With the Prince Albert campus on track to opening in fall 2020, the University of Saskatchewan main campus is thinking ahead on how to address the needs of those students.
In anticipation for the opening, the campus sign was unveiled on Sept. 16 in an event attended by representatives from the university administration and the U of S Students’ Union.
The new campus will bring students together in one common space and will provide a sense of belonging that has been lacking in the area, says Patti McDougall, vice-provost of teaching, learning and student experience.
“Even though we’ve been there, we didn’t really have the visibility and I don’t think that our students necessarily had the sense of identity and belonging to the University of Saskatchewan that we really want,” McDougall said.
The university bought the building that will serve as their satellite campus in 2018, after decades of offering distance learning in Prince Albert in leased spaces.
The USSU is also looking at ways to address the disconnect between the Prince Albert students and the students’ union in the coming months, according to USSU President Regan Ratt-Misponas.
The day of the unveiling, the USSU executive members met with Prince Albert U of S students which was a “good chance to get to know what they might be facing and their unique needs, based on being a distance away from the university’s main campus,” Ratt-Misponas said.
There have been discussions on including a representative of the satellite campus potentially on student council but it is still to be determined as “some source of representation from there is important, especially if we want to keep those ties with the body of students that are over there,” Ratt-Misponas said.
The high percentage of Indigenous students in the area is an important consideration for the university, says McDougall. Last year, 55 per cent of students taking U of S classes in Prince Albert were Indigenous.
McDougall says the needs of Indigenous students will be considered in the planning for the building and the programming in Prince Albert.
“It’s imperative that when we renovate or build a space that we make sure that there are appropriate spaces like ceremonial space and appropriate opportunities, like access to Elders and other kinds of Indigenous programming that matter to students,” McDougall said.
While the campus is still a year away from opening, the university is already planning for the future. McDougall says they have received significant interest from the Edwards School of Business, the College of Engineering and the College of Agriculture and Bioresources about expanding their programming into Prince Albert.
McDougall says that future demand for the Prince Albert campus will depend on the improvements made to the campus and programming in the coming years.
“We need to get settled in the fall of 2020 with the integration of the things we currently do and then shortly thereafter we need to start to build other things,” McDougall said. “The desire to be in the Prince Albert campus from people who live in that region, so they can be closer to home, will grow if we are offering the right things.
Ana Cristina Camacho/ News Editor
Photos: David Stobbe/ Supplied