UBC now has a special collegium that will serve as a home away from home for Indigenous students.
Recently opened in the First Nations Longhouse for the 2019/20 winter session, the Indigenous Student Collegium (ISC) was created in collaboration between the First Nations House of Learning (FNHL) and UBC’s Collegia program.
According to FNHL Director Dr. Margaret Moss, the ISC is distinct in two main ways. First, it is available for “self-identified Indigenous [students from around the world] only” and second, it is available to students of “any level” — whether they’re first years, fifth years or grad students. Both students in residence and commuter students can benefit from the new space.
According to Moss, the ISC replaced the Social Lounge in the Longhouse which previously contained rooms that could be booked.
“They decided to repurpose the space and make it very specific to student use only,” she said.
There has been a discontinuation of the booking spaces, repainting, new furniture and a “refurbished kitchen with a dishwasher, new counters” and other amenities.
“Collegias are supposed to be a home away from home. We encourage people to take a nap if they want to, or leave their lunch and so forth,” Moss added. “We’re not heavily programming inside their ‘home.’ All the usual activities in the Longhouse will remain with the Longhouse.”
For the time being, Moss is serving as the professor in collegium offering tutoring and academic guidance. She also noted that the space will always be managed by a student collegium advisor as well.
In order for Indigenous students to have a place of their own where “they can feel safe,” members of the ISC can only access the space using a key card.
“It is a locked space and designated for members only. It’s not a space for staff to be in or anybody else,” said Moss.
Generally, collegia have about 250 members, which is thought the optimal number for building community. Moss said that the ISC has not “reached that number yet and they’re waiting to see how that works out before they come to any decisions.”
Overall, she's pleased with how the space has improved and how the community has responded.
“Before, it was just space and now it’s actual program space to hopefully help increase usage and participation.”
If you are a member of the Indigenous Student Collegium, The Ubyssey would love to hear about your experience. You can contact our news editors at email@example.com.