Campus rallies to support Grad Club

Students flock to The Grad Club to oppose the bar’s possible demolition.
Students flock to The Grad Club to oppose the bar’s possible demolition.
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Undergrads, graduate students, faculty and staff packed The Grad Club Nov. 24 to collectively voice their support for the popular campus hangout.

Members of the Law Students’ Society hosted the “Save The Grad Club” party and fundraiser to show support for the campus bar and circulate a petition opposing current proposals by the Union Street Project, which calls for the demolition of whole or part of The Grad Club’s building.

The University began the Union Street Project early last year to develop plans to improve the section of Union Street between Albert and Barrie streets.

Jamie Spotswood, Law ’06 and president of The Grad Club’s Board of Directors, said the event was organized to voice the Society’s continued opposition to the preliminary designs and to inform their peers of the plans.

“There has already been a lot of opposition and it sounds like [the design team might change their plans] now,” he said. “However, we’re not going to let up because there’s still a plan there [to demolish The Grad Club], and when and if you show us a new plan that doesn’t include The Grad Club, then we’ll back off.”

Jill Daley, Law ’07 and VP Activities for the Law Students’ Society, said that the class was planning to hold a fundraising smoker off campus, but instead decided to use the event to help raise awareness about the Union Street Project and its impact on The Grad Club.

“I think there was a general lack of awareness within our student leaders and we wanted to spread the word,” Daley said.

At a public meeting on May 5, the Union Street Project team presented two preliminary design concepts for review. Both the proposals call for construction to occur at the northwest corner of Union and Barrie streets, where The Grad Club is located.

One design concept includes a gateway or marked entrance into campus, and the other concept calls for a traffic circle to be constructed at the intersection. Both of the current proposals require the demolition of all or part of The Grad Club.

The project is currently in the preliminary design and public consultation stage.

Virginia Clark, manager of The Grad Club and ArtSci ’94, said the event was independently organized by the Law Students’ Society and she didn’t even know it had anything to do with The Grad Club until a few days before.

“They took it upon themselves to have a party and start a petition,” Clark said. “I’m very touched, actually, that so many people are taking it upon themselves to make a statement. It’s very nice.”

A new design concept was to be presented by the committee for review along with a third public consultation meeting this fall, but the project is currently on hold pending a safety audit by Queen’s and the City of Kingston.

Clark said there has been no change or new developments since the preliminary design concepts were presented in May.

“They’re still waiting on a safety audit before they can do any revisions, so we’re in limbo,” she said. “We’re in the exact same spot we were in the summer, and until [the safety audit is completed] nobody knows what’ll happen.”

The new design concept and subsequent public meeting have been delayed until after the safety audit is completed, likely sometime in the spring.

According the Union Street Project’s website, the project is only funded as a streetscape planning study, and no plans for construction have yet been approved by the University.

“The City owns the street and the University owns the property, and neither entity has made any decision about the street in terms of design and no approval has been given,” said Jeanne Ma, director of the Union Street Project and Campus Planning and Development.

According to the project’s website, the purpose of the Union Street Project is “to provide a comprehensive and cohesive vision for Union Street and a conceptual framework to guide future capital and renovation projects along the street.”

Other goals of the project include integrating the main campus crossroads of Union Street and University Avenue into a cohesive image, improving conditions for pedestrians and cyclists and calming vehicular traffic.

Ma said all feedback she receives regarding the project is taken into consideration and forwarded to the design consultants, including the petition started by the Law Students’ Society.

The money raised from the $3 cover charge at Thursday night’s event was collected to support the class of Law ’07.

Ma is seeking input from interested members of the community. She can be reached at 533-6191 and majk@post.queensu.ca.

The Union Street Project website is queensu.ca/pps/unionstreet/html/index.html.

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