It’s been years in the making, but off-campus students finally have a home away from home. Justin Brown, the off-campus representative, recently announced that off-campus students will soon have a lounge in James Dunn Hall.
It will be where the Native students’ lounge used to be, across from the help desk. They moved into a larger room upstairs, last week.
Brown says this is a big step for off-campus students and the university. Off-campus students make up almost 72 per cent of St. Thomas University’s population, yet they have never had a home base on campus.
“There really just needs to be a space for students to come and accumulate. Off-campus doesn’t really have any place to call their own, other than the cafeteria or JDH caf. And even then it’s not even considered theirs,” Brown said.
Finding a lounge for the off-campus community was Brown’s number one goal, when he was elected last May. He says he was surprised at how easy it was to get a space, because it only took a few weeks.
Right now the walls are bare, and aside from scattered furniture, the room is empty. But Brown expects the space will be ready to be used by the end of the month.
“It’s just a way for the university and the union to reach out to the students and give them something. Create this sense of community, that has been missing.”
Vanier Hall and Harrington Hall both received new lounges this fall, so Brown says it’s fair for off-campus students to have one too. The first big event he wants to hold is the off-campus pub crawl, and then smaller weekly events, like movie nights
“I want this to be a place that people come in, hang out, and go off and do other things. It’s more of a pit stop for off-campus students, for when they’re between classes, so that they don’t have to go home.”
Brown worked closely with the Student’s Union and Nancy O’Shea, the director of student life and retention, to make the lounge a possibility. Right now Brown is responsible for the space.
Jeffrey Carleton, communications director at STU, says complete details will be ironed out this week.
He’s looking forward to seeing the lounge well-used by the off-campus students, and eventually moving to a bigger space.
“The more people we have in here, the more it looks like we actually need the space,” Brown said.
Brown plans to have events that bring out different students, so that the lounge isn’t dominated by one group of friends. He’s also not putting computers in the lounge, because he wants it to be a welcome space, not somewhere for people to sit at the computer for hours.
“I want to be the guy that just fosters a healthy environment. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do as an off-campus rep. I just want to create a community. That’s it.”
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