Grad student search for space continues
By David Shield
For the past four decades, the University of Saskatchewan Graduate Students Association (GSA) has been searching for more spacious accommodations, but with no success. Now, however, President Jonathan Anuik is hopeful a solution to the association’s cramped quarters is just around the corner.
Currently located in the Memorial Union Building, the GSA says it needs more space for everything from a computer lab to larger executive offices, a thesis defense room and a graduate students’ lounge. With two potential options in front of them – the former College of Emmanuel and St. Chad buildings, and a proposed multi-purpose south campus centre to be located between Marquis Hall and the library – Anuik says things are finally looking up for the University’s grad students, but moving into Place Riel is not being considered.
“The current space in Place Riel isn’t very conducive to graduate students. Many graduate students will tell you they don’t even pass through Place Riel in the course of a week. They go straight to their office, so it’s very important that graduate students have a place they can go to and socialize with other graduate students and faculty.”
Anuik says he plans to tour the Emmanuel and St. Chad buildings in the next few weeks. He thinks the former college’s chapel and residence could make a good interim location for the GSA, but he is cautious about putting significant resources into renovating the aging buildings.
“We’ve got two very good options, but we need to figure out if it’s worth moving in the interim and possibly spending a lot of money, or if it’s better to sit and wait for another four or five years,” he says.
Still in the planning stages, the proposed south campus centre has many potential tenants including the USSU, a student health and wellness centre, and space for the GSA. However, Anuik is concerned the lack of concrete plans for the centre leaves many unknown variables in its wake.
“(For the GSA), the benefits are that you have a lot of leadership from the university, you have the university’s support and the university’s buildings, but the drawbacks are that you work on their timeframe. This is their project, and if they want to delay or stop it, they have the right to,” says Anuik.
Over the years, the GSA has seen many potential new sites scuttled for various reasons, the largest being a proposed 370-bed synchrotron researcher/grad student residence and office space facility. That plan was abandoned in 2002.
He went on to say improved space for graduate students is important, especially if the U of S wants to attract more graduate-level researchers. He says other universities like McGill have put considerable resources into space for their graduate students, and that it is important for grad students to have a place to talk with each other.
“Graduate school can be a very isolating experience because you work so individually, you work separately on individual projects and construct a program of work from two up to five years. There needs to be a space where you can interact.”
David Shield is a Saskatoon freelance writer