NOV 2013

Have you been wondering what happened to the now-empty computer lab across from the bathrooms on the third floor of Trottier?

Do you feel that the third floor is more crowded and loud than it has been in the past?

Do you want Trottier to continue being an open study space for undergraduates?

If you have answered yes to any of the above questions it may be in your interest to take a moment and read the following document.The Faculty of Science has taken study space from undergraduate students and plans to take more in the future. We at CSUS have written up what we know about the situation so far, how we feel it will affect our student body, and what we’ve been doing with regard to this situation.

What's Happening

Due to a new, substantial research grant, the Faculty of Science has decided to transfer ownership of two labs (rooms 3060 and 3070) from SOCS to a different department to use for a professor’s research. Other spaces on campus were considered but Trottier was determined to be the most appropriate for the grant, based on factors that are currently unknown to us. Room 3060 has already been emptied and locked off, and room 3070 will follow suit in the Winter semester.

Why the CSUS is concerned about this

For a variety of reasons, we at CSUS feel that this loss of space has a negative effect on our undergraduate students. These are the main ones:

  • Many COMP classes require the 3rd floor Linux machines.
    The computers on Trottier’s 3rd floor are the only Linux computers on campus, and many COMP courses require software and libraries that can only be run on Linux computers. It is important that students are able to complete their assignments without having to purchase and configure additional software or hardware. As such, it is crucial to have sufficient space on the 3rd floor available for anyone taking a COMP course.
  • Enrolment in Computer Science is rapidly increasing.
    The number students taking a CS major or minor has nearly doubled in size in 2 years and many of the 200-level COMP courses are taken by students outside of Computer Science. The 3rd floor is already very crowded and is quickly becoming a less productive and welcoming study space. The space that is being lost is a considerable proportion of our work space which will only worsen the problem of overcrowding.
  • Tutorials need lab space.
    The lab spaces in question are very frequently booked to hold tutorials for COMP classes. If we lose these labs, tutorials will likely be moved to room 3120, one of our largest study spaces. During tutorials, TAs usually ask all other students to leave so as not to distract those who are there for the tutorial, which reduces the 3rd floor work space even further.
  • The 3rd floor of Trottier is important to the CS student community.
    Having the 3rd floor of Trottier as a communal space is crucial to the Computer Science community at McGill. It is extremely valuable to have an open space for Computer Science students to meet to collaborate on projects, work on assignments, and study together. Losing such a large portion of our communal space will make it very hard for our growing student body to benefit from and contribute to our CS community.

What CSUS has been doing so far:

This fall, we found that Trottier 3060 had been emptied out and locked without any effort to inform the student body. We contacted the department and learned that 3060 had been transferred to another department to be used as a research space. We also learned that there are plans to transfer 3070 in April 2014, and that 3080 and 3090 will potentially be transferred as well.

We have spent this past semester following up on the issue, trying our best to collect all the facts, and making our concerns heard. We met with the department chair about the issue, and were told that the decision was made at the faculty level and that it is ultimately out of the hands of the CS department.

Since it appears that appealing to the department is ineffective, we have attempted to go through other channels. We met with a professor in the Engineering faculty that is familiar with the history of the Trottier building. As we understand it, this loss of space is against the original intent of the Trottier building, which was to provide strictly undergraduate teaching and studying space for CS and ECSE. It was explicitly not intended to be used for research space of any kind. We also have voiced our concerns to other student societies (such as SUS and ECSESS, the latter of which we share the building with), as their student bodies will be affected by this loss of space as well.

Whats Next?

Our next steps are to meet with the Dean of Science and work with the Faculty to negotiate alternatives. We wanted to inform the CS student body about the current situation, and we will let you know the results of our discussions with the Faculty of Science.

If you feel you will be affected by the loss of space, or have any other thoughts or comments about the issue, we would love to hear from you! Please send a message to our VP Internal, Tina, at csus-vpinternal@cs.mcgill.ca.