Print Edition: January 21, 2015
Four months before the projected opening of the Student Union Building (SUB) in Abbotsford, Student Union Society (SUS) held an open info session for students. The event — the first of its kind since construction began in September 2013 — took place on a Tuesday night in AfterMath. About two dozen students were in attendance, many of them from student groups, which have a keen interest in how the space will change the way events are held on campus.
VP internal Thomas Davies, who provided an overview and fielded questions, emphasized that many of the specific rules and organizational policies for the SUB are not yet finalized. However, floorplans were made available to browse, and a main goal was articulated: a centralized meeting and event space for an often-dispersed student body.
“The kind of feel we have around UFV is very institutional; it’s very structured,” Davies said. “It’s going to be different in the SUB, and it’s going to be much more inviting, and it’s going to be a place where you’re going to want to go and spend your free time.”
The building’s design, visible in stages to Abbotsford students walking past the gym and D building, and with a near-complete exterior since the beginning of the winter semester, will be familiar to those who have seen the wood-panelled walls of UFV’s CEP campus or Chilliwack Secondary. The same goes for many of the building’s services and occupants that will be moving in, opening up spaces throughout the rest of campus: AfterMath, the food bank, offices for SUS and student media and, as part of the university’s partial funding of the building, the Career Centre, Academic Advising, and Student Life.
Questions from students, then, mainly concerned the brand new pieces of the SUB and what will happen to already existing student spaces throughout the rest of campus.
A coffee shop, like AfterMath, will be operated by SUS independently of Sodexo and the university, and will attempt to tailor its offerings to student requests; Davies mentioned free-trade options were being explored.
The current plan for the new club and association rooms, which was met with some debate, is to grant eight groups space in the SUB, with the selection of these student groups up for annual review. The selection would be up to a committee, but the point was raised by one student that moving in and out of the SUB could become a privilege that separates the ability of groups to attract members, hold events, and advertise. As well, through either a student group or a university department, there are spaces for math, computer science, business, and psychology students elsewhere on campus, as well as more general humanities and science study areas. How these would work in tandem — or not — was, like the entire plan, said to be not yet absolutely set.
Of the services set to move, Student Life raised the most interest at the event. As it currently operates out of U-House, the future of that building as a student lounge area is yet to be determined. “What happens to U-House is unknown,” Davies said.
As well, while the possible sale of naming rights was explored by a prior SUS board in 2012, Davies said it will simply be the Student Union Building when it opens in May. As a comparatively small number of students attend classes at that time and through the rest of the summer, the SUB’s full launch as a congregating area and potential origin of student activity will not be seen until the start of Fall 2015.