Trent undergrads looking to once again find a home in Traill College


Photo by Jenny Fisher

Interest has been circulating about whether Trent undergraduate students should be able to affiliate themselves with Catherine Parr Traill College (Traill College).

The current system sees the vast majority of undergrads associated with one of four campus colleges: Lady Eaton, Champlain, Otonabee, and Gzowski.

First year students in residence are affiliated with whichever college they’re assigned to live in. The remaining off-campus students (about 40% of first years) are given the opportunity to pick which college they feel suits them the best.

Traill College, situated in the downtown Peterborough core, used to be an off-campus option for first year undergraduate students up until 2007.

With rising enrolment of graduate students, Traill was converted into a graduate college; turning the dormitory residence rooms into graduate student offices and offering a different set of resources.

Traill has since evolved to focus on issues pertaining to older students, while the undergraduate colleges attempt to make the transition to university as smooth as it can be for first year students.

While these roles are both very important for the student body, there has recently been interest in the benefits of having undergraduate students able to choose Traill as their affiliated college.

Traill College principal Michael Eamon commented on some of these benefits.

“First of all, I think the location is great.  It’s close to all of the off-campus student housing, the London and George street areas for instance. Instead of having to run to Symons campus to use the computer lab, you can come right here.”

Eamon continued, “Second, we have [several] departments that have their classes down here and we can offer students the space to just hang out. There’s the common rooms, I’m looking to get wireless internet in the courtyard, the Trend is a wonderful place to go that is so much more than just a pub.  Sure, you can get booze there, but the point is getting people together to talk about ideas.  This is an integral part to student life.”

There are many undergraduate students at Trent that haven’t really had the opportunity to experience the collegiate lifestyle integral part of student life, as a large portion of students have never lived on Symons campus.

This is where it’s argued that Traill might have something to offer.

Traill currently sits outside of the restructured college system and it looks as though it will continue to be a bit different than the four colleges on Trent’s main campus.  These differences can be viewed as appealing to those who live off of Symons campus and don’t feel they fit within their assigned college.

The original collegiate system was designed to bring faculty and students of all ages together to create a diverse society.  Traill College, as well as the now-closed Peter Robinson College, was built downtown as a means to integrate this diverse society into the Peterborough community.

Being that a large majority of students currently live downtown, many have argued that there should still be student space in the downtown core. Some argue that there should definitely be a downtown college option for undergraduates.

But according to Nona Robinson, Associate Vice President in the Office of Student Affairs there are already some undergrads who are members of Traill. “Switching from one college to another is done by a simple request, as we want students to feel that their college is their home.

Recently there have been a small number of undergraduate students who have specifically requested switching to Traill and they have been accommodated, even though it’s not a formal option for undergraduates at this point.”

While there seems to be interest among certain students, faculty, and administration, there are still several questions that need addressomg before Traill can be formally offered as an undergraduate college.

One of the predominant questions is whether Traill should be offered to first year students, or whether it should be only offered to students  wishing to transfer.

Another consideration is whether this option should only be available for certain demographics, part-time or mature students for instance, who would seem to benefit the most from its downtown location.

Finally, there are questions about what the process would look like to open Traill to undergrads in the coming years.  Principal Michael Eamon, however, has clearly indicated he wants to make this happen.

Any decision in this regard would have to involve Traill faculty, staff, graduate students, and graduate faculty, as well as student leaders from the other undergraduate colleges, undergraduate students in general, and the administration.

And while the process is still unknown, the interest and motivation to be there.

Being that the process is still being determined, there is still lots of opportunity for input. According to Robinson, “If people have any ideas on what they would like to see at Traill, both Michael Eamon and I would love to hear them.”