New lounge for off-campus students

OC representative Justin Brown wants to create a sense of community. (Cara Smith/AQ)

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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  • Show Comments (9)

  • H. R.

    I'm still a little confused about what exactly Mr. Brown did to make this happen. Why is he getting all the credit?

    • T.M

      Quote "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."

  • Eric Scott

    I’m excited! 🙂

  • Justim Brown

    Hey guys Justin Here, Id like to clarify that this lounge was always going to be made whether I was a part of that process of not, it just wasnt going to exist THIS YEAR, and would have been something made officail when a larger space opened up. I made sure that was not an option and that something went into place now. The lounge we have now will be changing significant amounts in the future, but because of my work we have something now to hold us over. I give total credit to others for understanding the need for this, the union and the staff made it possible, i made it happen this year.

  • L.B

    Had the Native Students not moved to another, bigger room, would this still even be considered, or obtained as easily?

    "Brown plans to have events that bring out different students, so that the lounge isn’t dominated by one group of friends."

    Good luck with that.

    • Justin Brown

      Hey LB. This space was made temporarily as the university explored larger more socailly acceptable options. Hold me accountable if you like, I will make sure to let you know everything as it develops. I have the students interests in mind here, so even though some may not like the idea of using the old natives students lounge, others may love the idea as a temporary solution to a problem that is still present. OC space is still an issue, just less of an issue now. lol I hope you feel open to checking things out once its up and running.

      • frankjrmolley

        Hi Justin, Frank here. What do you mean exactly when you say, "so even though some may not like the idea of using the old natives students lounge." As a solid member of that student body for the last four years I can tell you that room was open to everyone, native and non-native, our membership records show that. So I don't know who you're referring to and would ask that you retract your statement or at the very least back it up with some evidence to it. Because without it, you're comment sounds really hurtful and insulting. Seriously?

  • Ashley

    i cant wait!

  • Aaron

    Kudos to everyone who made this possible! I've always thought it was a shame that STU was one of the universities that never offered much to their off-campus students. Sure, sticker tag is fun. But off-campus like to socialize and party like everyone else, too. It's nice to see that people are making an effort to bring these students together and give them a place. I like that they're trying to offer off-campus students some of the things that resident students get like a space and pub crawls. It would be nice to see off-campus students hosting a few off-campus BYOB events for the off-campus group, as well.

    And as a response to the snarky person criticizing Justin Brown: Give him some credit. He's a student and is making an effort to get involved. Whether it be a small or large role he played in the events, he's contributing to making the off-campus group a community. Unless you have made an effort to do so, I suggest you keep your remarks to yourself because he is making a bigger difference than you are.

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