New space opens for graduate students on campus

Helen Howard Graduate Students Reading Room opens in Stauffer

The Helen Howard Graduate Students Reading Room opened in Stauffer library.
This December, the SGPS and Stauffer Library celebrated the opening of the Helen Howard Graduate Students Reading Room. 
On the third floor of Stauffer Library, the Helen Howard Reading Room is a success for the SGPS, which was concerned over the need for grad student specific spaces on campus. The new space holds two breakout rooms equipped with televisions, and a lounge area in the front. To enter, grad students receive an email with an access code for the keypad on the door, leaving the space free for their use only.
The study space was made possible through funds provided by Dr. Helen Howard. Once funding became available, the SGPS and library staff took over the task of designing a more welcoming, community-oriented space.
SGPS President Tyler Morrison credited Martha Whitehead, vice-provost (digital planning) and university librarian, and former SGPS President Adam Grotsky (2017-18), for their dedication and determination in seeing the project through to completion.
“The big focus on the space was a collaborative working space,” Morrison said in an interview with The Journal. 
During the design phase, the leaders of this project deferred to Queen’s graduate students to accommodate the needs and concerns they identified through their study experiences. The space was designed with a focus on fostering a stronger graduate community between departments.
“Sometimes the graduate experience can be an afterthought,” Morrison said, “[The Helen Howard Reading Room] shows grad students that they’re part of the fabric 
of Queen’s.”
Concerns about the graduate student experience isn’t new, and isolation among graduate students has been considered by the SGPS for some time. 
In a survey completed in October three out of 10 grad students reported their graduate experience was lacking. Some of the concerns cited were mental health workshops, community engagement opportunities, and increased funding for professional research. 
The push for more graduate spaces continues in the upcoming winter referendum on the redevelopment of the JDUC, Morrison said. The building is an extension of graduate life on campus. 
During the 2017-18 referendum, while undergraduate students voted against the redevelopment, graduate students supported the motion. 
“The focus would be on passing the JDUC Referendum,” Morrison said, “to make [more graduate space] happen.”
“These spaces are more than just tables and chairs.  We need to keep the momentum going […] and continue to find other ways to foster community and create engagement.”

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