Will Queen’s history be lost?

Historical buildings may be lost in the construction of the Queen’s Centre, but ‘the past should be modified to fit the future and the University’s character can change for the better’

Celine Song, ArtSci ’10
Celine Song, ArtSci ’10

The Queen’s Centre, which will replace the JDUC, PEC, Jock Harty Arena and the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies by 2014, will hopefully be a better place for students, staff and faculty.

It promises to have lounges, increased club space, student entertainment facilities, a brand new arena, a swimming pool, dance studios, a climbing wall, new locker rooms, and athletic therapy areas—all with wireless Internet at every corner.

As much as the University’s traditional limestone buildings have unique and historical charm, they are starting to show their wear and tear. The JDUC, the one and only student centre of Queen’s, was built in 1949, renovated once in the 1960s and again in the ’70s, and hasn’t been touched since.

The PEC and Jock Harty Arena were built in 1970 and currently serve as the only designated buildings on campus for indoor sporting events, student fitness and health.

If we were to walk in these familiar places and look objectively at their aging appearance, we can’t help but notice that these buildings deserve a retirement.

However, the biggest problem with the JDUC is not its age, but the very limited space it can provide to meet the demands of the student body.

JDUC director Bob Burge said in an interview with the Journal, “There is simply no space for people to do activities that they want to do or even just a space to read.” There are approximately 20,000 students studying in Queen’s University, and the number is growing. Moreover, the JDUC, PEC and Jock Harty Arena are not just for students—they are frequented by the staff and faculty as well.

Currently, these buildings can’t accommodate the expanding population. The rooms in the JDUC are booked solid almost every night because there aren’t enough rooms for more than 300 clubs, teams and student groups to meet, practice or rehearse. Anne Browne, associate vice-principal (facilities), said in an interview with the Journal that students who will be studying at Queen’s during the large-scale construction project will not be affected in any inconvenient way. The project is to be phased so that the new student centre is built before the JDUC is torn down, and the new gymnasium is built before Jock Harty or the PEC is torn down.

Also, favourite campus places like the Common Ground or the Queen’s Pub will be kept.

There will be dust, of course, and studying at the library will be noisier than usual, but most of the construction will be carried out during the summer months. On March 2, Principal Hitchcock, clad in a construction helmet, officially broke the ground at the Queen’s Groundbreaking Ceremony behind Jock Harty. This marked the beginning of the project, which will be finished in 2014.

The problem, however, is that some upper-year students who were part of the decision to build the Queen’s Centre generally do not care much for the project, because they will not be able to enjoy its benefits. Students in lower years, who may benefit from the new facilities don’t share a comprehensive knowledge of the project because they have just begun their studies at Queen’s.

Because it is often in our instincts as students to be dissatisfied with everything that the University does with our money, everyone complains about paying a $71 mandatory fee to the AMS for the Queen’s Centre. In my opinion, the loss of history and the character of Queen’s buildings is also something worth mentioning. Perhaps the names of historically significant people like John Deutsch and Jock Harty will also be forgotten. Alumni who come back for Homecoming in future years might not see Queen’s as the same place without the JDUC—a building that has so much character.

Regardless, the past should be modified to fit the future and the University’s character can change for the better with the construction of the Queen’s Centre. The destruction of the buildings between Union and Division streets represents the obliteration of the tradition, but it is a necessary one for the sake of progress.

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.