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MacKinnon Project: Increasing Student Study Space

Friday, September 20, 2013

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  • Jessica Adams (left) and Colin Morris (right)

    Jessica Adams (left) and Colin Morris (right)

  • Updated furniture in the MacKinnon lobby

    Updated furniture in the MacKinnon lobby

  • Condensing study space and updated furniture in the MacKinnon building

    Condensing study space and updated furniture in the MacKinnon building

  • Plaques installed in recognition of supporters and collaborators of the project

    Plaques installed in recognition of supporters and collaborators of the project

  • Plaques installed in recognition of supporters and collaborators of the project

    Plaques installed in recognition of supporters and collaborators of the project

Written by Alice Lin

The Mackinnon building has not been the usual go-to study space on campus for many students since its use is primarily for offices, seminars and lectures. Although, there were some out-dated tables and empty classrooms available, there simply just wasn’t enough nor was it worth the time to have to roam through the entire building to find a study space for two.

Changes have taken place over the past couple of years, predominantly by the university administration and the Central Student Association, to try and accommodate this issue. Couches that once existed and often used for a quick nap in the lounge beside the dental office, were eventually replaced with tables. Desks were also added this past year and packed to the airport lounge located above the post office. Additionally, Peter Clark Hall has also been made available and will open as extra study space during exam time.

The McLaughlin Library also launched a ‘Master Space Plan’ in October of 2012 where the working groups are considering a number of things including expansion and 24 hour operation. While the plan has been receiving a lot of excitement and positive response from students, it is not anticipated to complete any time soon.

Indeed, the concern with the lack of study space has been relevant for quite some time now and is growing to be more pressing as the student membership of the university continues to increase. Moreover, expanding student study space is more than a matter of adding a few old recycled tables and chairs in vacant/unused areas on campus. Indeed, factors such as accessibility need to be taken into consideration as well.

Two undergraduate student leaders took the matter in their own hands last year. Together they lead the ‘MacKinnon Furniture Project 2013’ where they attempted to revive the MacKinnon lobby into more than just a glorified 70s pathway to classes.

Colin Morris, who is the President of the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences Student alliance currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Governance, and Jessica Adams, the President of the College of Arts Student Union currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts and Science degree in Geography and Biology¾both worked in collaboration and successfully added over 40 individual study spaces to various under-utilized open areas of MacKinnon.

The two student leaders together rose upwards of $35000 in funding from the College of Arts, College of Social and Applied Human Sciences, College of Management and Economics, the Office of the Provost and the Vice-President of Academics. Two accessible tables were also donated by the Central Student Association to the project.

The main reason why Mackinnon was chosen because it is “…a central hub” said Morris. “Students across all colleges at the university use and access this building.” Old desks, broken chairs, and mouldy couches were subsequently replaced with new ones to “…create a more inviting and encouraging setting for students to study” Adams explained.

The project completed in early September this year, with the final plaques installed on the first floor of the building in recognition of the support from each of the different organizations. “It was a challenge to try to get in touch with the right people” said Morris and Adams, “but everybody was incredibly supportive of us in this project and saw the need for more student space on campus, especially in MacKinnon.”

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