The Student Centre has been a dream for Trent students for almost as long as the TCSA has been incorporated. When I started in my role as President, my desk was full of a variety of Student Centre ‘dreams’ varying in scope from an extension for Champlain College, to a downtown ‘Nexis’, to the three-story standalone building we have ended up with. It is clear that a Student Centre was needed on campus long before the offices I am writing from were built.
During the design process, it was clear that the Student Centre was not meant to be ‘Bata 2.0’. There was a need on campus for a social space where students could escape the rigours of academics and spend their time relaxing, enjoying performances, and taking in the hustle and bustle of campus life. This is evident in the building’s design–large open spaces, glass windows, and a variety of multi-purpose spaces that could support a variety of student events. Know that the Student Centre was meant to have space for studying, but was never meant to be a study space. The building is (and should be) loud, crowded, and exciting.
While Bata’s closure and renovation were needed, it is unfortunate the effect this had on the Student Centre. The Student Centre’s purpose became blurred and its once great design became a hindrance to the quiet and cosy atmosphere students expected the Student Centre to recreate. When expectations of quiet are the standard for a building that, for the most part, lacks walls, I can understand the frustrations students might share. I think those of us in our upper years need to remember that prior to Bata’s reopening, all first and second years (nearly half of Trent’s population) did not know what it was like to have a library.
In the October 31 edition of the Arthur, an article was published with results from a survey that asked what students would like to see in the Student Centre. Things like ‘more tables and places to study’, ‘more quiet areas’, and ‘more walls (sections) to abate noise’ came up. I just wanted to take the time to share that all of these requests have since been granted — in our new and improved library. The TCSA currently has no plans to implement these changes in the Student Centre and in fact, it is our goal to continue to make the building more loud and lively. Conferences, speakers, formals, and vendors are going to have an increased presence in the Student Centre now that Bata is back, and we are excited to see our Student Centre finally be able to live up to its full potential.
While we are open to feedback about what can make the space better, we want to be critical of feedback that seeks to make the space ‘more like Bata’ as this is not the goal. Students approved a referendum to pay a levy for the construction and operation of a Student Centre, not a library. If more academic space is needed, we hope students will turn to our administration to continue to have our college and academic spaces (and potentially, new builds) accommodate these needs.