Dozens gathered on Friday morning at the Christenson Family Centre (Building 8) for a groundbreaking ceremony for a new building at MacEwan University’s City Centre Campus.
The new 54,000-square-foot building will serve as a space for the Students’ Association of MacEwan University (SAMU), and is planned to be opened by Fall 2019.
SAMU’s President Danika McConnell and MacEwan University President David Atkinson attended the event, along with Marlin Schmidt, Alberta’s Minister of Advanced Education, and representatives and officials from SAMU, Edmonton City Council, and the Government of Alberta.
Different speakers made their speeches before the crowd of students, staff, officials, and representatives, explaining the achievements made and the benefits of the new building.
“The project has been a long time coming, and there have been many ups and many downs,” Atkinson said in his speech before the crowd. “But through hard work and a willingness to work together, we have gotten to this very, very special day.”
Once the speeches concluded, both presidents, along with Schmidt and SAMU’s VP Operations and Finance Amy Beard, participated in a photo op with the media, signalling the launch of the new building’s construction.
SAMU executives also took part in their own photo op, holding up miniature shovels as they celebrated the historic moment for MacEwan University.
“I think what the students have achieved is a sense of ownership when it comes to what we were able to accomplish and what we can offer our fellow students,” said McConnell. “I mean it has been an overwhelming process, one that started long before I even enrolled here, which is a representation of how far we (have) come and where we are going.”
The idea of having a new building dedicated to the students had been in talks for years.
In October 2015, MacEwan students voted in a referendum over a $35 student fee increase to help fund the $31.3 million project.
The referendum was a success for the new building as the results came out with 77 per cent of the students voting in favour of the increase. The vote was also a defining moment for SAMU.
“I really hope that they all know, all well over the 19,000 (students) that we have here were instrumental in making sure that we hit all the basis when it came to what a student building should entail,” said McConnell. “Thank you!”
The rest of the funding for the project came from SAMU student fees – 10 per cent – and the Alberta Capital Finance Authority.
The new building will be built north of Building 8 and on the east site of 109 St. It will offer more space for students to study and host their clubs’ activities.