Photo by MJMA Architects
By: Elliot Fung
In March 2017, students voted in a special referendum in favour of of the creation of the new Student Activity Building and expanded Pulse. Years of student surveys, focus groups and planning seem to be finally paying off as construction for the new 40,000 square foot Student Activity Building and expanded Pulse begins this fall.
The McMaster Students Union SAB space allocation ad-hoc committee was struck at a Student Representative Assembly meeting last April and serves to consult students about their ideas and priorities regarding space allocation in the new building and ensure that the ways in which space and student fees are used align with students’ interests.
SAB student consultation surveys in the past have largely focused on space allocation and what services students want in a building dedicated to them. Some recommendations for the SAB consisted of study spaces, nap rooms, lounge space, a cafe and food court, a multifaith prayer space and a grocery store.
The 2017 SAB space allocation ad-hoc committee survey garnered 426 responses. Nevertheless, with a student body of approximately 27,000, the responses represent the opinions of only 1.6 per cent of the undergraduate student population in 2017.
This September, the MSU spearheaded a final campaign to consult students about more specific design preferences for the new SAB. The final survey asked students what they want the interior of the SAB to look like.
The final report from this year’s SAB committee highlights that within the four weeks of the survey being open, the total complete responses tallied to 945. While the committee report boasts a 105 per cent increase in undergraduate student responses as compared to last year’s poor showing, 945 still represents only approximately 3.5 per cent of the undergrad student body.
Nevertheless, promotion of the survey on social media and in-person reached many students.
In particular, the SAB committee reports that the promotional Facebook video reached 5,000 unique viewers and approximately 1,200 students received information cards at McMaster Homecoming Expo.
This year, the committee suggests a number of interior design elements based on the majority results of the online survey. Some of the suggestions include removable cushions on the first-floor open steps, tables in the third-floor meeting room with a dynamic design in addition to a clear glass writable surface, hanging greenery, a light colour palette for the interior aesthetic and both reclining and straight nap chairs for the designated nap room.
The 2018 survey also included a portion asking about potential names for the Student Activity Building. Approximately nine per cent of responses suggested keeping the current name. Other names suggested included variations of “Student Activity Building,” such as “McMaster Student Activity Building” or naming the building after a McMaster alum with significant achievements such as Roberta Bondar or Donna Strickland Building.
Other less serious and comical names were suggested, including “MUSC 2.0,” “Marauder’s Nest,” “Chill Zone,” and “MACtivity Student Center.”
No matter the difficulties over the years in gauging student interest, the new SAB and expanded pulse are slated to improve student life and introduce a variety of new services. The building is expected to be completed sometime between 2020 and 2021.