Common space to increase in 2015

Opening of new residences could offset proposed uptick in student enrolment

The two new residences will reportedly be able to accommodate 550 students.
The two new residences will reportedly be able to accommodate 550 students.
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The class of 2018 will find themselves with less space in residence than future first-year students.

Next year, 15 common rooms will be restored and an additional 18 created as a result of the construction of new residences on campus, according to Philip Lloyd, AMS vice-president of university affairs.

Two new residences, one on Leonard Field and the other at the corner of Albert and Stuart Streets, are on schedule to be completed by fall 2015. Once complete, they’ll create 550 new residence spaces.

The University first began to convert common rooms into residence rooms in 2008, following a surge in enrolment and a lack of available residence space.

Plans for common room restoration come as Senate approved the 2014-15 and 2015-16 enrolment targets in April.

The targets show a planned increase in the number of undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at the University, from 21,441 this fall, to 22,199 in 2015 to a projection of 23,002 in 2016.

As enrolment at Queen’s has grown and residences have hit capacity, Lloyd said, common rooms were converted into bedrooms in existing residences.

“The [new] residences are the opportunity to help alleviate some of the pressures that have come from increased enrolment,” said Lloyd, ConEd ’13.

The target enrolment figures project an additional 758 students on campus from 2014 to 2015, and 803 new students between 2015 and 2016.

465 more first-year students and are projected to begin their studies at Queen’s for the 2015-16 academic year, bringing the total first-year enrolment to 4,482.

According to Lloyd, the new residences will have the capacity to house the additional students, because the enrolment figures include new upper-year students. Not all first-year students choose to live in residence, he added.

An additional 171 upper-year students will transfer to the University, bringing the total to 233 additional upper-year students by the 2015-16 academic year.

The remaining enrolment projections will covers students advancing through the University, Lloyd said.

Common spaces benefit students’ experience in residence, Lloyd said. If the common rooms are restored, the class of 2018 will be the final first-year class to live in residence with a reduction in common space.

Rooms in the two new residences will resemble the floor plan of Leggett Hall and Watts Hall, with one shared washroom for every two rooms. The larger of the new buildings will house a food service similar in size to the Lazy Scholar in Victoria Hall.

Lloyd said the AMS is trying to work with the administration to ensure increased enrolment doesn’t negatively affect areas of student life, including resources allocated to Health, Counselling and Disability Services and accessibility to professors and Career Services.

“[The AMS will] ensure that initial plans and the conversations that were had last year, and concerns that were raised, are actually addressed,” he said.

Bruce Griffiths, executive director of Housing and Ancillary Services at Queen’s, said the residences are being constructed to accommodate increased enrolment and to take pressure off older residences.

“We wanted another food service, as well. We wanted more air-conditioned residences we could sell in the summer,” he said. “So I think there was four or five good reasons that we had that all worked in tandem in building the new buildings.”

City Council approved the construction of the two residences last September. Griffiths said Housing and Hospitality Services held a focus group in March 2012 with residents of Leggett and Watts Halls to gather feedback on the design of those existing residences.

“We made adjustments based on user feedback,” he said.

Nathan Utioh, president of the Residence Society, said common spaces are beneficial to life in residence.

Learning Commons and peer health educators wouldn’t be able to talk to groups of students in residence without these spaces, he added, while dons would struggle to provide alternative programming for their students.

“That in itself is a negative for students,” said Utioh, ArtSci ’15.

“The perfect picture is to have common rooms on all floors and all buildings.”

With files from Sebastian Leck and Sean Sutherland

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