Returning to the JDUC

Part Two of a JDUC Renovation Series

With the creation of Common Ground coffee lounge marking another stage in the continuing renovations of the John Deutsch University Centre (JDUC), a growing sense that recreation is returning to campus has been expressed by many students.

Initiated by the Alma Mater Society (AMS), the creation of the student- owned and operated on-campus coffee house and entertainment venue is part of a larger five-to-ten-year plan to construct an expensive and expansive Student Life Facility at Queen’s, which is envisioned as a future nerve centre for extra-curricular activity on campus.

While the Common Ground management reports that business has been booming during the establishment’s first week of operation, AMS President Paul Heisler maintains that the AMS’s aim in the endeavor has little to do with amassing profits.

“The Common Ground is not about selling coffee. The Common Ground is about creating a venue for recreation and entertainment that is open to students regardless of whether they want to spend the money there or not, “ he said.

Heisler explained that the AMS recognized the need to diversify the services offered in the JDUC and to accommodate the increasing number of underage students coming to the University who are generally excluded from the on-campus pub life.

“In three years approximately 35 per cent of students are not going to be legally allowed to drink in pubs and we realized how critical it was for the AMS to provide services that are appealling and meet the needs of a wide range of students on campus,” he explained.

Common Ground Manager (marketing and entertainment) Amanda Heale described the new coffee lounge as a “welcoming and low key” alternative to the campus pubs for students of all ages. “Any alcoholic atmosphere does create a different kind of atmosphere. There’s a little bit more pressure involved,” she explained.

“We have a really happy and enthusiastic staff and a very warm setting that makes for a really comfortable place to be. Whether you’re coming by yourself of with friends, either way, it’s not an intimidating environment at all,” she added.

Heale emphasized that Common Ground’s hours of operation (it is open until midnight Sunday to Wednesday and until 3 a.m. Thursday to Saturday), are unique in terms of non-alcoholic recreation both on and off campus.

“There’s really nowhere you can go in Kingston that doesn’t serve alcohol that’s open past 10:00 p.m. and no where you can go on campus that’s open past 8:00 p.m.,” she said.

James Dunlop, ArtSci ’01, described the creation of Common Ground as a significant improvement on the past state of the second floor of the JDUC that students will appreciate.

“I think they made excellent use of the space available. I think it was wasted beforehand and they did a lot of good with it and I think its going to be very popular,” he commented.

Jennifer Allen, ArtSci ’03, highlighted the appeal of the new establishment as an atmosphere conducive to encouraging student communication and recreation on campus.

“I’m from a small town where we don’t have many places like this to congregate and talk to our friends. Especially in the winter, it will be nice to come between class and grab a cup of tea. I think it’s a great atmosphere,” she explained.

Emphasizing the total package of services provided to students by the new establishment beyond the coffee, Common Ground Manager Jhod Cardinal explained the management’s plans to exploit the entertainment possibilities of the coffee lounge.

“We want to turn it into an entertainment venue, not just a coffee house with a stage...We’ll have at least three acts a week and its been a goal to bring it up to five to seven,” he said.

Heisler believes that the introduction of services like Common Ground has resulted in more students choosing to spend increasing amounts of their recreation time on campus, which he sees as a positive change from past years. “I’ve been spending way too much time in the JDUC for four years and this is the first week in which I’ve seen a constant stream of people on this floor who aren’t on their way to the QP [Queen’s Pub] or the UBS [Used Book Store]. It’s amazing to actually see people using their university centre as a hangout.”

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