(February 18, 1999, Gazette)
Residence students at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College are preparing to make way for officials of the 1999 Canada Winter Games.
Games officials will stay on campus throughout the Games period; students were required to vacate their rooms by Feb.17, returning on March 8. Classes finished Feb.16 and will resume on March 9. To accommodate the interruption of classes, the winter semester began several days early and will end a week later in April.
"Although the college is making a considerable contribution through the provision of facilities as well as staff and faculty volunteers, there's no doubt the residence students are making the biggest personal sacrifice for the Games," says Mary Sparkes, co-ordinator of Student Affairs. "We realize this is a major inconvenience for them, but we're doing our best to address all associated problems.
"The students have been extremely supportive in this regard."
Students who live on the island will receive funds for return ground transportation, including 27 cents/km for the distance from the bus station to their hometown. Off-island students will receive a total of $200 to defray their travel costs. They will receive the first $100 no questions asked; the second $100 can be obtained upon presentation of proof of travel, e.g., a plane ticket.
In the event students were unable to leave, 10 residence rooms were reserved. Five students have since decided they will remain on campus during the Games. Residence fees were pro-rated to reflect the time the students would not be occupying their rooms.
"We first met with students in the fall of 1997 to discuss how the Games would impact them," said Ms. Sparkes. "We also met with residence assistants, the residence council and the Council of the Students' Union."
A series of open forums was held to make sure as many students as possible had a chance to present their point of view.
"We received a lot of input and made a significant number of changes as a result of the students' opinions," said Ms. Sparkes.
Aodhan Sheahan, manager of Residence Life, said for the most part, it was the little things that students were concerned about.
"They didn't have a problem with the fact they were being asked to leave their rooms; they wanted to know where their stuff was being stored, who was paying for the boxes and packing materials - that sort of thing," he said, adding the students' belongings will be kept warm and dry in storage rooms within the building.
"Because we've paid such close attention to detail, we'll ensure a smooth transition for the students."
Mr. Sheahan says any concerns expressed by students have been addressed in a fair and timely manner.
"Well in advance, every residence applicant was forewarned of the 1999 event," said Mr. Sheahan. "Every student was told before they paid a cent or arrived on campus."
Corner Brook students will still have access to the library, learning centre and computer labs.
Arrangements have been made to ensure students will be able to continue teleconference courses during the Games. Because students who live outside the Corner Brook area will not have access to research resources, professors have been asked to ensure assignments given over the break are textbook based.
"The students have always been the number one priority," said Mr. Sheahan. "Every time a student had a concern, the college raised it with the 1999 Canada Games Host Society. If it was humanly possible, it was taken care of.
"In fact, there's been an almost daily dialogue between the college and the Games in order to ensure the students are completely satisfied."