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Motion hopes to extend service hours, put an end to SITE’s disappearing chairs

Photo: Nadia Drissi El-Bouzaidi

The Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) will lobby the central administration to improve services on the south side of campus, the Board of Administration (BOA) decided on Feb. 22.

The lobbying effort asks the university to ensure that tables are equipped with chairs in the School of Information Technology and Engineering (SITE), that computer lab and food service hours be extended, and that overall food services be improved.

“The point of this motion was to help make life a little easier for students looking to study and work in the south end of campus,” said Veronica Carpani, the BOA member of the Faculty of Engineering who introduced the motion.

Carpani said she developed it based on recommendations from students she spoke with during the election.

“While I was campaigning I got to talk to a lot of students and asked them all if there was anything they wanted fixed,” she said.

“It’s definitely a motion that responded to the needs of students on the south side of campus,” said SFUO president Anne-Marie Roy, adding that they tend to focus on more central buildings like the University Centre.

She said she’s brought up the issue of the missing chairs in SITE before with university officials. The university has had issues with students taking the chairs, said Roy, which seems to explain why there never seems to be enough seating in the engineering building.

The university has recently addressed the issue, adding 150 chairs and planning to add more “in the coming weeks,” they said in an email to the Fulcrum.

“The university is looking at a more permanent solution, as chairs are often taken or moved to other buildings,” the statement read.

Carpani also said she wants computer lab hours extended and to have at least one open 24/7.

Engineering students are required to use specific software to complete projects and can’t work anywhere except for the university’s computer labs, she said. The software is often too expensive for most students to purchase themselves.

According to Michel Racine, systems manager for the Faculty of Engineering, the labs in SITE and the Colonel By building are already open from 6 a.m. to midnight, and the lab’s closure is “imposed by the university’s Protection Services, to protect students and facilities.”

Racine explained the need for security measures, citing an incident in 2007 at Carleton University when a female student was sexually assaulted in a computer lab.

“Having the labs opened beyond would require a security guard to be on site during these times,” Racine said in an email to the Fulcrum. The faculty did have one lab open 24/7 for three weeks in November at the request of a professor, but Racine said they don’t have the budget to extend hours year-round.

Carpani’s motion also looks to extend the hours of the cafeteria, which is closed on weekends, and Tim Hortons in SITE, which closes at 3 p.m.

“Food Services is aware of the SFUO’s motion, and was already conducting a survey to assess food service delivery,” said Patrick Genest, director of Food Services, in an email to the Fulcrum.

“It is important to note that to provide healthy options at fair and competitive prices, many factors must be taken into consideration,” Genest wrote. “For example, the opening hours of our food services must be reflective of demand, measured in part by sales.”

While Food Services has planned a major overhaul of their services in the University Centre this fall, including a 24/7 dining hall, they haven’t announced any changes on the south side.