The recent undergraduate student consultation on the Traill College Review held last week with the external reviewer of Traill, Prof. Christopher Tindale, saw important perspectives being put forward.
Despite the student turn out being questionable (with less ten students in attendance), the outcome from the discussion was substantial.
“We will have to talk about the kind of life undergraduates will have, or the degree to which it will be comparable to what they have on the Symons campus,” Tindale opened.
He said it is an important conversation if one of the subsequent outcomes of the review, and consequential decision in Traill having place at Trent, is to see more undergraduates.
One student representative from the Champlain College cabinet said Traill is quite unique from other colleges, but has a very strong collegiate spirit.
It was suggested that it should be offered up to mature, transfer and part-time students. It is important for them to have a place where they can come together.
Champlain College Senate pointed out that those identified students do not get the required degree of college life experience within the four Symons campus colleges, and having a specific college they can identify with is necessary. Traill has the potential to cater to that need.
Tindale agreed that college heads had made a similar point from his earlier meeting with them, and will ensure to take the recommendation seriously.
He built upon the discussion by commenting that even though the undergraduates like the model of the Symons campus colleges, it is not the model for every student.
Tindale said it is appropriate to think about what kinds of students will be best served in what environment.
He put forward the possibilities to re-imagine Traill as an environment which allows certain kinds of students to flourish, those who might have gotten lost because they didn’t feel connected to the rest of the student body.
During the consultation, discussion on deferred maintenance of Traill College was brought up.
In response, Tindale said that all colleges have deferred maintenance, and it is just a question of priority.
It was pointed out that lots of money through the trust fund was invested in Traill, namely-renovation of Scott House and Kerr House, while Bagnini hall is the newest building of the university.
Traill College is also home to Canadian studies and the Frost Centre, and as such, has certainly brought the college back up to code, except for Wallis Hall, which needs some work said Tindale, while there are other colleges in much worse shape.
One of the most thoroughly discussed subjects during the session was for Traill to gain some sort of undergraduate constituency.
For instance, students living in the Annex are currently disjointed from the main campus, so the should be allowed to be affiliated with Traill, suggested the students.
As mentioned earlier they reiterated that Traill be offered up to mature students to ease the inconvenience of driving from out of city, or the need to find a place to stay.
Expanding it to undergraduates will allow more interaction with the graduate students beyond their role as a teacher or a teaching assistant.
The students expressed that it will help break the barrier between the two, foster more discussion and increase academic conversation, which is essential to Trent to develop more graduate students.
Important discussion that came to light was that “Traill is crucial to retention of prospective graduate students.”
It was discussed that the change of pace, space and difference in environment Traill offers is what most undergraduates take into consideration while looking to continue as a graduate student at Trent.
It was also brought to attention that it is easier for those living downtown to be able to access resources and open space. For example, a student from a drama class shared about the great spaces Traill has to offer for them to work with, that allows them the kind of movement and freedom that they need, as opposed to the minimal space on the main campus.
Traill eases the space congestion problem on campus, not to mention the availability of its own computer lab and seminar room.
This doesn’t require students to go all the way to campus to maybe get a room when they can use one right at Traill.
“Having that downtown space is so effective as long as we are able to use it,” stated one student.
Although the big downside right now is that not enough people are using the space, mostly because of it being branded as graduate college. It is assumed that it is not a place for undergraduates unless one is in programs such as English, cultural studies or Canadian history, it was said.
On the other hand, it was also noted that depending in the year and study program, there are some who never have classes at the Symons campus.
“Then what do you do with those classes that don’t have to fit on the time slots they need, to fit on the main campus,” questioned the student. “Then it becomes a whole other issue.”
Traill College gets students into Peterborough and interacting with the Peterborough community, another huge thing about going to a university.
As a student they are not just living on campus, but are also living in that town and are a huge part of that town. So by strengthening Traill as a hub for undergraduates, by default Trent is also strengthening the connection with Peterborough as a whole, said the student representatives.
“Connection with the community is something we have been starting to lose over the years, not only does the Peterborough economy miss out, it is something that the students loses out on as well,” lamented the students.
“We are slowly pulling ourselves out of the community and it is not beneficial or positive to Trent.”
They stated Traill stands to be the lone driver to keep the connection between Symons campus and downtown, and with the community still alive.
Earlier that day, Tindale also met with different groups from community to discuss the Traill Review.
Tindale told Arthur that there were 18 attendees in total, which according to him is a great turn out for an early morning meeting at 8 a.m.
The meeting saw a mixture of interesting suggestions and ideas on a common ground of exploring different ways to foster the connection between Traill with different community groups, said Tindale.
“They were supporting a range of options, it was very informative and useful,” he described of the discussion that proceeded.
He was glad to realize the enthusiasm the community members have for Traill and Trent in general, and how the city councillors present considered Traill of great important to their constituencies.
“Each constituency has a different read and bring in different ideas to this study of Traill College, even though you are not going to be able to reconcile everything.
But looking at the common threads is what is more important,” said Tindale regarding his consultation with various constituencies associated with Trent.