An idea built upon years of consultation and conversations with graduate students.
You may be wondering what really is A Home to Call Our Own and what inspired the GSA to pursue such a plan? Simply put, we were inspired by the growth of our graduate student community and the needs of graduate students. In recent years, the desire of having a designated space where all graduate students could connect and network with each other has been expressed by many. We took note of these opinions – your opinions – and now we’re working to bring them to life.
History and Growth
Graduate culture at the university has often been an afterthought for institutional planning, and the space we have secured offers limited vision for the future. In order to better represent ourselves and the needs of graduate students, we have attempted to grow to meet this demand, but this has not been without challenges. In the last decade, the graduate student population has nearly doubled, from just over 1000 students in the early 2010’s to nearly 2000 in 2021. Despite this, the last significant expansion in space for the GSA came in 2015 with the addition of the GSA Lounge (MCC301).
Many GSA’s across Ontario provide additional services, (whether that is programming space for events, space for graduate clubs or groups, or restaurant and retails space) through their associations that our current limitations do not allow for. Noting this, we have been actively exploring opportunities to address graduate student needs and our own internal capacity. Since 2017 the GSA has explored a number of options for expanding space and services on campus, each one presenting challenges that have forced us to refocus our efforts into other areas in the hopes that eventually a plan could be identified that would meet graduate student needs.
The current GSA space compliment is approximately 750 square feet, spread across three spaces in two different blocks of the Mackenzie Chown Complex. Theses spaces hold office and reception space, meeting space, as well as the GSA Lounge. These spaces are disjointed and limited in their accessibility. They have served the GSA and its members well since our organization began over two decades ago, but as we have grown, our space compliment has not kept pace. When considering the GSA’s forthcoming strategic plan, as well as forecasted graduate enrollment growth in Brock University’s Strategic Plan (expected to be approximately 2300 graduate students by 2025), we realized we will soon outgrow our spaces.
Over the last year, the GSA has focused its efforts on opportunities for new space on campus, specifically on dedicated space that would be distinct from undergraduate space, where graduate students could feel supported and visible. As graduate students are only 10% of Brock’s student population the GSA has approached the process for new space with the constant question, “How can we improve the visibility and culture of graduate life on campus?”. We have turned down offers for growth because of location, environmental footprint and impact, strategically waiting until the ideal opportunity that would best benefit graduate students. That opportunity is to have a Home to Call Our Own.
Graduate students in the early 2010s
Graduate students as of 2021
Approximate graduate students by 2025
Current square feet for services + operations
So what is a Home to Call Our Own?
Simply put, it is a space for graduate students that is as unique and individual as our cohort; a space that exists as a haven and a home for all members of the graduate population to feel welcome and included. In the same way that undergraduates have dedicated space, throughout the university, where they can go to truly engage with the campus, such a home would afford the same opportunity to graduate students.
We’ve heard you, loud and clear, around your desire for spaces away from other elements of the university. We have heard your desire to have places to go where you can meet other graduate students beyond your program, engage with graduate specific programming, or just somewhere to go to unwind after a long day of class or study on campus. This new building offers a centralized location, in the heart of campus for all of these amenities and more.