One of the important things that student groups need on campus is space. Students need space for their events and activities; some student groups at Concordia have to double up in order to have a room at the Sir George Williams campus. Until the new buildings are built on both the Loyola and at the Sir George Williams campuses, space for student groups will be limited and the student population of Concordia that is projected to grow for a number of years does not help this situation.
When student groups ask for space, they generally request space at the downtown campus, and by far one of the spaces that students pass frequently is the Mezzanine in the Hall Building. This space is used by student groups and associations on campus for big activities such as orientation, recruitment drives, career fairs and cultural displays.
There is some controversy surrounding the Mezzanine and whether there will be a cafeteria built there by Chartwells, the new food provider at Concordia. At the moment everything is staying put and the Mezzanine will remain a student space for at least one year.
The administration should not under any circumstances let the Mezzanine be built into a food court. It makes no sense to build a food court in student space, when there is so much of it lacking at the downtown campus and there is already cafeteria facilities installed on the seventh floor.
Not only is the Mezzanine a spacious place for student groups, it also allows for the most amount of exposure on campus. This may be why Chartwells would want the Mezzanine for a new a cafeteria and the traffic would generate more business. Students groups would lose out if they had events on the seventh floor, as not many people venture up there.
The administration should not consider the idea of turning the Mezzanine into a cafeteria, even if only part of it would be used. That simply does not make sense, since students do not have a viable alternative other than the space on the mezzanine. The seventh floor is much too small a space and would need extensive renovations to be turned into a student space. Right now the Mezzanine houses Reggie’s, Java U, the job and housing bank and Travel Cuts, with the rest being space that can be booked.
One suggestion that the CSU is bandying about to guarantee that student space remains available to students is that of a trusteeship between the CSU and Dean of Students Office. This is a realistic solution, since the relationship between the administration and CSU is better than it was last year. Also, a trusteeship will ensure that the space is used appropriately, since both sides will have a say in how the space is used. This is especially necessary, since the CSU found out about the plans of the Mezzanine through an administrator’s slip up.
Another thing the administration should avoid is the way it goes about informing students about potential changes that affect students directly. Instead of negotiating behind their backs, the administration should be upfront about such a major decision and consult students. Since space is premium at Concordia, the administration should leave the cafeteria on the seventh floor of the Hall Building or build a new one in the Library Building.