Since the passing of the University College Literary & Athletic Society’s (UC Lit) revitalization referendum, work on the UC building has progressed, with the Junior Common Room (JCR) reopening at the beginning of the year.
“The JCR went through some extensive updates to some of its main attributes this summer!” UC Lit President Ramsey Andary told The Varsity. “The floor was completely redone with a fresh new wood that matches the colour of the walls along with multiple in-ground outlets scattered all over, the couches and pillows were re-upholstered with durable leather, the tables were sanded and redone and the walls of the offices were all repainted.”
Other upcoming changes include adding more accessible entrances throughout the college, including a central elevator for the building. Renovations are also expected to bring a third floor café, an East Hall library, a reading room in West Hall, a conference centre in Croft Chapter House, and improvements to the UC quad.
“Historically, the university library used to be located in East Hall. Bringing it back as part of the revitalizations allows students to make more regular use of the beautiful room,” said Andary. “West Hall will also get more usage through its renewed role as a multi-purpose reading room. The hidden gem that is usually discovered only during Fireball, UC room 376, will get a café that we hope to make as popular as our current coffee hub Diabolos’,” said Andary.
The extensive renovations to the building are set to begin in the spring of 2017 and are expected to be completed in September 2018.
The UC Lit council has yet to make the decision on whether to operate the café in UC 376 themselves or to have UC Food Services run it. The council holds the right of first refusal to operate the café as it has done with its student-run coffee shop Diabolos’, located in the JCR.
Diabolos’, which had in the past experienced financial and operational difficulties, reopened in January 2015 after having been shut down for a couple of months.
Andary tells The Varsity that since its re-opening, the student-run coffee shop has been doing well.
“The key changes to its business structure, its operations, and its image were important in creating a financially sustainable system. We were lucky to have a talented team, manager, and administration to make this happen.”
The referendum approving the building revitalization levy had previously failed to reach a two-thirds majority in 2014.
The passing of the referendum earlier this year was seen to be a big move and Andary believes that the successes of the renovation would not have been possible without the support of the students within the UC community.
“I think it has really been the support of the students ever since the referendum that has sparked the overall excitement of the community to the great changes happening to our beloved college. Seeing the new JCR filling itself with life has just made students all the more eager to experience a revitalized UC,” said Andary.