Murray Room funeral: STM sends off student lounge after 50 years

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St. Thomas More College at the University of Saskatchewan is a Catholic liberal arts college that dedicates itself to student life and community. Since 1963, the Murray Room student lounge has been at the centre of this community, but with the current renovations at STM, the lounge will be decommissioned.

For the past year, STM has undergone renovations to the north side of the building that will expand the Shannon Library and create a new front reception area for the college. The final product of the renovations will also include a new student lounge and student group offices, replacing the Murray Room.

Murray Room Mass, Dennis Dorgan on guitar and Fr. William O'Brien, csb - Supplied - STM Archives
Dennis Dorgan, centre, on guitar and Fr. William O’Brien at a Murry Room Mass in 1973.

Mackenzie Stewart, fourth-year political studies major and internal director of the STM Students’ Union, reports that the Murray Room was named after Bishop Gerald Murray, the influentialfounder of STM, and Walter Murray, the first president of the U of S.

She describes how the Murray Room was a place for students to socialize, relax and hang out between classes.

“I used to go between all of my classes. I went there to nap, play piano, study and socialize. It was also the place that got me involved with the STMSU. The past president, Jennifer Hildebrand, started talking to me one day and the next thing I knew I was running for the executive,” Stewart said, in an email to the Sheaf.

On Apr. 1, the STMSU will host their annual Banquet and Ball, and to honour their student space, the theme will be “Funeral of the Murray Room.” The event will send off the Murray Room with a eulogy and memories shared by students from the past and present. The evening will take place in Choices cafeteria and starts with cocktails at 5:30 p.m., followed by a banquet and dance. Tickets are $20 for students and can be purchased in the STM office.

Michael MacLean, a U of S alumni and STM campus minister, explains the value of having a familiar community for students when campus may feel like a large and unfamiliar environment.

“It is clear that STM College values student life and always wants a space for student life to thrive. In this year of renovations, it has been a very different moment, but even then, it has been great to see students find their way to our new study rooms and the atrium,” MacLean said, in an email to the Sheaf.

MacLean recalls that during his 19 years as a campus minister, the student lounge was used for various activities and events like guest speakers, arm-wrestling tournaments, Advent quiz game shows, charity events, STMSU candidate forums and Newman cupcake decorating. Over the years, he has been involved with Newman Centre Coffeehouses in the STM Cafeteria and has used the Murray Room as a backstage area for the artists and as a place to socialize and bond.

“The Murray Room served as a green room for the bands that would play. One of the big names I remember playing was David Wilcox. If people don’t know who David is, make sure and look up his videos on YouTube. He’s a great Canadian artist,” MacLean said.

Stewart says that, although a new student lounge will soon house the STMSU and Newman Centre’s offices, the Murray Room was an important resource for community building.

“The STMSU is having a send off for the Murray Room because we are getting a new student lounge in the fall, and we thought it was a good way to say goodbye to a place where students have had so many memories. The room has been a constant for many STM students and has been the place where people gather and form community for many years.”

Nykole King

Photo: STM Archives / Supplied