Commentary  How do we (want to) use the SSMU Building?


Dear Daily,

With the recent announcement of the departure of Travel Cuts/Voyages Campus from the first floor of SSMU Building, and of course in the context of SSMU’s frustratingly confidential ongoing lease negotiations with the University, we are in the midst of a historic opportunity to establish student priorities for McGill’s only undergraduate student-run building. It is in this setting that the SSMU Executive team is excited to announce the beginning of a SSMU building visioning campaign to guide current and future decision-making about how space in the SSMU/Shatner building is allocated and managed.

We often feel from the SSMU office that the Shatner Building – the Leacock-esque concrete megalith that I’m told is soon to be considered a historical monument – is falling apart at the seams, especially as its 1960s-era heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system costs increasingly absurd amounts to maintain. Yet everyday I see how vital this building is as the foundation for a huge proportion of McGill’s student life, through the comical diversity of events that pack the building every day. So what does “student-run” mean, especially in terms of space? What values guide student-run spaces, and make them inherently different from others? As one of increasingly few students left on campus who can remember daily trips to the Architecture Café, I hope the sense of need (and urgency) around the lack of such space on campus is still clear to incoming students who have entered McGill in an ever more corporate status quo.

This Friday in the Madeleine Parent (formerly Breakout) room of SSMU, we will discuss food operations, the student-run cafe, our priorities in the building, sustainability and accessibility, event space needs, and what differentiates this building from the rest of space on campus with the goal of producing a long-term vision to guide future space allocations, current projects, and SSMU priorities in lease negotiations. This is our chance to make a big impact on the future of this building and some very exciting projects. Whether you want a student-run cafe, more bookable space, a gym, more club offices, or whatever else you can dream up, come learn about the history of the building and current initiatives, and make your voice heard!

The SSMU Summit on Space in Shatner will take place on Friday, February 1, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

—Allison Cooper

SSMU VP Clubs & Services