By: Elliot Fung
In March 2017, students voted in a special referendum in favour of of the creation of the new Student Activity Building and expanded Pulse. Years of student surveys, focus groups and planning seem to be finally paying off as construction for the new 40,000 square foot Student Activity Building and expanded Pulse begins this fall.
The McMaster Students Union SAB space allocation ad-hoc committee was struck at a Student Representative Assembly meeting last April and serves to consult students about their ideas and priorities regarding space allocation in the new building and ensure that the ways in which space and student fees are used align with students’ interests.
SAB student consultation surveys in the past have largely focused on space allocation and what services students want in a building dedicated to them. Some recommendations for the SAB consisted of study spaces, nap rooms, lounge space, a cafe and food court, a multifaith prayer space and a grocery store.
The 2017 SAB space allocation ad-hoc committee survey garnered 426 responses. Nevertheless, with a student body of approximately 27,000, the responses represent the opinions of only 1.6 per cent of the undergraduate student population in 2017.
This September, the MSU spearheaded a final campaign to consult students about more specific design preferences for the new SAB. The final survey asked students what they want the interior of the SAB to look like.
The final report from this year’s SAB committee highlights that within the four weeks of the survey being open, the total complete responses tallied to 945. While the committee report boasts a 105 per cent increase in undergraduate student responses as compared to last year’s poor showing, 945 still represents only approximately 3.5 per cent of the undergrad student body.
Nevertheless, promotion of the survey on social media and in-person reached many students.
In particular, the SAB committee reports that the promotional Facebook video reached 5,000 unique viewers and approximately 1,200 students received information cards at McMaster Homecoming Expo.
This year, the committee suggests a number of interior design elements based on the majority results of the online survey. Some of the suggestions include removable cushions on the first-floor open steps, tables in the third-floor meeting room with a dynamic design in addition to a clear glass writable surface, hanging greenery, a light colour palette for the interior aesthetic and both reclining and straight nap chairs for the designated nap room.
The 2018 survey also included a portion asking about potential names for the Student Activity Building. Approximately nine per cent of responses suggested keeping the current name. Other names suggested included variations of “Student Activity Building,” such as “McMaster Student Activity Building” or naming the building after a McMaster alum with significant achievements such as Roberta Bondar or Donna Strickland Building.
Other less serious and comical names were suggested, including “MUSC 2.0,” “Marauder’s Nest,” “Chill Zone,” and “MACtivity Student Center.”
No matter the difficulties over the years in gauging student interest, the new SAB and expanded pulse are slated to improve student life and introduce a variety of new services. The building is expected to be completed sometime between 2020 and 2021.
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Just across from what will be the Peter George Centre for Living and Learning, ground is about to be broken for another major infrastructural project.
The McMaster Students Union recently launched a second consultation campaign for the Student Activity Building, a four-story building project that students voted in favour of in a school-wide special referendum in March 2017. The building is expected to be fully operational by the fall of 2020.
In August 2017, the MSU ran an initial consultation campaign to determine the different uses of the new building. The ongoing second campaign began this September and hopes to collect student feedback on the interior design of the building.
“This addition to campus represents years of student consultation being put into action. Many different groups collaborated in order to make the Student Activity Building and Pulse expansion a reality". - @itsikramfarah, MSU President. Vote here: https://t.co/An7snz3Ahr. pic.twitter.com/QOdF93aCq5
— McMaster Students Union (MSU) (@MSU_McMaster) September 18, 2018
The SAB space ad-hoc committee, which is composed of six combined MSU and Student Representative Assembly members, is overseeing the consultation campaign. The group is being led by Alexandrea Johnston, the associate vice president (Finance) for the MSU.
“This year, the campaign is on the interior design, so that is ranging from anything to what kinds of colour do you want to see on the walls, what kind of furniture, and what do you even want the building to be named?” said Johnston.
The campaign includes a survey that asks students to pick from a number of options for the interior design of the building. It can be accessed online through the MSU website or in person at tables in MUSC on Sept. 25 and 28.
The SAB is different from other McMaster buildings in that while the university committed ten million dollars to the project, students are responsible for paying 70 per cent of the capital cost of the building once it opens.
As students are paying for the vast majority of the building, the MSU has full say over the uses of the building.
“The McMaster Student Union has full operational autonomy over the building,” said Scott Robinson, MSU vice president (Finance). “We can decide that we want to own the grocery store. We can decide to change event space to a pool. Whatever we want, whatever it is, we have full operational autonomy.”
The first consultation survey reached approximately 1,500 students, 400 of which took an online survey similar to the one found in this year’s second campaign.
With more than 25,000 undergrad students at McMaster, Johnston is trying to reach more than 400 to fully assess student wants.
The four-storey building will feature a nap room and a grocery store. However, the building has not been fully designed yet. Once Johnston’s SAB committee receives feedback from this second campaign, information will be passed to Robinson and the MSU. According to Robinson’s year plan, a report will be filed at the end of the first semester on the campaign.
Excavation for the student-funded Student Activity Building will begin in November, just across from the Peter George Centre for Living and Learning.
McMaster students are encouraged to make time to fill out the survey and give their feedback and thoughts on what they want in the new building, considering the large part they contribute to its funding.