Petition advocates for more study space in Lazaridis Hall

Photo by Victoria Panacci

A petition was recently created in order to raise awareness about the concerns of undergraduate students who feel there isn’t enough study space available to them in Lazaridis Hall, located on the Wilfrid Laurier University Waterloo campus.

The petition was originally created on Jan. 17 by a Laurier student in first-year business administration, who did not wish to disclose her name.

“It originally started last semester when I was finding myself spending more time trying to find a spot to study rather than actually studying. During group projects it was impossible to find anywhere more than at least two people could sit down to work together,” she said.

In just a week, the petition now has over 900 signatures, gaining the attention of undergraduate students in all programs at Laurier, not just those having trouble in Lazaridis Hall.

The creator of the petition explained she feels that graduate students’ studies are just as important as undergraduate students.

“I think [undergraduate students] deserve the same amount of space because, first of all, there’s more of them and, also, you won’t be able to have graduate students if your undergraduates don’t earn the marks to get there.”

While Lazaridis Hall is still under construction, it currently holds 400 seats for study purposes with about 60 tables spread on all of the floors. Each level holds a mix of chairs, couches and tables.

Michael Kelly, dean of the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics, said that though there is still a fair amount of space which isn’t being currently accessed to due to construction, there is almost ten times more space then what was available in the Frank C. Peters building and the Schlegel Centre.

Kelly also explained that the issue concerning the petition stems from a lack of communication between the building’s administration and students.

“I think we probably have not done a very good job of indicating the space available to students. I notice that students have been saying there’s no space above the first floor — there’s tons of space above the first floor,” he said.

According to Kelly, the student who started the petition allegedly spoke with The Lazaridis Hall building director of undergraduate programs, who clarified the miscommunication.

“[They] outlined for her all the space that was available and I think she actually didn’t realize what was available to undergraduate students,” Kelly claimed.

As for designated space for graduate students, Kelly does not feel that the spots that belong to masters of business administration students and other graduate programs in the building creates an issue and does not take away from the many spaces available to undergraduate students.

As well, he mentioned that a number of spaces dedicated to the needs of graduate students in the Frank C. Peters building and the Schlegel Centre were recently lost.

These newly allocated spots in Lazaridis Hall make up for what was taken away. Kelly and other Lazaridis Hall administration plan to use a number of communication vehicles in order to clarify the miscommunication and ensure that students are aware of the space that is available.

Once the building is complete, Kelly plans on looking into how the rooms and space are being used, then determining how to make the best use of what is available.

“This is a fantastic building. The students should recognize it’s one of the best business school buildings in the country. It’s phenomenal space. We will do a much better job of letting people know what space is available to them and as we get a better sense of usage, we’ll look at how we can use the space better,” Kelly said.

Samantha Deeming, president of Graduate Students’ Association, also said that with more communication in regards to space available and timelines for construction, students’ concerns can be addressed.

“The graduate students’ specific spaces on the fourth floor, in our opinion, shows Laurier’s commitment to being a comprehensive university,” Deeming said.

“I do understand where the undergraduates are coming from — from the perspective of space because there is a limited amount on campus. But I think it is just as important at the graduate level for students to have space as well.”

Deeming said that she is hopeful the issue will be further addressed once the building is no longer under construction and being used to its full potential.

The issue regarding lack of study space, however, is not limited to Lazaridis Hall and has been a concern for students in various other programs.

“Study space is not a new problem for students … I don’t think there’s enough space on campus for students in general to do things like sit-down and study in groups or have that alone, quiet time,” Tyler Van Herzele, president and CEO of Students’ Union, said.

While Van Herzele explained that he enjoys being able to hear thoughts and opinions of the student voice, he wishes he had heard more from students who had concerns in order to enable him to address the issue.

“If we don’t hear about something until a petition has been made, in my opinion, that’s something that we’ve failed on because we would love to be able to act and assist students in their endeavours as opposed to only finding out there’s a group of disgruntled students down the line,” he said.

Van Herzele and the Students’ Union have been discussing the issue of study space on campus for quite some time.

They plan to work with Laurier Student Affairs to have conversations about creating more access for students on both the Waterloo and Brantford campuses.

“What the Students’ Union plans to do is to continue to advocate for more access to areas on campus for undergraduate and grad students,” Van Herzele said.

“Of course the Students’ Union focuses on undergraduate students [sic], but student access in general.”

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