It’s free real estate. Photo: Rame Abdulkader.
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When one door closes, another arts building should open

Brooks, the apartment-style residence positioned in the middle of campus, was permanently closed earlier this month, and now the university must answer the question: what is the best way to utilize this recently abandoned space?

In my opinion, the answer is clear: the site of the former Brooks residence should be used by the university to build a new arts building.

Of all the possibilities, why an arts building? Well, let’s take a trip down memory lane. There was the recent construction of the Learning Crossroads building, the Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics building, the Faculty of Social Sciences (FSS) building in 2012, as well as the School of Information Technology and Engineering building in 2002.

Meanwhile, arts students have been left behind amidst the U of O’s modernization efforts. The faculty’s students have to continuously struggle with Simard. Although it’s not the oldest—it was built in 1956—in my opinion it’s the university’s most outdated building. Its single, narrow and constantly congested hallway leads to small, badly lit classrooms that have a high school-esque appearance. Study space is almost nonexistent, and the only food service is Café Alt, in the building’s basement.

The science, engineering, and social science faculties have modernized, and can provide their students with ideal learning environments—why not extend this same effort to arts students?

Not to mention that students in other faculties get to enjoy the convenience of having all of their classes in the same area, while arts students are constantly scrambling across the whole campus. This alone proves Simard’s inability to handle the size of its faculty.

A new arts building on the site of the former Brooks residence would allow the faculty to catch up, and create an environment that would enhance their students’ learning rather than hinder it.

If you ask me, this new building should be built in the same vein as FSS and the Learning Crossroads building, with an open concept, easy-to-navigate layout and large windows that allow for plenty of light, (which is something not many arts students are familiar with in Simard). The building should include classrooms of varying sizes since the size of arts classes can fluctuate from 10 to over 150 people. This building should also provide easy access to both the Morisset library as well as the law library by building an overhead passage.

Despite all of the new buildings, study space remains very limited on campus, so the university should also make a concerted effort to create as much study space as possible.

The recent loss of the Brooks residence is unfortunate, but it has given the university an opportunity to fix a problem that desperately needs to be addressed: modernization of the U of O’s arts building.