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Greenbriar to be converted into an upper-year residence for 2015-2016

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The Greenbriar apartment-style residence will be designated for upper-year students beginning Fall 2015. The residence is located close to McGill’s downtown campus on University and primarily housing first-year students in studio-style and one-bedroom style apartments.

Director of Student Housing and Hospitality Services (SHHS) Janice Johnson explained that the change was motivated by the increased availability of beds overall in McGill residences and the current popularity of Greenbriar as an on-campus housing option for upper-year students—about 30 upper-year students apply to live in residence each year, most of whom choose Greenbriar. 

“Ever since we created [the residence] La Citadelle, we’ve got more beds than we need to meet the first-year student guarantee,” she said. “Looking at next year’s enrollment numbers […] we thought that Greenbriar was probably the place that would be the most attractive for upper-year [undergraduate] students.”

Second to fourth-year students would be able to apply to live in Greenbriar through a process independent of the general lottery system that is used to place first-year students in residences. 

“It’s more like applying to rent a space anywhere else,” Johnson explained. “We’ll have a web form for students to fill out an application [….] If we have a [first-year] student [who] has particular needs that Greenbriar would fit, I wouldn’t not put them there […] but we’re not going to be assigning a great swath [of first-year] students in Greenbriar.”

Leases for Greenbriar for the 2015-2016 school year would span 12 months, according to Johnson, although she said that she does not currently know how much rent would cost. Students would not be mandated to buy a meal plan.

Faye Siluk, U4 Education and Greenbriar floor fellow, explained that she believed some students might like the option of an upper-year residence.  

“Even though first year is so formative, I think a lot of students still need [the] sense of security and that guaranteed community that comes from [residence],” Siluk said. “It does bring a sense of safety that you maybe wouldn’t get if you’re a little bit young or inexperienced […] and that’s something that a lot of students as well as their families […] might appreciate.”

Siluk also spoke to the structure of the apartments within Greenbriar, stating that they allowed students to live more independently within the residence system.  

“Now that I’m in Greenbriar, I have a lot more privacy,” she said. “I have my own apartment and kitchen, [and] I do feel like I’ve been able to grow and develop [….] It makes sense to me that [an upper-year residence] would be Solin or Greenbriar, because it’s naturally going to be more independent.”

According to Johnson, Greenbriar will not have floor fellows in the 2015-2016 school year, although some on-site support would be provided for residents by relocating the MORE housing office to Greenbriar. 

“There will be an administrative presence in Greenbriar during the days […] in case students have questions, [but the] programming we [will] offer will be at a much more general level, [such as] inviting [students] to stuff that’s happening across residences,” she said.

Johnson continued to highlight that student consultation would take place throughout the year.

“We want to […] talk to students about what they might need and […] see if we need to create something specific for upper year students,” she said.

Siluk spoke to the challenge of creating a community of upper-year students in Greenbriar during the next school year.

“The fact that they’re upper-year students and that they have pre-established communities will make it more challenging than when you’re working with first years,” she said. “I think that if McGill set up some kind of hall council [for Greenbriar…] that plans events and gets given a budget […] than it would really help build a community [….] I do have faith that students make [communities] on their own, it might just be a longer process.”

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