Three major support services will soon have a single office to call their own. PrideWestern, Ally Western and the Women’s Issues Network will soon move into their united space.
Organizers hope the new office will help build a stronger community — one bound by a collective mission.
After years of struggling to find adequate space, three of Western’s main support groups will finally unite permanently under one roof.
The new Support Services Centre will join PrideWestern, Ally and the Women’s Issues Network in one large office. The three services have shared cramped space in the University Community Centre for the past year, with most of their offices on a separate floor.
The new space will open soon in the lowest level of the University Community Centre, transforming an unused office into a safe place for students of all genders, sexualities, and their allies.
On top of offering lounge space, the new office is big enough for students to receive private counselling — something offered before, but with some difficulty.
“It would have been less private, or we would have had to ask people to leave,” explained Scott Kerr, vice-president campus issues for the University Students’ Council.
The new centre will be made up of a main lounge space, a smaller room for groups, and four office spaces for the coordinators.
During the day the space will be used as a safe place for students to gather and socialize. At night, the room will host programming for the services. This access is made possible because of a $5,000 key pass card system, which can be programmed to let students in for after-hours programming.
The system also allows for more expensive items to be stored in the room to enhance the kinds of services offered, such as a larger television for film screenings, or a fridge and couches.
According to Laura Beaulne-Stuebing, WIN coordinator, the old space filled many of the same needs, but the new one will fulfill the growing population who use these services at Western.
“The old centre became a community space — a safe, supportive place for students to hang out, socialize, study, eat their lunch,” she explained. “But the services community is growing, and room 258 is just too small for all of us to share.”
Beaulne-Stuebing felt this was detrimental to the inclusive community the services were trying to create.
However, Nicole Bakker, EnviroWestern coordinator, felt leaving her third-floor office would be a mistake. She explained she was offered the new space but turned it down due to the amount of work she put into her current office.
“The EnviroWestern office is currently in Room 310 UCC, as it has for as long as I’ve been at Western.”
Kerr explained part of the reason to include Ally, Pride, and WIN was because of their similar mandate for promoting equality and reducing social barriers on campus.
“The whole goal of the Service Support Centre is to give a sense of community to these groups,” Kerr said.
Programming to be organized at the centre will include film nights, discussion groups, and counselling. Kerr also hoped to see the centre open as a women’s-only space one night a week.
With all the changes taking place, Kerr is quick to stress the changes are not over.
“It’s a work in progress, but I’m excited to see how we grow it over the next couple of months.”