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The SSMU Student Lounge will remain closed for rennovations until mid-semester. (Natalie Vineberg / McGill Tribune)

SSMU presents a new student lounge

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Renovations of the Student Lounge on the first floor of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Building are underway, with a proposed completion by mid-semester.  

The last time the student lounge had been renovated was in the summer of 2010. According to Vice-President (VP) Clubs and Services Kimber Bialik, students can expect new couches and bean bag chairs, as well as more tables for those who like to use it as a study space. 

“The student lounge will remain fundamentally a lounge space, so students can certainly expect more in the way of couches,” Bialik said. “Designs that have been reviewed have included more table and work space.”

From November to December 2015, the status of the student lounge was unclear. Joni Williams, U2 Economics, noted that she had wanted to use the lounge, but discovered the room had been locked, then unlocked.

“I really enjoyed [spending] time in the lounge after a long class,” Williams said. “And I was a bit confused when in November and December I tried to go in, but it was closed, and then [later] reopened again.”

In November 2015, the lounge briefly closed due to a potential bed bug infestation, but was reopened when no evidence was found to back up that claim. 

“In late November, a student came to the SSMU Office and said that they believed there were bed bugs in the student lounge,” Bialik said. “SSMU immediately closed [the room] and brought in a pest control company to inspect the space for bed bugs, and after professional inspection, there were no traces of bed bugs found.” 

The SSMU lounge closed permanently for the semester after another student brought a bed bug claim to Bialik’s attention. 

“Although we already had a confirmation that there were no bedbugs following the [previous] inspection, the lounge was closed again for the duration of the exam period, simply due to the sheer number of students who were concerned that there could potentially be pests in the lounge,” Bialik said. 

 The renovations were inspired by students’ proposals to the SSMU Building Committee, which historically develops a project list and sets the priorities for SSMU without student consultation. 

“The Building Committee has a budget of roughly $40,000 annually that is restricted for space improvements within the SSMU Building,” Bialik said.

This year, she placed a hold on half of the total funds set aside for space improvements and solicited student proposals on where those funds should go— ultimately towards new furniture and carpet for the lounge. 

The new furniture includes couches, tables, and chairs, and is estimated to cost about $20,000, which is covered by the hold Bialik placed on the Building Committee’s budget for space improvements. The carpet was replaced over the winter break at a cost of $10,000.

“The [replacement of the carpeting] is being funded by SSMU’s Capital Expenditure Reserve Fund (CERF),” Bialik said.  “[This] is a restricted fund that SSMU uses for building maintenance and renovation projects to the building.” 

This week, the Building Committee will be reviewing the proposals for furniture design. After the designs and proposed expenses are approved the plans will be presented for ratification at SSMU Legislative Council.

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