With all the criticism Arthur has published on the changes to the college system lately, I’m confused as to why students aren’t more excited about the PR Community and Student Association’s (PRCSA) plans to buy back the old Peter Robinson College properties.

It seems to me if this endeavour is successful it will create the possibility of an unofficial sixth college, and one that’s run a lot like how they used to be run.

For those who are unaware, the PRCSA is partnering with the Peterborough Student Co-op and attempting to raise enough money to buy back the townhouses close to George and Parkhill, as well as “the Cottage” and Reade House—the two buildings between the townhouses and Sadleir House. These buildings were all a part of the former Peter Robinson College before it was closed in 2001.

They’re working on raising $1,000,000 over the next five years—$200,000 a year—in order to do it.

It’s not yet possible to discuss specifically how much support the project has seen, but it has definitely been well received by alumni.

What makes this plan so interesting to me is that it nicely compliments the services that Sadleir House already provides and facilitates.

More student groups are based out of Sadleir House than any other building, on- or off-campus. The building also features common areas and study space, as well as bookable rooms for all student and community groups. It’s even got it’s own pub!

To connect this student and community centre directly with student housing would create a sort of student village in the downtown. It would basically be a downtown college.

It would be decentralized from the university proper, but centralized around a separate body that both provides and facilitates programming and services.

Services, events, clubs and groups, student space, and residence could be merged once again in a way that they simply haven’t been for years at Trent.

With each passing year, and with each ousted student group, Trent’s colleges are looking more and more like every other university’s residences.

That’s hardly surprising given that Trent’s administration has more or less assumed total control over them. It’s not clear to me that a whole lot of Trent’s decision-makers really have an idea of or a respect for what colleges should be about. If they do, they certainly don’t mind forgetting about it for a little while as they implement unimaginative changes meant to make college life More Consistent and Efficient.

Colleges should be autonomous, they should integrate all aspects of student life, and they should be academic bodies.

The two former aspects will definitely be there if the PRCSA buys the townhouses. The only thing that’s missing from the picture is the academic piece.

Though it is conceivable that some faculty might take out office space there, not being tied to Trent organizationally directly hinders that aspect. Perhaps it’s the only drawback of being autonomous from Trent’s administration.

That said, if there was a way to get around Risk Management, and provided it was something Sadleir House was interested in, I’m sure that once again having classes at PR would be generally attractive to the university. I have no doubt professors, especially those who were once a part of PR, would be interested in teaching classes there once again.

We talk a lot about student space issues, but let’s not forget that there are academic space issues at Trent as well. A free or low-cost solution to that problem would be hard to pass up for any administration that’s as tight on money as ours is.

I think the PR townhouse buy back will address some clear needs at Trent. So let’s get excited about it!