What are we going to see from this redevelopment?
The quality of the JDUC’s physical infrastructure has fallen significantly behind over the years. A major redevelopment is necessary to correct deficiencies in layout and student space, necessary equipment and storage for student services, heating, cooling, and lighting throughout the building, and barrier-free accessibility.
This redevelopment is happening because you deserve better. You deserve a JDUC that is accessible, that has increased student life space, that has improved services.
The redevelopment increases and modernizes study space, club and faculty society offices in the JDUC. It will also improve student services to better serve you, including the Queen’s Pub, Tricolour Outlet and others. In order to achieve this, we will optimize and reduce administrative spaces to increase student-facing programmatic spaces.
If other universities have updated their student life centres, why are we only updating it now?
Back in 2005, the University and the AMS had announced plans to update athletic and student life facilities through the Queen’s Centre project. For many reasons, the project grounded to a standstill and was ultimately shelved in 2012. Since then, many other universities – including McMaster, York, UBC, Ryerson and others – have updated and modernized their student life space.
Queen’s prides itself as Canada’s best student experience within an academically rigorous and research-intensive environment. This project is necessary for us to remain relevant and to improve the student connection with campus, whether it be graduate, undergraduate or professional students.
Why is this project being funded with student fees? Why isn’t the University picking up the entire cost?
The University will pay its fair share into the redevelopment, including deferred maintenance, staffing resources and alumni donations and support. We are close to a deal with the University that will ensure all students have a voice throughout this redevelopment process and get a deal that works for them.
Student fees are a standard funding model for student life space redevelopments across the country – from UBC to Ryerson and McMaster.
After we reach a final agreement with the University, the AMS and SGPS will ask students to approve a student fee at a referendum this winter. The AMS believes that our fees must be low, affordable and deliver value for money.
Student life is at the core of the Queen’s experience. Our students have consistently said they need a building to complement and fosters that experience. In order to achieve that, we as Queen’s students must take action.
How were the architectural designs decided upon and are they final?
The architects were given specific instructions on student life space and the operational requirements of the services housed in the JDUC, which they then designed. In 2015/16, we consulted all the building’s occupants, including student managers, on what they need to provide high quality service to all students. We examined that report again, consulted with these groups again and then used those findings to speak to the architects.
The plans you see today are not final. If the student fee funding for this project is approved by AMS and SGPS referendum in February, this project will only go forward with continued student input. The AMS and SGPS will consult with students throughout the development of the building to ensure its layout and services provide a student life centre that works for everyone. After we have gathered input, we will undertake a process of value engineering on the building – which will balance the affordability of the student fee against the programmatic elements of the building.
I’m graduating this year. I will never experience the benefits of the JDUC but suffer through construction. Why should I care about the JDUC redevelopment?
Today, Queen’s will fall behind in other areas if we do not catch up with other universities and redevelop our space to complement a strong student experience. That is why we are pursuing this project.
The AMS and SGPS agree that we must ensure that students pay a fair amount into the building.
This is your chance to leave a legacy for the students that will follow in your footsteps. In fact, many buildings on campus were built because of students. The iconic limestone Grant Hall – the stage from which most of us will receive our degrees, the venue of countless final exams and the site of a temporary military hospital during the First World War – was funded by students to honour the dying Principal George Monro Grant, In more recent years, the Queen’s Centre was funded by student fees – from students that never got to experience the Queen’s Centre – at a time when our athletic facilities were largely panned in the bottom few among Ontario’s universities.
How much is the AMS and SGPS putting into the project?
The AMS and SGPS are currently in discussions with the University about the final cost of the building and the ultimate contribution from each party. Until those negotiations are finalized, we do not know the exact contribution amount.
In 2015/16, the AMS Executive completed a $1.2 million renovation project for the JDUC significantly underbudget. Since then, the AMS has used those surplus funds to start the architectural planning process for an updated JDUC. This initial stage funding ensured that all initial costs associated with the project did not come from general student money.
Both the AMS and SGPS run on a breakeven basis. The AMS does not make money from its services like the Queen’s Pub and spends student fees on programs like the Peer Support Centre, Academic Grievance Centre and many others that students rely on. Similarly, the SGPS budget funds programs and services like the Student Advisor Program.
While some services like Tricolour Outlet make money, others like the Walkhome do not. In the AMS food and retail services, managers made the deliberate decision to keep prices low and accessible for students. AMS and SGPS students also pay a fee to the Student Life Centre fee to cover basic space upkeep costs.
Does this project only benefit Arts and Science students? What will students in Commerce and Engineering see from this project?
The JDUC is for all students regardless of faculty, year or level of study. The fact is a modern school must have space that all students can use to facilitate campus-wide student life. We have consulted and will continue to consult all students, including those in Commerce and Engineering, on what they want to see in a redeveloped JDUC.
Today, students from all faculties are not using the JDUC as much as they could be because it doesn’t meet their needs. As we heard from our consultation, students from all faculties would be more likely to use the JDUC once it is redeveloped to house more study space, club and faculty society space, and improved student services.
Graduate and professional students don’t use the JDUC, what will they get from this redevelopment?
Today, the space needs of graduate and professional students are under served, which contributes to a weaker sense of belonging to the Queen’s community among graduate and professional students relative to undergraduate students. One issue we have heard from SGPS students in particular is the pressing need for graduate-specific space, which will foster collaboration and set a community-centric tone among students who come to Queen’s for post-graduate studies. A new JDUC will improve the space deficit for graduate and professional students, which will make the JDUC a more welcoming place for SGPS members.
How long will construction go on for?
As soon as the fee is approved, the University will work to complete construction as quickly as possible. Of course, this will depend on the complexity of the final plans which we will develop with your input. A comparable project, the revitalization of the Innovation and Wellness Centre right next door, is scheduled and on-track to take about one calendar year.
We know how disruptive construction can be. We will work closely with the construction firm to ensure that we undertake major construction at low traffic times, particularly in the summer, holiday season, and others. Before the project moves into the construction phase, we will also consult more closely with clubs, societies, services and other building tenants to ensure that their operations face minimal disruption from the construction.