School’s in at the AMC
By Elise Favis
Due to the large influx of 300 additional students, Dawson has rented the fourth floor of the Pepsi Forum, which now serves as nine classes and two computer labs for the school. The college itself is more crowded than ever before in its history, leaving new students overwhelmed and hallways packed.
“Our department was given a mandate to find additional space for students,” said Jorge Sanchez of Plant and Facilities, Coordinator of Auxiliary Services. “Of the options that were available, the Pepsi Forum became the best choice, taking into account the short time to build the classrooms, the rental cost and the location.” Because of demographics and higher student interest in post-secondary education, there was a 17. 2% spike in English CEGEP applicants this past year. Quality students were being rejected due to lack of space in crowded colleges such as Dawson, Vanier and John Abbott.
The Ministry of Education requested that the CEGEPs accept beyond their capacity, and injected a $1 million financial aid to some of the English-speaking CEGEPs.The area in the Pepsi Forum is referred to as the P Wing, and is of short proximity from the college. It is open during normal school hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., every day so students can attend their classes. The space is mostly filled with first-year students. Even with the additional space, Dawson still suffers from overpopulation.
Although this phenomenon is not new, the issue seems to grow worse each year. During the first couple weeks, line-ups for the bookstore, course change, and OPUS card renewals have been filled with frustrated students who have waited for hours at a time. OPUS was only offered in-school through Sept. 1, 2 and 3. “I have been waiting for an hour and a half,” Kateryna Gusakov, first semester Nursing student said, “I’ve been trying to come by the past two days, but I had class.”
The Dawson Student Union (DSU) recognizes the positives and negatives of the growing population, and has been taking initiative on the subject.“The overcrowding during course change, STM lines and around the escalators is absurd,” said Ariel Charney, DSU chairperson. “[It is] an issue the DSU executive has addressed repeated. Our theme for orientation this year was ‘Student Power’ and the reasons we chose this was to remind us all that students are the greatest catalyst for positive social change.”
Dawson College is a heritage building, and Westmount by-laws limit the administration’s ability to build extra space internally. The only solution possible was to find an external space off-campus for students. Both the Pepsi Forum and Alexis Nihon were proposed.The area still smells of fresh paint and has minor ongoing maintenance, such as fixing up baseboards, adding podiums in classes and setting up lounges for students and teachers alike. All technical necessities have been put into place, including projectors and computers. The colour scheme and furniture is identical to those in Dawson College classrooms.
“Besides the walk here, you can’t really tell you’re in a different institution,” said History teacher Nancy Rebelo, who teaches in the Forum, “I think it kind of prepares students to go into different locations before their university studies,” added Rebelo, “I told them they have to be here. I think 15 minutes is ample time. If I can get here in 15 minutes they can too.”
Although some students are amenable to the circumstances, others find the transit time too tight and have concerns about how they will manage in the winter.“I have one class in the Forum, and a class in the college right after. So if the class finishes late, it’s not really fair for the teacher to be disrupted by me coming in late,” Kristen Drummond, third semester North South Studies student said.
She feels that it’s not fair for her either because she feels she’s missing out on class time. “The assumption is that the majority will graduate two to three years from now,” Sanchez explained, “If the same situation [repeats] itself next year, say another 300 students, we’d need something beyond there also.”