FNCC to change face over summer

Over the summer, the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union (WLUSU) is planning a massive overhaul of the third floor of the Fred Nichols Campus Centre and its 24-Hour Lounge, plans that came before the WLUSU board of directors Mar. 25.

The floor and lounge are home to the offices of full-time WLUSU staff, a marketing lab, the Student Leadership Centre, Foot Patrol and Legal Resources offices, public-use computers and various couches and chairs for students to relax on.

The new area created by the nearly $600,000 project will be more open-concept, with over 90 additional study seats, and most private areas of the floor, including offices, eliminated.

“Pretty well any wall aside from the exterior wall of the floor is being ripped down,” WLUSU president Kyle Walker explained.

The offices of full-time WLUSU staff are to be replaced by semi-private cubicles while Foot Patrol’s office will be moved to the first floor entrance of the FNCC.
According to Walker, the office space will take up slightly more lounge space than it currently does.

Walker stated that the increase in allocated office space was essential. “Our staff have been scattered throughout the building, and as we’ve done that, we’ve taken away space from students that belonged to them originally,” he said. “We’ll get double the employees in there that we have now.”
The project is being funded partly through WLUSU’s line of credit, as well as $206,000 approved from the Student Life Levy. In the Mar. 25 meeting, proposed bathroom updates to the tune of $80,000 were struck down by the board.

WLUSU director Chris Walker supported the reconstruction, believing it would allow more productivity for both students and staff. “I’m overwhelmingly in favour of it,” he said.

“The changes to the WLUSU offices will promote a lot of collaboration and better communication between people.”

Director Walker also liked the idea of increasing students’ study space. “Study space is really scarce on campus,” he said. “It’s important that the union recognizes what we can do for students in that way.”

Some students fear that the social space is being compromised.
Fourth-year student Chris Muir says that the renovations will accomplish little and take away from one of the few relaxing spaces on campus.

“It’s a social space,” he said, “it’s not a study space. Keep this as a lounge. Keep this as a comfy place to come and relax after class.”

Muir, an active member of several clubs and services, also expressed worry that the clubs would lose out on space for meetings and socials.

Kyle Walker stated that the space would still be usable by clubs, though he admitted it was not ideal. “We’re definitely in discussions right now about a more long-term solution for club space,” he said.

With WLUSU focusing more energy and funding towards clubs — there are 130 registered campus clubs this year — Walker said that finding a space for them to convene is a priority.

“We need to find a suitable club space for them that isn’t just hand-me-down space,” he said. “We need storage, and meeting areas where they can do work during the day and hold an event at night.”

The Hawk’s Nest area of the Turret is being converted to a clubs space and as a result will no longer be a part of the Turret itself. The space was renovated at some expense in 2007 to serve primarily as a rentable area for weddings and gatherings.

According to Walker, the project will commence at the beginning of May. “[Incoming president] Nick [Gibson] and his team are not even moving into these offices,” he said.

Gibson and his management team will occupy temporary offices in the Terrace this summer.

Walker emphasized that the project will be completed by the time students return in September.

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