Abbotsford – UFV Student Union Society President Thomas Davies is like a proud new homeowner as he leads people through the brand new Student Union Building at UFV.
He shows off the entrance way (a massive atrium), the entertainment room (a huge conference space that can be divided into three meeting rooms), and the dining room (a new restaurant on the second floor). There are even cozy spots for student catnaps in comfortable lounge chairs.
The SUB, as it will be known, will host an official grand opening in the fall, but for now the occupants are quietly moving in and getting to know the new building.
The $17.3 million SUB represents the culmination of a collaborative design and construction effort that began in 2008. The building is a joint venture between the Student Union Society and the university, and was financed on a cost-shared basis, with UFV students providing over $10 million of the funding through a $35 per semester fee approved in a referendum in 2008. The university provided the balance of the funding.
Accordingly, SUS has oversight of two thirds of the building space and administrative responsibility for the operation of the facility including room rental, booking, space allocation for clubs, and restaurant operations. UFV will occupy one third of the building’s footprint for student-focused services, office space, and other uses.
UFV departments that will be based in the SUB include:
Student Life (already moved in) S1111
Career Centre (already moved in) S3123
Aboriginal Access Services (already moved in) S1113
Campus Card (moving mid-May) S1101
Advisors (moving late May) S3109–3115
(Advisors moving include some from Student Services, as well as those from Science Advice and Arts Advice.)
The Student Union Society offices are already operational on the first floor. CIVL Radio and the Cascade newspaper are also up and running in their brand new digs on the second floor. Observers will be able to see CIVL deejays at work through glassed-in booths.
“We’re very excited about this new SUB because there has been no purely student-focused space on campus until now and this is going to be extremely student-focused. It will be a one-stop shop – students can meet, eat, hang out, and access services here,” Davies says. “We wanted to create a place that encourages student engagement and connections, and I think we have achieved it.”
Craig Toews, UFV Executive Director of Campus Planning, has been working with SUS on this project since 2008, and is very pleased to see this long-anticipated project come to fruition.
“This is a great example of cooperation, building on our great relationship with SUS leadership,” he says. “We started brainstorming with student focus groups in 2008. This new building will contribute to a vibrant and enhanced student experience.”
Toews also noted that other universities are looking with interest into the innovative self-financing model for the project, which was achieved without government funding and with UFV not incurring debt.
Student Union Society and other student user-group facilities
Main floor — atrium, Great Hall, SUS offices
On the main floor, the highlight is the bright and airy atrium, and the massive Great Hall that opens off of it. This conference-ready room will be operated by SUS, and comes with a standing liquor licence, so that user groups will no longer have to secure their own licence. Also located on the main floor will be Fair Grounds, a fair-trade coffee and snack bar, as well as the SUS main office.
The Cascade newspaper
The Canoe restaurant
The new SUS-run restaurant, the Canoe, has a “west-coast Whistler” style feel to its design, and will offer a wide variety of menu items, says Davies.
There will be the standard pizza, pasta, and sandwich options, but much more on the expanded menu. The Canoe will also offer catering for events within the SUB.
Located on the second floor, the Canoe offers great views of the campus green and a special room and deck that can be booked for events.
Lounges and food bank
Also found on the second floor are student lounges with foosball and pool tables and comfortable sitting areas, clubs and association rooms. An expanded student food bank will also be located there.
Third floor — bookable meeting rooms, IT Services for students, Equalities office
On the third floor are meeting rooms that can be booked by departments (for a small fee) through the SUS, and new spaces for student-focused IT Services (for student-owned devices) , and space for the new SUS-run Equalities office.
SUS Executive Director Meghan McDonald is eager to educate UFV audiences about the potential uses of the new SUB.
“There is a lot of confusion about who is overseeing the public spaces within the SUB,” she says. “On a day-to-day basis the Student Union Society is managing the public space such as the atrium, hallways, and seating areas. There is a committee overseeing the building on a more general basis that is made up of UFV SUS representatives to ensure there is regular communication of ongoing projects and any issues surrounding public space.”
While SUS controls much of the new building, McDonald is quick to point out that everyone is welcome there.
“The new SUB is student-focused, but we really want to encourage faculty, staff, administration, and alumni to frequent the space,” she emphasizes. “This is meant to be a community-building space, where all of UFV can come together. The SUB features many bright, open, and flexible spaces.”
She says they have intentionally chosen fun and inviting décor and comfortable furniture.
“We want the whole SUB to be thought of as an inviting ‘campus living room’ that everyone can enjoy.”
McDonald encourages departments to consider booking SUB spaces for meetings and events.
“There will be small fees involved, but all the revenue we take in goes back into services that benefit students, such as scholarships and recreational programs.”
If you are interested in learning more about the Student Union Building and the rooms and services that can be booked through the Student Union Society, contact SUS Executive Director Meghan McDonald at email@example.com.