li said they want to ensure those paying in to the project are the ones who will benefit.
In an address to AMS Assembly on Nov. 16, Principal Daniel Woolf predicted the project would take three to eight years to complete and the student portion would be paid over a 20-year period.
The executive team began Monday’s town hall meeting with a presentation regarding the current issues plaguing the JDUC. These include a lack of club and study space, accessibility issues, a lack of natural light and inadequate climate control.
Not only does the JDUC simply not have enough space for the current student population according to Li, but she also said the building has become outdated.
“All students deserve a modern, accessible and safe space to call their own on this campus,” Li said. “We all cherish our student experience […] and that’s only supported by the physical space that we have.”
Through the redevelopment of the JDUC, the executive team hopes to increase spaces available to students, update entryways and elevators to ensure total accessibility as well as provide building-wide updates to address electrical and plumbing-related issues.
By the end of the redevelopment, the team believes this project will allow the JDUC to come up to speed with other modern spaces on campus like Goodes Hall, the new Medical building and the Isabel Bader Centre. Li trusts the new JDUC will “make sure that Queen’s continues to stand out” for prospective students touring campus.
According to Li, the next phase in the design process “will be in consultation with students.” The townhall was one step in gathering suggestions from students on what they’d like to see in the new JDUC.
At the town hall, several engineering students spoke up about their concerns. Since they already have the Integrated Learning Centre (ILC), they said the JDUC isn’t their main student life centre and it “doesn’t need to be.” Due to this, engineering students claimed they will need an incentive to pay in to the JDUC redevelopment.
One engineering student suggested the incorporation of design team rooms suitable for engineering students, which are currently overwhelmed by students in the ILC.
Another student identified a number of accessibility concerns with the current building she’d like to see addressed in the redesign. Specifically, she asked if braille could be added to all room signs throughout the building. As well, she requested elevators and entryways be upgraded to accommodate those with disabilities.
The same student suggested individuals with disabilities be actively involved in the design process “in order to truly understand the little things [that others] wouldn’t even think about” in terms of accessibility.
At the town hall, students also demanded for more versatile spaces to suit a variety of academic and social needs. Society of Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS) President Adam Grotsky spoke to a lack of large rooms to hold keynote speakers, indicating current rooms in the JDUC are often overflowing at popular events.
Rector Cam Yung also said students have approached him with concerns about a lack of dedicated space for visible and religious minorities on campus, including Muslim and Indigenous students.
The executive team recorded all suggestions and reminded those in attendance they will continue to host town hall meetings over the next couple of months to gather sufficient student input on the project.
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