Editorial: Let’s hope students can appreciate, and take care of, history

The Grey Nuns residence is now officially open to students

On Sept. 15, the Grey Nuns residence, Concordia’s newest—yet oldest—building, had its grand opening.

This historical building, which dates back to the 18th century, was originally built as a convent for the Grey Nuns, a religious order founded by Marguerite D’Youville. Concordia University purchased the building back in 2007, and was able to renovate it in order to transform it into a student residence with over 600 dorms and 200 study spaces that the entire university, not just students living there, can use. The building’s beautiful chapel, for example, was converted into study spaces, with high tech tables that have electric outlets.

Concordia, with the help of Quebec’s Ministry of Culture and Communications, did a wonderful job when renovating the building. Renovations cost $15 million. The building was modernized, but still has its original charm—from the moldings to the pews to the beautiful art. The chapel is by far the pièce de résistance, and is reminiscent of an oxford style library. (It is also a little similar to the Dawson College library, located in the former mother house of the Congregation of Notre-Dame.) Modern touches, like brightly coloured ceilings, make the building more youthful.

This project is simply wonderful for students. The building has great amenities, like a self-serve kitchen where students can cook for themselves, rooms with sinks, a huge cafeteria and amazing lounge areas which are equipped with pool tables and flat screen TVs.

There is no denying that students will have a great time in this building. Actually, maybe too great of a time. After all, this is a historical building that should be preserved. Now freshly painted and cleaned, the building is spotless. But will it stay in this state for the long term? Students, especially those living in residence, do not have the best reputation when it comes to taking care of their surroundings, whether that be bars, restaurants or their dorms. They like to party, and controlling that will not be easy.

The study spaces in the building are not at risk here. But what about the rest of the building, especially the lounges and dorm rooms?

There is also the matter of the crypt in the basement, where many sisters are buried. This part of the building is closed off to the public, but students should still remember its presence and respect the sisters that rest there.

The Grey Nuns residence is a beautiful, historical building, and having a dorm in the downtown area was a much-needed investment for the university.  Let’s just hope that the students living there appreciate the historical significance of their new home, and try not to hinder its preservation.

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