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Photos by Keila MacPherson

The entire stakeholder of  the Trent community – students, staff, faculty and alumni – was successfully engaged by a series of ‘stakeholder consultations’, an opportunity that allowed them to provide input on key attributes of the new student centre, despite the poor turn-out at the focus group sessions.

The consultations, which consisted of seven sessions for focus groups (five sessions of student focus group and two sessions for staff, faculty and alumni), fostered open conversations and discussion about the project. And, the online questionnaire explored the preferences and priorities for the Student Centre. Meanwhile, the mobile information booths set up in a range of high traffic areas across the campus provided information on the Student Centre, as well as established consultation with students, and other stakeholders.

“There were a handful of participants at each of the sessions, with very good and engaging conversations,” said the president of TCSA, Braden Freer, even though the attendance was not huge at the focus session. But the consultation seemed to be more convenient and advantageous through online survey, which had over 200 participants as of Thursday afternoon, January 29, informed Freer. Besides, the mobile information booth facilitated by the students was found to be very effective and saw maximum consultation.

One of the student participants at the focus group session shared her views on the minimal turnout at the actual workshops, by saying that upper year students are either busy with school or don’t care enough to go to one as they will have left by the time it is completed. On the other hand, first year students are not informed enough to be able to go to one and provide the necessary input, she added.

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The workshops were facilitated by the Educational Consulting Services Corp. project team. Planner of the student centre project team, Margot Thompson, said the goal of the ‘stakeholder consultations’ was to gather input from all the stakeholders, students, staff, faculty, and alumni to understand the preference and priorities of the attributes and elements  on the different aspects of the new student centre.

As informed by Thompson, after the completion of the consultations they will synthesize the views and inputs to compile a report putting forward the important themes and direction for the architectural team to start work by the end of February. The input gathered will help guide their work based on what the vision of the community is for the new student centre, says Thompson.

Views and inputs were gathered through a series of questions which opened discussion during the focus group sessions, while a questionnaire of similar context was made available online and at the information booth.

A brief background on the new student centre was presented and informed stakeholders about the location, which is between Bata Library and the Trent Community Sport and Recreation Centre. It is targeted to open in September 2017 to offer new places and opportunities for students to socialize, learn, study, and engage in life on campus.

Primary questions asked attempted to understand how the facility would provide the most effective functions, what the expected qualities and attributes of the new facility would be, and also what the stakeholders felt is right when planning and designing, such that it is in keeping with the vision of Trent.

Meanwhile, the views and inputs will be synthesized by the Educational Consulting Services Corp. led by team leader Brian Barron, and presented in a report to the TCSA and university in the weeks to come.