Not many university students have taken out a $10 million loan, but that's just what Laurentian University's Students General Association (SGA) did in building its new Student Centre.
The new student-owned building officially opened Monday morning.
“We want this building to be a home for all Laurentian students to come to, to feel welcome in,” said SGA president Eric Chappell.
“We want this space to be something different on campus, to not be solely academic, but to also be a space for people to be creative in and feel comfortable in, to see the potential that this brings to our students.
“We have an opportunity here unlike any other to allow a opportunity to enhance our student life experience.”
The new Student Centre, located near the Parker Building and the university's residences, has been a student-led undertaking for more than five years, following a successful student referendum.
SGA students have been paying a fee and investing in this capital project since 2014.
Built with an eye towards sustainability, the centre is divided into two main areas: the lobby and the lower level.
The lobby is open to the public and houses a coffee shop (an Old Rock coffee outlet), club rooms and even a dental hygienist.
All students who contribute to the centre through a student centre fee, which is mandatory for members of the SGA and optional for others, will have access to the lower level which features a spacious atrium, games rooms, and several private study areas.
Chappell told those gathered at the opening ceremony students especially wanted a lot of power outlets to plug in their cellphones and computers — “it is 2019,” he said.
They also wanted study spaces, food options and “a homey northern experience,” Chappell said.
While the student centre is a student-led initiative, the SGA did have help from Laurentian's capital projects department, which co-ordinates building projects on campus.
“Without them, well, we'd probably still be trying to get the loan,” Chappell said.
Members of the SGA have been paying $113 each per year toward the new Student Centre since the referendum on the project passed, and will continue to do so for the next 20 years.
“The students made the choice,” Chappell said. “They spoke loud and clear. We support them and what they wanted.”
Laurentian University's newly-installed president, Robert Haché, said the new Student Centre marks a first for the university.
“This is the first stand-alone building in the university's nearly 60-year history that is dedicated to, funded and operated by students,” he said.
“It's an incredible accomplishment by the leaders of our Students General Association, both past and present.”