Ground ‘bro­ken’ for nipiss­ing u. stu­dent cen­tre

North Bay Nugget - - COMMUNITY LISTINGS - Jen­nifer Hamil­ton-mc­cha­rles

It’s been a long time com­ing. That was the re­ac­tion Fri­day from Nipiss­ing Univer­sity stu­dents and alumni dur­ing the ground­break­ing cer­e­mony to kick off con­struc­tion of the $13-mil­lion stu­dent cen­tre.

The Nipiss­ing Univer­sity Stu­dent Union (NUSU), which has been col­lect­ing fees from stu­dents since 2003 to fi­nance the build­ing, is work­ing with the univer­sity on the project.

Com­ple­tion of the 32,000-square­foot cen­tre, lo­cated at the cor­ner of Col­lege Drive and Mon­es­tary Road, is slated for 2020.

NUSU pres­i­dent Daniel Goulard said the project will un­doubt­edly im­prove stu­dent life at Nipiss­ing.

“There’s been a lot of ex­cite­ment from cur­rent stu­dents to alumni who have waited a long time to see con­struc­tion of this build­ing,” he said fol­low­ing a ground-break­ing cer­e­mony, moved in­doors due to in­clement weather.

“This will make stu­dent life bet­ter as there will be both aca­demic and so­cial as­pects to the build­ing.”

Goulard told lo­cal me­dia the stu­dent cen­tre will come equipped with meet­ing places, study nooks, so­cial areas, a restau­rant, bar and pa­tio.

Nipiss­ing pres­i­dent Mike De­gagne said the project has been in the works for some time.

“The first ques­tion I was asked six years ago when I ar­rived at Nipiss­ing was ‘How can you help us build a stu­dent cen­tre?’” he re­called.

“This will be a tremen­dous gift to stu­dents mov­ing for­ward.”

Plans for a stu­dent cen­tre ex­pan­sion date back more than 15 years.

Ini­tially, it was a joint project in­volv­ing both the Nipiss­ing and Canadore Col­lege stu­dent unions, with an­nual fees col­lected from stu­dents at both in­sti­tu­tions to help pay for con­struc­tion.

Canadore and its stu­dents pulled out of the project sev­eral years ago, drop­ping the as­so­ci­ated fee.

The stu­dent fee as­so­ci­ated with the project, in­cluded as part of the tu­ition pack­age, was ini­tially $200 an­nu­ally per stu­dent. But the amount was in­creased to $280 fol­low­ing a ref­er­en­dum in 2008.

Rev­enue gen­er­ated by a planned restau­rant and night­club will go to NUSU.

A planned night­club will be two sto­ries, com­plete with a sec­ond­floor mez­za­nine over­look­ing the dance floor.

When not in use as a night­club, the space is ex­pected to ac­com­mo­date a va­ri­ety of other large gath­er­ings, such as con­fer­ences, pre­sen­ta­tions, movies and con­certs.

An ad­ja­cent restau­rant will in­clude a mov­able wall sys­tem that can be opened to al­low the night­club and restau­rant to func­tion as one large space.

A full-ser­vice pa­tio over­look­ing the stu­dent quad will of­fer food and drink out­doors.

Jade Nigh­bor, pres­i­dent of Nipiss­ing Univer­sity alumni ad­vi­sory board, said the com­mon re­ac­tion from for­mer stu­dents upon hear­ing the news is “it’s about time” and “fi­nally it’s hap­pen­ing.”

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