Master plan seeks student input

The Wilfrid Laurier University Master Plan will be publicly released today, providing current students with their first real look at how Laurier is set to grow over the next 25 years.

“It’s a snapshot into the future of what the campus might look like given growth and given the passage of time,” said Laurier president Max Blouw. “It’s a redevelopment of the older parts of the campus and then a minor expansion to include a little bit more … on the perimeter of the campus.”

Until the release of this plan, there has been very limited student input going into its development. There has been little to no opportunity for open discussion and input from the average student.

Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union president Laura Sheridan is currently serving as the undergraduate student representative and president of the Wilfrid Laurier University Graduate Students’ Association (WLUGSA) Melanie Banks is the graduate studies representative on the steering committee; other than those two positions, no other current students are involved with the committee.

“The university master plan is something that’s been in the works for a while but it’s getting at the stage now where there are some concrete final plans in place,” said Sheridan.

An open house will be held from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. and then again between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. in the lower concourse today and tomorrow, providing visuals and information about the plan.

Representatives from the external consultants, IBI group, will be present to answer students’ questions and hear comments and concerns as they look at Laurier’s future.

While students participated in both Waterloo and Brantford workshops discussing issues about the master plan, most of the work was done over the summer months so many students were not on campus during this time.

Open forums with stakeholder groups such as students, alumni and the City of Waterloo were pointed out to be advantageous when the plan was first touched upon last spring, as were student input sessions. To date, students have not been given a chance to openly and freely discuss their opinions.

“I know that that type of thing is difficult and time consuming but, for something that is the magnitude that this plan is, it would probably be beneficial,” said 2008-09 WLUSU president Colin LeFevre.

LeFevre explains that student input is critical in the development of a plan for Laurier’s future as they are living and experiencing Laurier. Students know best what works on campus and what needs to be worked on; they can give good insight into how Laurier can be improved for future generations.

“We’re the experts at Laurier right now, this is our campus, we know what’s going on, we all probably have our own ideas of how this campus can improve and what we want to have stay,” said Sheridan.

“As the experts, it’s our duty to ensure that we’re communicating these opinions so that the students that come after us are able to benefit from the knowledge that we have being current Laurier students,” she added.

Sheridan also points out how the ideas of current students will not only benefit the plans being made for future students, it will also prove advantageous for future association with the university as alumni.

If Laurier looks and functions efficiently and successfully, there will be positive connotations attached to our degrees.

While there does not seem to have been enough opportunity for student input thus far in the master plan, they now have the opportunity to look at what the consultant group has put together and decide what we agree with and where we feel changes should be made.

“What is being put forward [Wednesday], and I believe the next little while, is a draft,” said Blouw.

In other words it is the document around which we’re intending to have discussion, so hearing the students voices around what is being proposed is critically important.”