The year 2016 has been eventful, with many new and innovative infrastructures and initiatives at the University of Saskatchewan, as well as a few challenges and setbacks. As a way to ring in the new year, the Sheaf has put together a list of highlights from 2016 campus events.
Opening of the Gordon Oakes-Red Bear Student Centre
Jan. 4: The year began with the Gordon Oakes-Red Bear Student Centre opening its doors to U of S students. The university budgeted $17 million for the project and it took three and a half years of construction to complete. The aim of the centre is to provide a safe space for all students, especially those who are Indigenous, to house the Indigenous students’ societies and councils and to host Indigenous cultural events. The building’s namesake, Gordon Oakes, was a Nakaneet First Nations elder and spiritual leader who emphasized the treaty relationship as a partnership wherein both groups need to work together equally, and that is the ongoing tone of the student centre.
Indigenous content implemented into degree programs
Jan. 21: University Council passed a motion to implement Indigenous content into all U of S degree programs. The motion was presented by the U of S Students’ Union in November 2015, but the initiative began long before that. The aim of implementing Indigenous content is to promote Indigenous knowledge and ways of teaching in order to reconcile the past and bring about understanding for the future. Rather than requiring each student to pass an Indigenous studies class, as other universities in Canada have done, the U of S will implement content appropriate to each of the different degree programs.
School of architecture initiative
Feb. 4: Since 2008, the U of S has been developing an initiative for a school of architecture at the university. Until February 2016, the discussion had remained among the faculty and students directly involved in the initiative. On Feb. 4, the U of S held an open house to discuss the matter with the Saskatchewan public and to determine the needs of Saskatchewan citizens regarding the mission and mandate of the school of architecture. To date, there is no school of architecture in the province, and those involved believe that the school will positively impact Saskatchewan’s economy, industry and communities.
USSU’s 2016-17 budget report
Mar. 15: The USSU’s budget report for 2016-17 was put forward in March at a USSU general meeting. The USSU revealed that its two main focuses were increases in campus group funding and relocations and renovations of the USSU centres. The U of S campus has over 150 student groups that make the culture and community rich and diverse, and the USSU is continuing to allow that diversity to grow. In terms of the centres, the USSU Women’s Centre was relocated before the 2016-17 fall term to the Memorial Union Building room 103, a larger and more open space than they occupied previously.
Flooding at St. Thomas More College Library
July 24: After a rainstorm the night before, some of the STM Shannon Library books, placed in temporary storage because of the North Building Renewal Project, were exposed to harsh flooding. Four hundred books, including some special editions, were so damaged that they had to be discarded. However, the library staff remains optimistic that most of the books that were lost can be replaced, and the cost will be covered by insurance. The STM Library renovation project is expected to be completed in spring of 2017, at which time the library will be open to students once again.
U of S Bookstore goes alphabetical
Sept. 4: Over the summer, the U of S Bookstore reorganized textbooks into alphabetical order by author’s last name. The previous organizational system was by course name and number, a complicated system that made it difficult for staff to quickly assist students on their textbook search. Rather than needing all class information, staff now need only the author’s last name and the title of the textbook. The change was implemented for the beginning of the 2016-17 school year.
U of S begins to craft substance abuse policy
Sept. 9: The U of S released a notification regarding an incident of student misconduct involving substance abuse that took place off campus the night before. The notification was sent to all students in order to build awareness of the problems caused by alcohol use, especially around the beginning of the school year. This incident sparked plans for a university alcohol and substance abuse policy.
New REACT campaign to prevent sexual assault
Sept. 26: The U of S released a new campaign and an updated USafe app to prevent sexual assaults on campus. The aim of the campaign was to shift the cultural dialogue surrounding sexual assault to one of accountability in order to create a campus that is safe and healthy for all students. In conjunction with the campaign, the USafe app provides educational material and resources to help students prevent and react to sexual assault.
Commitment to sustainability initiatives
Oct. 11: U of S president, Peter Stoicheff, and the USSU’s Sustainability Committee signed a Memorandum of Understanding on sustainability in October. This document signifies the support and promotion of environmentally sustainable initiatives across campus. The focus of the memorandum is not only on environmental sustainability, but also on economic and social sustainability. The involved parties signed the document because they believe that the creation of a wholly sustainably society should start with communities and campuses.
New childcare facility opens on campus
Oct. 17: A new expansion of the USSU Childcare Centre was opened in October. The project was budgeted at around $4.3 million and has increased the capacity of the centre from 66 spaces to 156 spaces. This expansion was mandated because of undergraduate student parents’ increasing need for access to affordable day care near campus. Because of the new centre, the waiting list for spots has decreased drastically. The Childcare Centre accepts children between the ages of six months and six years and has a fully trained staff.
Groundbreaking asthma research at the U of S
Nov. 26: Researchers at the U of S made a significant breakthrough on asthma and other allergies and autoimmune diseases. The research was led by Dr. John Gordon, a professor in the department of medicine at the U of S. Gordon’s research team has developed an immunotherapy technique that has reversed food allergies in mice, and the team hopes to accomplish the same with humans.