Community outreach centre unveiled in Ghetto

Facility to act as a ‘home away from home’ for students

Principal Karen Hitchcock, Deputy Mayor Mark Gerretsen and Megan Krause, ArtSci ’08, cut the ribbon at the new community outreach centre.
Principal Karen Hitchcock, Deputy Mayor Mark Gerretsen and Megan Krause, ArtSci ’08, cut the ribbon at the new community outreach centre.
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Students living on Aberdeen Street welcomed a new neighbour yesterday as Queen’s unveiled its new community outreach centre—the first of its kind in Canada, Jason Laker, dean of student affairs, said.

The centre, located at 11 Aberdeen St., was Laker’s brainchild and is mandated to “offer increased opportunities for student involvement, broader awareness of Queen’s University services and offers greater connections between the Queen’s community and the local Kingston and area communities.” Community outreach co-ordinator Marija Linjacki said she hopes the centre will be a useful resource for students.

“I truly hope that this complements the student experience here at Queen’s and I hope that it fills the gaps between their academic responsibilities and student life.”

Queen’s bought the house from the Lee family, the last remaining non-student residents on Aberdeen Street, for $400,000 earlier this year.

The centre has a lounge complete with a T.V. and DVD player, and there are plans to offer documentary film screenings once a week. Other services include a full service kitchen and a space for workshops and guest speakers.

There’s also an art studio as well as group study facilities.

Linjacki said she thinks the centre’s proximity to campus will be a major draw for students.

“It’s close enough to campus; however it is in a more intimate and personable off-campus setting.”

Principal Karen Hitchcock said she thinks the facility will help bridge the gap between students and residents.

“This is another step. The whole issue is that we are a part of this community. This is a real opportunity to show that Queen’s and Kingston are inextricably bound and we share common goals.”

Hitchcock said she also hopes it will bring together students living in the ghetto.

“This facility will give support to those students living off campus so they can come together and share experiences and gather in this home away from home.”

Laker stressed that the creation of this facility is more than an effort to curb destructive behaviour.

“Everyone seems to concentrate everyday to the things that happen on one day. You don’t spend $400,000 on a house and $200,000 on renovations to stop a street party. You do it to give students a place to meet.” The outreach centre will be closed on Homecoming weekend.

Deputy Mayor Mark Gerretsen, said he doesn’t think the centre will solve all the problems surrounding Homecoming, but it’s a step in the right direction.

“I guess it’s over-optimistic to feel that this will cure the problem immediately … I am optimistic that this facility, coupled with others of a similar type, will help improve town-gown relations.”

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The centre will be officially open for business on Tuesday, Sept. 25. The hours for its first week in operation are from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. until Thursday, Sept. 27. Regular hours will take effect Oct. 1. They are Sunday to Thursday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. For more information on the centre, call 613-533-3328 or visit queensu.ca/communityoutreachcentre

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