STU ends lease at CBC, journalism students disappointed

    St. Thomas University journalism students, posing in front of the CBC signs for the journalism office. (Submitted: Pat Richard)

    St. Thomas University’s journalism students will not return to the classrooms at the CBC building, according to Jeffrey Carleton, STU’s associate vice president of communications. 

    Carleton said the university decided not to renew the lease with the CBC. The Aquinian requested a copy of the lease to see when it was last renewed, but officials from the university have not sent it. 

    “My understanding is that, during the COVID-19 pandemic period, STU made the effort to construct a lab on their campus and thus no longer required the off-campus space in our building,” wrote Duncan Blair, CBC New Brunswick’s senior manager, in an email to The Aquinian.

    Instead, the university decided to build an on-campus smart classroom, which would double as a journalism and communications lab, for September 2022, however the project got delayed.

    Philip Lee, a journalism professor at STU, said the idea of building the lab came alongside the digital literacy major and certificate as a space for students to work with audio and video equipment. 

    “We would create this new space … and we would maintain a partnership [with the CBC] through employment opportunities and internships,” he said. 

    Still, the university has yet to begin any work on the physical lab but has acquired some equipment, according to Carleton.  

    Carleton said the lab was not finished in time due to delays in materials and workers. 

    “Our plan is to do it as soon as we get it to install. [Installation is] currently planned to take place in December,” he said. “We plan to open this new centre early in the new year. Hopefully, by the time students return, but definitely early in this second semester in January.” 

    Lee said there needed to be more clarity between the university, the department, the faculty and the students. 

    “I think that the reason [for miscommunication] was because we didn’t have enough clarity ourselves about timelines and things like that,” he said. 

    Pierina Rivas, a fourth-year journalism student from Peru, said in her first year, she was looking forward to having classes at the CBC because of what upper-year students told her about it, but she never had the opportunity to take classes there.  

    “It was exciting because I really wanted to go to [the CBC’s building],” she said. “I still didn’t know if I wanted to work at CBC, but it was just the opportunity of being in an environment with … professionals already working there.”

    Rivas said she didn’t receive any notice about what happened to the university’s partnership with the CBC. 

    “We never got an actual email … saying ‘these are the reasons,'” said Rivas. “I guess it would be nice [getting an email] … like [the university] actually cares about all of us.”   

    Donald Dickson, a part-time journalism professor at STU, said he used to teach some of his classes at the CBC and had an office there. 

    “It was a really good location because you put the kids in a broadcasting environment,” he said. “It opens up the possibility for students to rub elbows with some of the people who were actually in the broadcasting business.”

    Dickson said he thought that classes would return to the CBC building when COVID-19 regulations loosened, but then he learned that wasn’t the case. 

    “I don’t recall getting a notice. I remember just learning [about it from] word-of-mouth in the department that the lease wasn’t being renewed,” he said. 

    Dickson now has an office in Holy Cross House but admits to missing his old one. 

    “I had pictures of kids who have been in class on the walls,” said Dickson. “I thought it was a nice way to maintain that personal connection.”