Thriving or not in Wyckham
by Claire Miglionico
In early March, the SAMMIES – a video contest focused on capturing a favourite SAMRU service in a creative manner – were cancelled due to a lack of applicants.
With this in mind, The Reflector questioned student awareness and usage of SAMRU services.
Friday afternoon is not a good time to experience SAMRU student services, which are found mostly on the second and third floor of Wyckham House. The hallways are empty, the student executives are in meetings, and most student services are closed.
Come Monday morning, services are up and running, ready to meet students’ needs.
The Peer Support Centre opens the earliest, and is by far the most popular centre: every weekday, the centre serves free breakfast to students from 8:45 to 10 a.m.
Students have a lot on their plate in terms of school-work, but when it comes to the first meal of the day, the plate is often empty.
Although breakfast is known for being the most important meal of the day, the Globe and Mail reported 40 per cent of Canadians do not make time for breakfast to avoid being late for work or school.
The Peer Support Centre is a good service to rely on in that case.
Being a part of that 40 per cent who regularly skip breakfast, I made my way to the Peer Support Centre to experience my first free breakfast of the year. To my surprise, a lineup of about 10 people was already forming in front of the locked centre. Inside, volunteers and co-ordinator Kellie Nixon were getting the food ready.
“We have [approximately] 90 students a day who come in for breakfast. We usually run out of supplies around 9:30 a.m.,” said Nixon.
As soon as the doors opened, hungry students rushed inside to get ahold of their freebies. Students can choose between carrot, bran or blueberry muffins, apples, oranges, and yogurt of all sorts. The breakfast selection is simple, but healthy, and perfect for a student on the run. Alnoor Rajwani, owner of the Collegiate Shop in Wyckham House, donates the coffee.
According to the SAMRU Annual Report, 5,498 free breakfasts were served in 2008-2009, with an average of 58 students per day. Nixon said that demand for free breakfast has significantly increased this year.
“More students would come if there were more supplies,” she said.
On top of providing free breakfast, the Peer Support Centre has free textbooks up for grabs, donates food hampers for those in need, and provides services such as emergency student loans, and private counseling.
On the other hand, the Sustainability Centre has yet to experience crowds of students walking in and out of the centre every day. Although the centre has been open since December 2008, co-ordinator Alana-Dawn Eirikson said five to 10 people a week drop by the centre, usually to ask general questions about the centre’s services.
“We have a sustainability workshop series every second Wednesday,” she said.
Some past workshops included vermi-composting – using worms to process waste – sustainable food systems with the Calgary Food Policy Council, and sustainable transportation with Amy Thai and the Good Life Community Bicycle Shop.
The centre also opened the Eco Store that can be found inside Copywrite, in the basement of Wyckham House. The store is worth a look: it offers sustainable cleaners, personal items such as eco-friendly shampoos, razors “made out of yogurt containers,” and green school supplies such as recycled binders.
Additionally, the Sustainability Centre is developing a community garden in a yet-to-be determined location, among other sustainable projects and services.
Eirikson said she has recently noticed an increase in students who have course work linked to sustainability. Students therefore drop by the centre to gather information on the subject.
“I am happy with the progress we have made thus far [but] it would be nice to see more people come in every day,” she said. “I would be more than happy to reflect students’ needs.”